by Mitchell Parrish & Noah Schneidman & You
Noah Schneidman is not your average boy. A talented musician and overall nice person, his newest project Full Walrus has developed quite the audience by exploring sounds & feels that appear familiar but often lead you down a sonic rabbit hole.
For the album release, he and his band will perform at Burlington’s Big Heavy World with support from two other rad locals Clever Girls & lean.tee. It’s a potluck. It’s a performance. It’s a showcase. It’s a community gathering.
Instead of me just blabbering about how you should go check it out, I had Noah go out and talk to friends, fans, people on the street about the music & cultural scene in Burlington and why shows like this are important.. So here it is.
NOAH: If you were to ask me what this event was about, I would say this: This event is a reflection of the exploration I made when recording hello. The album’s concept comes largely from my meditation on the concept of “experimental” or “counter culture.” I thought that the circumstance surrounding music which follows the definition of these terms was extremely interesting. I found that modern experimental music is not actually perceived the way that the artist intends due to the given and accepted label of “experimental.” To achieve the original aspirations sought out by experimental music (I think this is to push a listener outside of their comfort zone to potentially increase their exposure to unexplored sonic places) you must present the music as a melodic and accepted form. This is based on the idea that one can only be pushed out of their comfort zone if they are in their comfort zone to begin with. When someone sees that music has this given description of “experimental” they establish themselves outside of their comfort zone in preparation, thereby cancelling out the intended effect, or the “pushing”.
To summarize, this event is meant to be a balance between comfortable or traditional and new, unconventional, and ‘experimental’. This is meant to be achieved through the artistic aspirations of everyone involved.
How do you feel about the artistic community(ies) in Burlington? Do you feel like you are a part of that? Why or why not?
Every Burlingtonian recognizes the presence of a booming artistic scene. That’s why they come. The visual arts district, the food culture, the plethora of DIY venues and small bars that house bands oozing with potential, and draw outside, bigger acts. The Radio Bean complex lies at the helm, Monkey House reps Winooski, Artsriot destroys apathy in the South End–to name a few, every niche provides a home for a subculture of this wider, more ambiguous category of art. It’s a beautiful thing to bask in if you are a maker. Many of us came here as students, starting out naive and unaware of this burgeoning scene. College fostered our skills; as painters, as sound engineers, as sculptors, as writers. We met our best friends here, our significant others, our future bandmates and confidants. The scene is slightly indebted to the vibrant college culture. Yet, despite this, many of the universities here have failed to truly support artistic growth. UVM has favored STEM, and the Gross School of Business, while they’ve cut graphic design and music courses. Saint Michael’s art department is underdeveloped, and with little resources to offer. This is not to say that there haven’t been successes. Champlain churns out gamers, designers, and film students, and though under-supported, folks have still managed to create and earn careers in their fields.
I’ve lived in a co-op called Gnarnia for about six months now, and since I have been given the opportunity to embed myself more solidly into the artistic community. In a house with seven other people, our sense of community is incredibly strong, and not to mention the variety of interests and skill sets that fellow housemates have. Megan, guitarist and singer as well as member of Julia Caesar, Devin, a visual artist that creates audio-visual sculpture, Steve, the man behind the Jambulance and master of sound–all the ingredients for musical involvement. Though I don’t play an instrument, I’m surrounded by those that do. With a large basement, we’ve been booking DIY style shows, though unfortunately, noise ordinance hasn’t been so kind, and our neighbors have called the cops on us. We’re currently undergoing sound-proofing installation, and have hopes to get back in the game of throwing shows without angering those around us.
Suffice to say, the artistic community is no short of incredible in this small city. However, this richness of culture brings with it complications relating to politics of social capital, and naturally can create hierarchy. In this world, it’s all about who you know, and partly how you know them, and knowing them at the right time and at the right place. And that can be a great thing; connections fuel us, inspire us, and make projects possible. Yet, this can bring out the worst in people, with desires to rise above, this sense of knowing others can be turned into a gain of higher position in the scene. Additionally, gender and inclusion plays a massive role in creating a successful scene. Being female-bodied and performing, it can be tricky walking into a show where the ratio is wildly out of whack. A majority of the audience is male-bodied, the performers are male-bodied. This brings up problems best addressed by questions. Naturally, gender imbalance can feel exclusionary. 1. If I don’t see people like me here, should I myself be here? 2. If I don’t see people like me performing here, would I ever have a chance of performing/would my performing here be welcomed? 3. Am I safe in this space because I am a minority? These problems affect the DIY community most often, though professional venues are certainly not exempt from this. There are ways, however, to shift power, create safe spaces, and to spread the creative love. Booking a variety of bands, and with bands that have a variety of gender will draw different crowds, and make for a more diverse bill. Local groups, notably, Tuned In, a cooperative collective, advocate for giving back power to female and non-binary folks who have been marginalized in the scene, and creating a safe space free of out of control substance use and more focus on the art.
– Marley Zollman
Do you think there is a mainstream arts culture? Where do you see yourself in that picture?
No. There is no mainstream arts culture. The guise of the “mainstream culture” is simply a pressure put on creators by, mainly, the market, and the institution. There are mainstream issues, hot button topics such as race relations and gender identity that many more artists are choosing to address in their works, as these issues are becoming more discernible in modern entertainment, policy, etc. There also exists a pressure to conform to popular, or mainstream, mediums (ie. the rise of conceptual performance art in the last 50 years) that, as this mode of expression is generated with more frequency, can create the pretense of a “mainstream culture”; but that is false, as medium does not portend culture (instead, culture generally guides medium). There exists no true “mainstream arts culture.” A mainstream Aesthetic culture has not existed since the ages of Greco-Roman art; Art has since been freed from the tether of Divinity and is now allowed to explore sheer pleasure.
I do not belong to any mainstream arts culture, nor do you belong to any mainstream arts culture.
– Kate Malstrom
How would you describe the cultural climate of this time? What is it in the world that drives you to make art? What inspires you?
The cultural climate at the moment holds a lot of tension. Between the politics and the people ready to grow and the others who want to keep to old ways. It can be both very negative and both inspiring to see others around you doing beautiful work. I think I was put on this Earth to help others and show them what they are capable of. Art for me has helped guide me to a new way of this things, pulled me out of the darkness. When I’m creating, I let something out that I feel sends a positive energy into the mostly messy climate we’re all living in. For me, my art as an object isn’t meant to inspire, it’s mostly for me. But, the action of creating art is what makes the world a better place. For this is one of the reasons I want to teach art to kids, to expel this energy into the world from them, so one day we all live in a harmonized world.
– Autumn Lee
What is it like to make art as a young person in the modern/internet age? How do you choose a path/aesthetic/style?
I think it’s become simultaneously easier and harder to be an artist in the context of the internet and how we interact with it. It’s easier to have multiple avenues to promote yourself, but it’s just as easy to have your work exploited, I feel. There seems to be far less respect for artists in terms of citing work since it’s so easy to lift when it’s on the internet. This may have something to do with the overwhelming amount of exposure we have to art (which is awesome); since we spend less time with each artist it’s easy to truly appreciate how much work goes into each of those pieces. I still don’t even understand the intricacies of protecting my own work, but the internet has become something you just have to use to get started and continue as a working artist.
Aesthetics styles is another case of there being so many avenues that it’s hard to pick just one. The internet makes it easy to have fast access to millions and millions of different artists to pull inspiration from. This is extremely helpful, but it’s still sometimes hard to pinpoint where your own style lies in relation to your inspiration. I think that an aesthetic isn’t necessarily a choice, per se, but more about what style seems to come back to you again and again, something you sink into. There’s an instinctual element to it. I can keep pushing those boundaries, round out my skills to inform myself, but I usually come back to what I have an affinity for. Beyond that, artists have to balance their personal style and goals with what is marketable, something I think we juggle for as long as we are creating.
– Erin Bundock