City: New York City
I met with electronic musician Travis Egedy, better known as Pictureplane. We met in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn where he now lives. He said it reminds him of his years spent in Denver, “Bushwick has that feel. It’s a similar community with that whole DIY-American-culture-warehouse scene.”
He was wearing an Air Jordan Nike swoosh earring and I noticed his Air Jordan tattoo. “The Jordan thing to me isn’t about Jordan or Nike. It’s about human potential and achievement, exceeding full potential.” He also has an X Files tattoo and told me that he likes to wear things he actually loves. “I have no interest in irony. I think it’s real boring and a waste of time. It’s been done a long time ago. Why not be genuine. The world needs more genuine people talking about things they feel are real.”
Back in Colorado, he lived at an art gallery North of Denver’s industrial area that doubled as a music performance space. It housed five to ten people. It was called Rhinoceropolis. “There was a vote process for the name in 2006. The name that I voted for was Mutant Prison Basketball Challenge.” He described this place as beautiful, a constantly rotating art space by local artists.
Travis grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place he describes as possessing a “mountain hippie vibe.” He played drums in the elementary school band and took guitar lessons because he was “obsessed with Nirvana and alternative music. I remember my parents buying me an acoustic guitar.” His parents suggested that once he learned that, they could invest in an electric one. “I thought it was the lamest thing ever. I wanted to shred on the guitar and this was like 4th grade or something and I thought that the acoustic guitar was just about the lamest thing I could get.” He never played guitar after that.
Instead, he got into synth music in high school, spending a lot of time messing around on a keyboard recording himself inspired by hip-hop and underground rap. He spent years in his bedroom making albums of music that no one ever heard, although the music can be discovered online under his old rap name Area66. He began making Pictureplane music in 2004. “I didn’t start really making any money from tours or anything until 2009. So, it was a long time before it was serious or whatever, but it was always serious to me, an honest art form.”
His 2009 full-length debut LP Dark Rift was well received in the music world; Pitchfork rated it a 7.3. It was inspired by “The cosmos and our place in the solar system. It [looked ahead] to 2012 and galactic alignment.” He prefers not to write songs about girls or relationships, rather to concentrate on bigger pictures. One of his songs entitled “Negative Slave” is about being “the opposite of a slave, about being someone that’s free—breaking down chains, even if they are self-imposed chains or barriers.”
Besides being an acclaimed electronic musician Travis is also an artist. He held an art show for some of his work at Fitness Gallery in Bushwick on 5 July 2013. He spent a lot of time prepping for it, making massive 6-foot-tall digital prints. For a while Travis focused on art inspired by S&M imagery in “appreciation for really sexually conscious people who aren’t afraid to search for things that really make them happy.”
Both his art and his music reference goth culture and have a certain dark quality. He told me he has a “fascination with morbid aesthetic, kind of goth-looking things.” He wants his music to be “serious and dark but shedding light on topics that need to be talked about that are really dark and shit. I put that into my artwork to [showcase] the evils of the world.”
Travis just recently finished a North American tour with Crystal Castles. He is currently working on a new album, one that will have some “real pop songs” that still maintain the Pictureplane feel. He has been revisiting a lot of music he used to love in high school, 1990’s hip-hop in particular. Look for his new single entitled “Self Control” out on Acephale Records this Fall.
Interview of Travis Egedy by Gina Tron
Photographs by Vanessa Irena