We spoke with Serena Jost about relating to spheres, the value of doing nothing, dreaming of blessed ocean water, eating snails as a child and developing a new melody-based language.
I like the endlessness of it, the ongoing movement, the fact that it can roll and that the eye can travel any direction or distance over and around it.
What geometrical shape do you most relate to? Is your choice because of a significance to the number of sides, or simply the aesthetic look of it?
A sphere. I like the endlessness of it, the ongoing movement, the fact that it can roll and that the eye can travel any direction or distance over and around it. You see circles and spheres in both nature and the human-made world, in old things and new things. I love the aesthetic of the shape, the elegance, the sense of possibility of something round and infinite.
Please tell me about the last time you were successfully swayed by a sponsored ad, TV commercial or billboard. What about it touched your wants, fears or insecurities? Did you develop “brand loyalty” for it?
I have purchased a lot of things from Zappos, so when their ads pop up in my feed, I end up circling back. Mostly, I look, but yes, the ad gets me to click and be distracted. It’s always a short-term promise, though. I mean, even if you buy something you really like, it’s more money on something unnecessary. Mainly, I feel like ads or web surfing can be an incredible time suck, so I ask myself what I really want to be doing with my time, including maybe creative work, reading or just doing nothing and being still.
What is the least pleasant thing that a stranger could say to you while essentially meaning well?
When I’m performing, I don’t necessarily expect compliments or feedback from people, but I do appreciate it when people say something. It means a lot. Sometimes though people say “good job” and while probably the person means well, it always feels odd to me, because performing is kind of more than a matter of doing a “good job.” It always feels incomplete. I guess ideally, someone is transported, or maybe they just clearly don’t like it which would also be fine, too. I never know how to take it, but art is not a job.
I was on top of this sort of scaffolding, and a saw almost a blessed kind of beauty from my perch. The light shone into the deep water and made it transparent.
If you could manifest your last nightly dream into reality, would you want to live in it, even if just for a day? Would you want that scene of phantasmagoria to be anywhere near the temporal world?
My most recent dream, a few nights ago, was about having the most spectacular view onto a large ocean-like body of water. I was on top of this sort of scaffolding, and a saw almost a blessed kind of beauty from my perch. The light shone into the deep water and made it transparent. Still, the water was very high and approaching, so I knew it could reach me. It was sublime, but I also knew I was tiny and could be consumed by the beauty. It was both inspirational and very scary. Maybe I could enjoy it for a day, but as often in dreams, the stakes are so totally high that it might prove to be overwhelming or devastating or unsustainable.
Please tell me about snails.
I ate snails in Paris as a child. My grandmother in Switzerland would pick very large slugs from her garden and throw them into traffic on the road. Once, it Denmark, I saw two snails copulating, slime and all, along a wall. A lot for my teenage eyes!
Please tell me about time. Is it distortable or concrete? Can you ever get it back? When you die, do you exist out of time forever, losing your hold on that concept?
I have experienced time to be going forward and backwards and to be occurring in both measured increments and in some greater flow. I feel like I go in and out of time and sometimes connect to something deep and far away that is maybe no longer here in the physical world but still present. Time is overlapping layers. Since I’m Swiss, I have a lot of watches, but I’m not attached to having to do things by a timepiece. I guess you can maybe not get time back but time is also sort of like concentric circles so you can get into different orbits. I cannot comment on death since I am alive.
Through the beauty or character of the melody and rhythm, people’s intuition would allow them to perceive meaning and lead to delightful and surprising exchanges of sound.
Please make up a new language in any way you want. Delineate the basic rules and grammar of this language.
The basic language would be phrase-based. Grammar would be secondary to sound and expression, and through the melody of the language, meaning would be communicated. There would still be exchanges like we are used to, but each person would have their own “words.” Through the beauty or character of the melody and rhythm, people’s intuition would allow them to perceive meaning and lead to delightful and surprising exchanges of sound. I have no idea how this language might be notated, but I can hear it.
Have you ever feared a number?
No. I love numbers. I love to make calculations in my head, enjoy counting forward and backwards during an activity like swimming, love wonderful fonts with numbers, and think that many numbers (and life events) are full of grace.
Finally, who do you think are our true masters — dogs, assistant managers or glowing screens?
Without a doubt, my dog Garbo is master of my heart. She is a wonderful lab-pit (plab) mix — black, sleek and strong. She has opened me up to so many things and I learn from her daily. She’s such an intelligent being and so expressive. Plus she loves it when I make music and has favorite (she sighs) songs. It is an honor to know her and guide her here in NYC and to partake in her delight at places like Riis Beach or in the woods.
Curated by: Morgan Enos
Conducted by: Email
Published: April 11, 2018
Total questions: 9
Word count: 953
Reading time: Four minutes
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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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