The Artist of the Month of February 2011 is Cody Critcheloe, selected by Grand Arts Artist Director Stacy Switzer.  Hot off from a New Orleans adventure, an ebullient Cody tells all:

MB: The caricature in the print looks the persona you have performed in the past.  Who is this character?  What is his story?

Cody Critcheloe, "Moschinopeacepunkd," 2011

CC: It’s just me with a wig on and some make-up. really into vintage moschino right now cause the guy i’m dating wears it everyday, so i was just sort of ripping that off… make-up is typical ssion i guess – i’m sort of over that look though – the new SSION record is almost done, so i’ve got a completely different look coming together… i shaved off my moustache and i’ve been on a cleanse for 3 months now… i weigh almost 95lbs… i look EEE-MAZING!

MB: Who are some of the other artists involved with the new SSION record?  

CC: Musicians i’ve worked with on the new record – azari and iii, nick weiss from teengirl fantasy, michael cheever and ian pai -they do stuff with fischerspooner… i’m coming back to nyc to work with bruno from light asylum on a track… this is the first time i’ve worked with so many different people/producers on a record. i’m really excited about it… it might sound more like a mixtape, but the record is coming together – it fits well. i’ve also been working on some tracks with long time collaborators JAM and Albert Redwine. we’re gonna release the record for free through the ssion website -it seems like the most punk thing to do.

We’re debuting the live show at PS1 on may 12, 13, 14, 15. i’m working with longtime video collaborator drew bolton and a newbie, garrett fuselier on this crazy digital mapping thing for the live show…. seven projectors – the entire show is lit with projections of my drawings and stolen footage we’re filming right off youtube… hopefully a lot of the musicians that i collaborated on the record with will be able to show up throughout the show. it’s gonna be sick!!! you should come to one of the performances!

MB: Will there be videos to accompany it?

CC: I’m sort of sick of music videos at the moment… i still want to make videos and i would like to one day make a real-deal full-length feature film, but i feel like the medium of music video is sooooo boring. i just think there has to be a better way…
here’s the album cover. the album is called “BENT” -sort of dumb,totally pop and totally gay – very euro pet shop boys vibe.

MB:  All of that sounds promising.  If you like making music, and like collaborating, and have feature-length ambitions, and invoke visual aesthetics (“looks”) – could your followers expect a SSION opera?


CC: I sort of think everytime i make a record, the live performance is somewhat of an opera – i guess,  but, i’ve never been to the opera so i consider what i do to be more madonna truth or dare meets pee wee’s playhouse with some john paul goude and some darby crash decline of western civiliztion…


MB: What’s the nature of the youtube footage you’ll swipe?  Videos that inspire you?  Decorative background?  Or completely random?

CC: Most of the youtube footage is pretty generic stuff – volcanos erupting, sunsets, ocean waves, etc… then some of my influences -stuff that’s inspired the songs. the plan is to meld it with my drawings – so yeah, the swiped footage is all of that -just whatever it takes to make the narrative work and look good…

MB:  I’m especially interested in the youtube footage framing your drawings in the live show.  As search terms, the imagery might be generic, though that can rapidly change.  For example, videos of volcanos erupting and ocean waves now seem very specific and volatile, given recent world events.  Chaos is probably essential and vital to any artist who cites Darby Crash as an influence.  Do you feel compelled to take responsibility (or credit) for the evolving connotations and consequences of the imagery you appropriate?  Or is it simply up to viewers to examine the imagery you present and draw their own associations?

CC: I was just thinking about that – there is a new song on the record called “earthquake” that i wrote last year after i broke up with this dude… someone i was totally in luvv with – it was the first love song i’d ever written and it’s probably one of my favorite songs cuz it’s less anthemic and more personal, but i’ve really been struggling with how to represent that song visually in the live show – i don’t think it should be literal at all -never did- and with current events it seems so tricky – i don’t really know… i’m sure someone somewhere is going to be offended… i’ve never worried about that in the past.


MB: Also, who are some of the influences (“stuff that’s inspired the songs”) you might include?

CC: Sonically i loved the last MIA record, that was a breath of fresh air… wasn’t really into her live show that much; recently got back into sonic youth -was obsessed with them when i was a kid – there are a few jam tracks on the new record – stuff that’s less of a 3 minute pop song one song is 12 minutes long – really like it – i guess it’s my “diamond sea;” 

madonna ray of light has been hitting me hard lately – her voice is like comfort food to me. it’s not that great, but its just comfort – plain and simple. actually she has a great voice for pop music. that’s why i think christina aguleria should just do sultry jazz ballads or show tunes – she doesn’t have a convincing voice for pop music – it’s just too good.  forever and always LIVE for BOY GEORGE -amazing voice – total smokey robinson;

love judy blame/moschino; wiseblood -stumbo -this performance is amazing; obsessed once again with PJ Harvey To Bring You MY Love – production is soooo sick. it’s truly weird.

calvin klein’s autobiography; lydia lunch; PUSSY GALORE – the band – my favorite punk band ever; love that tao cruz song “dynamite”
ke$sha is oddly inspiring. her live show is amazing… she’s connecting with kids hard core… you haven’t really made it till you can sell out an arena in the heartland!!! srsly, she’s like the music version of ed hardy – which i guess is cool now in an ironic way maybe – jukebox babe by alan vega – i wrote a demo off that guitar sample then we fucked the hell out of it – it’s the weirdest rack on the record.


SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN; going to the top of building and feeling so small and powerful;

drawing – i have to remind my self how much i love to draw… i feel like if i draw everyday it allows me to work through anything – sounds cheesy, but i feel like drawing keeps my head clear and brings me good luck -U KNOW WHAT I MEAN;

pierre and giles; throbbing gristle; soft cell’s memorabilia; MNDR; light asylum; raul de nieves; actually huizenga; casey spooner; ryan tecartin – he should make a record – i think EVERYONE should make a record at some point in their life… if they wanna
alexis penney; my friends and collaborators in KC – the most amazing people ever; romantic comedies; unlimited sauces to dip food in; blondes in pop music; adam lambert; lady gaga – WHY DOES SHE CRY SO MUCH? OR WHEN SHE TALKS IT SOUNDS LIKE SHE’S GOING TO CRY? I DON’T BELIEVE IN BEING “BORN THIS WAY” BUT I LIKE THAT TRACK – THE END IS THE BEST PART – YOU CAN’T LIKE POP MUSIC AND NOT BE RESPONDING TO HER ON SOME LEVEL.
the death of copyright!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FREE MUSIC; google image search; LOVE; FALLING IN LOVE; pekingese dogs; live through this  + in utero; the beach/tanning; poppers on a treadmill; underwater dance club with internet access; QUINTRON; weed and speed; art, everytime i see it…


MB: And do you ever hypothesize about who your audience is?  Or do you prefer to make what you like and see who hollers back?

CC: I try not to think about the audience too much. there was a time when i became super concerned with being taken seriously and that was lame and as a result the record sucked and i lost control of it… i just try to make what i love and do it 100% – that seems to work most of the time.