There are those rare conversations in life where time slows down and every sense is simultaneously awakened. A few weeks ago at the classic Belasco theater in downtown Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to get to know visionary artists, Alex and Allyson Grey who were live painting at the Gem and Jam Pre-Party.
The event itself was full of attendees in glittering regalia and psychedelic spectacles on stage. Live painters such as The Greys and Amanda Sage lined the stage and perimeter while handmade wares such as StarDust Love hoods were peppered throughout the venue. The walls pulsed with the earthly vibrations of bass music as the artists happily stroked their canvases to electronic beats. This event was just a microcosmic preview of what the Gem and Jam Festival in Tucson, Arizona will have to offer attendees this upcoming weekend.
As the evening progressed, as all evenings do, I anxiously awaited my long anticipated interview with Alex and Allyson Grey. My intention was not to drill them with a series of questions but rather to engage in a conversation wherein I could not only draw natural responses from them but also a feeling of camaraderie. I wanted to learn about them less through questioning and more through interaction. They patiently and graciously sat with me as the walls of their dressing room rattled with the sounds of Andreilien.
We began the conversation by discussing the influence of sound. Painting such intricate pieces, I wondered how sound, not just music, but also the geophony and biophony of nature, influenced their creative process. Though we spoke of many topics ranging from psychedelia to language, what I really wanted to draw out of them for this article was their relationship with sound.
Alex: I think sound and vision are all vibratory emanations...it's the way the soul flowers, art and music. It comes from this creative longing...there's an element of Eros involved in the entire creative process and that's classically what it's associated with. You can draw it from the most basic kind of pulse of creation in a very physical sense.
Also, art and vision have ways of pointing to the infinite and to the visionary realms that many of these electronic musicians are pointing to, so I think that's why there's a congruence of visionary artists and electronic musicians, because they are attempting to bring into the manifest realm some glimpse of their journey.
Allyson: Alex and I, who have shared a studio for forty years, we sometimes share music and sometimes we play separate things. Occasionally we have silence and listen to the crickets and the frogs but mostly we have 'DJ Alex' who is our musical DJ or 'DJ media' who is our news, cultural affairs and talk radio. We DJ day and night in the studio and we always have music throughout the house and that's what we paint to.
Alex: We also love and have quite a broad selection of classical music as part of our sonic environment and in fact, if we are journeying, it's more likely that we are listening to something like Bach.
Allyson: Yeah or Philip Glass, something classical.
Alex: Definitely in that department, something kind of rich and multidimensional as classical music because that stuff is the most intricate ornament to experience.
Morena: So then who are some of your favorite classical composers?
Alex: Bach, number one.
My interaction with the Greys was a beautiful moment in my life's trajectory that provided a warm reminder that I am following my intended path. The Gem and Jam Pre-Party was a night of spectacle and vibration. Familiar faces and beautiful designs created a truly immersive event that was difficult to leave, even after its extended 4am closing time. The 10th annual Gem and Jam Festival itself will surely be an even more magnanimous expression of the aesthetics and atmosphere of this Los Angeles event and will be occurring the weekend of February 12th-14th. Just as sound and art go together, so do gems and jams.