If you have ever ventured onto this blog, or know me personally, you probably know that I've recently launched a podcast called AAA: Art, Activism and Adventure. The aim of the podcast is to host individuals per episode who relate with a minimum of one of the three communities listed in the title and talk about issues that are important to them. Topics range from interests, ideas, concepts, problems, solutions, thoughts and questions initiated by the guest. The conversations are not intended to be interviews and the conversations are not a delving into the personal work of that individual. Since I have begun the podcast I have had some feedback about the style of the conversations I'm attempting to host and it got me to thinking about artist interviews. So here we go.
As a young person who has been delving into the arts community, I have had the opportunity to attend talkbacks, Q & As, panels, and interviews. And in all of the forums of art conversation, I have attended I have noticed a trend.
All interviews sound the same
When I listen to interviews involving artists, there are some variations depending on the art form and based on the accessibility of the art or art form, but the questions are generally the same. Not only are the questions the same per interview, but the questions are the same within the same interview. What is your creative process? What was the moment you realized...? What did it take to make this creation? What did you have to sacrifice? What were the struggles? What were the things that kept you going? What made you want to write a breakup album? When was the moment you decided to switch to watercolour? Depending on who you're talking to and how down they are to talk about their inner workings, all of the above questions could have vaguely the same answer.
When I hear artists talk about their work in this situation, I hear the anxiety in their voice as much as I feel it in my body. You're proud of your work, of course, you are (although of course it's not nearly perfect), but you've been working on this project for months. Years. How did it all start? What was my original motivation? The foundation of resources for creating art is weak and support sparse. The ability to create a body of work to be recognized for takes time and is not something that can be necessarily summed up in a couple emotion evoking questions. To me, it often seems that artists struggle to answer the questions in a way that differentiates their answers when really...they just answered that question! And then every once and a while you hear an interview with an established artist who is confident with a certain amount of not giving a sh!t and it's awesome (take a listen to Jalal Nuriddin's unapologetic interview with Shad. ps. imma Shad fan regardless of my relationship with the cbc). The point is, the form of the interviews are too homogeneous producing generic phrases and anecdotes that are then paired with artists, creating stereotypes we both battle and embrace.
In addition, artist interviews are typically quite different than the interviews of other people who are asked about issues surrounding their expertise. It's almost as if the intelligence of artists is neglected when it is deemed that their sole ability is to talk about their personal art. I understand that interviews based on understanding artistic process exist to support the artist and the work they are doing, but I can't seem to shake the feeling that the conversations being had are surfing above the individual's depth and that a different line of questioning might break open the creative genius who delivers the art that fuels our world.
Luckily complaining can be useful if you're willing to put your money where your mouth is. So imma give it a try. Please follow the podcast either here on my website, on soundcloud or download from itunes. Tell me if what I'm doing is decent. If it is growing. If the concept I'm attempting to shape is taking form. Let's have the conversations we want to hear. Let's talk.