We spoke with Angelina La Pointe about mapping color combinations onto her own experiences, the challenges of working in two creative media at once, having a gnarly eye for the everyday and rebuilding her life in the midst of a tragedy.
In visual art, I am beholden to the basics and feel it is important to learn the rules before I break them. Music, in contrast, is the thing that I do the way I want to.
We gave Angelina a list of 10 color combinations and asked what each reminded her of.
Political echo chambers. Together, they would make a lovely purple.
Mania and despondency.
Rainy day vibes.
This combo speaks to me of gender-neutral baby stuff — things that aren’t supposed to be specific but still are. The binary is so ingrained in our culture.
In this combination, the background color becomes a factor. This makes me think of hospitals and sterility versus the horror of viscera and illness.
I’ve been living with some depression post-fire. This feels like the difference between good and bad days when you’re depressed.
This reminds me of a conversation with an older female artist mentor. When she was in grad school, any use of red in a female’s work would lead to a discussion of menstruation symbolism. I remember thinking I was glad someone had gone before me to tell the old guys they where full of it so I could use red in peace.
’90s skate graphics.
I’m really glad we get to talk in this setting, because I prefer to focus on multidisciplinary artists with North of the Internet. I think it’s kind of a rare, great thing that you’re able to focus your undivided attention on songwriting and visual art with equal zeal. How did you arrive at both modes of expression, and how do the two relate or differ in your subconscious? Do you approach one in a way you wouldn’t with the other, or vice versa?
Angelina La Pointe
It can be frustrating to try to make work in any creative medium, much less two. Yet, the two sides of my art practice have grown side by side and continue to inform and enrich one another. I am the child of two ceramic artists and sampled a great many media as I was growing up. Making art was a part of daily life in our household, as was music. My father is very musical and I grew up singing in the car and around the campfire. There was often a jam session taking place in my living room as I reluctantly shuffled off to bed.
As I grew up, art and music took on the shape of the contrasting aspects of my personality. I had a strong desire for order and understanding growing beside a fierce individualism and need to do my own thing. Art is the thing that I do the way you “should” do it. I have followed a very traditional course of arts study: studio classes, design principles, working from life. I have worked in a great variety of media, but I am beholden to the basics and feel it is important to learn the rules before I break them. Music, in contrast, is the thing that I do the way I want to. My music is very story-based. I am using it to convey an experience, an emotion or an observation as purely and directly as possible. I have little musical training and I lean heavily on traditions of simple folk and country forms to convey the feeling that I wish to convey — to hell with convention.
I take a fairly systematic approach in both art modes. I set up parameters for the project and work within them. In printmaking, I often work in series. I will settle on a subject matter, e.g. landscapes in California or girls in Ramones songs, then pick a useful working size and color palette. Then, I create a group of images that explore possible variations of that theme. I find setting up a system helps me to know when the work is finished, and encourages both stylistic cohesion and more nuanced exploration of a subject.
My songwriting is similarly systematic, but comes from a more emotional seed; a tension or a question. Generally, I will start with a line that grabs my interest. Usually it’s a kind of hypothesis or something that begs for further elaboration.
“I think we all were in love with that guy from the record store.”
Then I might explain or expand.
“We loved Nirvana and so we all thrived on being ignored.
We tried so hard not to stare, but he had such very good hair.
So we made our selections with care, so he’d know we were cool.”
Building on this little theme I’ve created, I might continue the narrative or bring in other information to expand the scope of the subject. In this song, “Nightlight,” I explore other small events of sexual awakening shared by girls of my generation with a verse about writing fan fiction and one about making out in cars. Again, I find that setting up a framework for the project helps me make a complete product.
Before we continue, please tell me about sugar.
Sugar is my primary addiction, one that goes largely unnoticed or encouraged by contemporary American society. I remember carefully constructing structures from sugar cubes as a child before stealthily deconstructing them from within in order to secretly suck the cubes away to nothing, Elmer’s glue and all.
Can you describe three of the closest people to you in your family or social group? I’d like for you to elaborate on their influence. How does each lend itself to your daily, almost forgotten actions — your vocal tics, the way you comport yourself, how you react in certain situations?
My brother Todd has always been a standout character in my life. Though he is five years younger, we have always been very close. We were homeschooled together on a ranch by parents who ran their business from home. Thus, we often find in each other the only other person who shares a unique and quirky perspective. We discovered the rockabilly music culture together as teenagers, and our sense of personal style and relating to the outside world has developed side by side. He suffered a spinal cord injury several years ago at the same time I was going through a breakup. During that time, we again turned to each other for sanity and support as we had when we were children. We know that we’ve been spending too much time together when I begin to comment on passing cars and he begins to comment on passing shoes.
Dan is my man friend. We cohabitate and have similar attitudes toward creation, innovation and our own cereers. We are both very busy and independent but have a series of mind-melds that our mutual friend Chris Lambert, of the Are We Okay? Podcast, would call “relationship bits.” For example, everything in our lives, from tacos to a new TV series, is quietly judged on a coolness continuum that ranges from “That’s so metal!” to “Not punk rock!” This is a scale only we know the definitions of.
Last one would be my dad. When answering your first question, I realized how closely my attitudes toward art and music mirror that of my father. He works as an artist yet always has a musical project going for fun. Though we differ in many ways, this base-level similarity runs very deep.
We found that being a different shape than your average girl-with-a-guitar coffee shop act helped us shock people into actually listening to the words.
It’s interesting that your band The Luck strips away most traditional rock band arrangements in favor of bass and drums. What drew you toward this approach? Do you often adjust your ear to the rhythm section when you listen to something?
At the beginning, it was a logistical choice. As a solo musician, bass was not working and the personality juggling act that is a full band seemed excessively stressful. The individuals that I knew who dug my music and were easy to work with personally were drummers. It evolved into a bit of a signature look and sound. My songs are so strongly about lyric and narrative that less is more. We found that being a different shape than your average “girl with a guitar” coffee shop act helped us shock people into actually listening to the words.
We do have a guitarist now and are enjoying the further depth of sound, but keeping the sound very simple and lyric-driven is our ultimate goal. I confess that when listening to most music I am listening for the story, the emotional content and the narrative.
What are you currently working on, whether in the personal realm or that of your artistic disciplines?
I am currently working on graduate school applications. An intense exercise in self-reflection, documentation and summation.
The Luck is also in the studio working on our first full-length album, for which I am creating packaging design and accompanying merchandise. We are focusing on some of our now older songs that have a very tongue-in-cheek, cutesy vibe. We are working with Randall Sena to capture a very spontaneous energy with an old-timey, sort of stripped-down quality.
From what I’ve seen of your visual art, it seems like you mostly focus on organic subjects — human and animal — but with kind of a sharp edge to them, with more edgy blacks and reds than you’d normally associate with the subjects. I hope I’m not mischaracterizing this, but what leads you to this sort of approach, with a slightly gnarly eye toward the everyday?
Nope, you captured it pretty perfectly. I think that having a gnarly eye for the everyday is a throughline in my work. Though it is most strongly evident in my visual art, it is a quality heavily inspired by music. I am of Irish decent and was raised on bluegrass and early Tom Waits albums. There is a darkly romantic undercurrent that appeals to me in many folk songs, tall tales and noir novels. I enjoy the unexpected. Taking things that may not seem to sit together well and making them coexist.
As you mentioned, I render figures in a stark black and white style. It is the natural inclination of the medium of block printing that things have this starch contrast. I was drawn to it because it allowed me to combine some of my favorite influences the graphic novels of Frank Miller, the punk art of Raymond Pettibon, the emotive expressionist prints of Kathy Kalowitz. I like to render everyday figures in the traditions of religious iconograghy or folk art to elevate the mundane. I enjoy dressing up in a really cute outfit and having lyrics that are deliberately blunt or slightly brutal.
It’s embarrassing to have to keep borrowing things, disorienting to reach for a tool that isn’t there, devastating to think that my dog will never greet me at my door again.
Finally, I understand that you dealt with a really tragic loss recently, in regard to your home and dog. I hope I’m not treading into too sensitive of territory, but do you want to expound on this a bit? How have you managed to recover and rebuild from such a difficult event?
The local arts, music and pin-up girl community have all been a tremendous support system. A GoFundMe campaign campaign and several fundraiser events allows us to find a new place and gather some new essentials. It’s a strange and humbling feeling to know that we might very well be homeless without the direct financial and personal support of our community. It’s hard to live up to. But it gives us a reason to get up and work just as hard or harder than we did before. It’s embarrassing to have to keep borrowing things, disorienting to reach for a tool that isn’t there, devastating to think that my dog will never greet me at my door again.
It has been particularly difficult for me, as the house that caught fire was my childhood home. As illustrated by so much in this conversation, my childhood and my upbringing shaped and colored so much of who I am. The backdrop of all those stories is forever changed. It is a loss I am only starting to comprehend, a thing I can only look at sideways.
Curated by: Morgan Enos
Conducted by: Email
Published: February 27, 2018
Total questions: 10 + 7
Word count: 1991
Reading time: Seven minutes
Angelina La Pointe, Are We Okay? Podcast, arrangement, basics, bass, beholden, borrow, California, campfire, ceramic, Certain Sparks Music, childhood, Chris Lambert, contrast, deconstruction, despondency, devastation, drums, echo chamber, elaboration, Elmer’s glue, embarrassment, essential, generation, graphics, guitar, hospital, illness, Lompoc, mania, media, mirror, nightlight, Nirvana, painting, palette, pin-up, purple, rain, reluctance, rhythm, rockabilly, skateboarding, songwriting, sugar, systematic, The Luck, The Ramones, upbringing, variation, viscera, visual art
About the curator
Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.
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