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Artist Special - Dee

Sorry for the delay in this month's Artist Special. The third Sunday snuck up on me - there are five in April 2018! Anyway, I talked with Dee this month about drawing and making musick. We have been internet friends for some time but only met in person briefly and recently. I have always appreciated Dee's art a lot, so I was very excited when they agreed to do this interview. They make some really interesting stuff, but you need to just see and hear it to understand.

pfoto by Johnny Arlett

When did you start making visual art and musick? What inspired you?
When I was five, I started writing very dramatic and cheesy, sorta atmospheric songs with a Yamaha PSR 420 keyboard. My dad bought me it after I told him that I wanted to make music like Keys to Imagination by Yanni and Autobahn by Kraftwerk, which were two albums he played for me lots, and I just loved them so much. Soon after, my mum & sisters noticed that I had a really powerful voice and an accurate sense of pitch and rhythm, especially for being really young. So that, combined with the grown-ups in my life not knowing how else to contain my extremely high energy levels and big imagination, lead to the decision to get me involved with musical theatre, voice lessons, and various other children's music ensembles. This became a heavy involvement rather quickly. I was constantly competing, which has always been so draining for me. By the time I was set up to begin studying vocal performance at a conservatory, I was super burnt out. That's when I decided to try my hand at making my own music again in hopes that I'd become reconnected to the part of creating that I loved being in as a kiddo. And it just continued to get weirder. However, the things I learned about music in childhood continually prove useful! In particular, the Orff Pedagogy I was exposed to lots; it superstimulates me! My visual art followed a similar timeline. Even as a kid, I was so saddened that I lacked the time (because of a rigorous schedule with the music stuff I did) to scribble and experiment with art. At age eight I was actually convinced that God took away my "art powers" to give me "musical-concentration powers". I went in and out of making art but didn't truly begin developing a style and idea of something that I was excited about 'til I landed an internship at a gallery in my hometown, and I was like, "mmkay... I'm gonna try this visual stuffs again too". 

Yr art and musick both seem very whimsical. It makes me happy very much, though I feel that there is sort of a darker edge at times that is juxtaposed with the whimsical elements. Are these intentional choices like I’m thinking or is it just happenstance?

I get "whimsical with a darker edge" type comments quite frequently actually! Sometimes I'm not sure how to feel about it. While I don't think it's 100% intentional, I'm pretty certain it's just a part of who I am. With that being said, I've actually attempted to escape this perception of my works but to no avail! I'm very into music boxes, and they're pretty much that way, whimsy and dark. So I accept it. A lot of the things I enjoy are whimsical and emotive and scribbly and messy - me too, then!

Where did the name Bruiser Beep come from?
Well, my health is shitty and one thing I experience is bruising very easily. So I liked the idea of "bruise" but couldn't decide how to use it at first. I ended up at "bruiser" becauce people always name tiny, yappy dogs that, perhaps to imply that they're tougher than they look? They'll bruise ya? I can relate to that. "Beep" because I like beeping noises and how they can be contorted and bouncy!

I know that you used to live Oil City, and it seemed like you were organizing some events out there. I’ve never been out that way myself. How did the “scene” compare out there to what’s going on in Pittsburgh? What made you decide to move here?

While I'm grateful to the supporters, artist friends, and collaborators I had in Oil City, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to pursue what I really wanted to there. But I did learn a bunch from booking shows and festivals and working with the art galleries. Also, I had lotsa fun doing it! But yes it definitely laid out some solid learning foregrounds for me. I decided to move to Pittsburgh because its much more open to experimental music and art than Oil City is, I was traveling here to perform pretty often, and had many lovely friends here. It's quite different from oil City here, but it still feels very "Pennsylvania" which for now; I need that comfort. "Phase II Learning Zone" requires some comfort and warmth.

The other day, you had mentioned to me that you had some trouble with a live show you played. Somehow, I have never seen you play live, though I would like to. What goes into a live a Bruiser Beep set?
Oh gosh, I did have some issues at my last show! It happens from time to time when I'm either not completely in it, that affects my ability to concentrate, or if something goes wrong with sound, which I'm still learning about in many ways and tend to get quite anxious about. My set up began as just my old iPad mini and me rolling around on the floor singing about the Snuggle Man, but, nowadays, I like to have heavy wet reverb on my voice, use a chord organ, a toy keyboard, music box parts, tapes of old songs and lectures that I edit and blend up with noises, and various other sounds like android ringtones and things I hear when I'm wandering around the city or just anything else I want to include for each set. And my iPad is still in use of course!

Do you have any exciting events or releases coming up? What should people expect from you in the future? Is there a good way to follow yr work and new events you are involved with?

My priority goal is learning more, more, more! Streamlining my sets is something I'm working on for the future. I just wanna keep adding layers and instruments, noises, and ideas. Confidence is something I need to build. I'm not a fan of how Mr. Zucchini Man has music/art Facebook pages set up, so for now, just become my acquaintance to keep updated. Maybe I'll start hiding clues around the city. I have quite a few performances coming up! And I'm releasing an album on May 1st! It'll be available for digital download then and soon enough on cassette!

Thanks for reading! I hope that you feel informed and also excited about Dee's future work. Be sure to check out those Bruiser Beeps here. I'll be back next month with another Artist Special, and I hope you will be back too.