Give us a peek into your creative process, from inspiration to creation.  

I like to reproduce something I like, over and over and often- I like to self-refernce- until I feel like it’s become a fulfilled piece. Or, I’ve taken the concept and fulfilled it to the best of my ability- I think. I dont know, I dont ever pay that much attention to what the process is- but it definitely consists of iteration and reiteration. Self-documnetation.

Pick three of your strongest inspirations - people or work from any medium - and detail how their influence manifests itself in your work.

The Desert. Utah, the California Desert, the Southwestern United States. There are such vivid vision to be had out there; there are such fantastic forms. Nothing moves me like a big slab of rock- which brings me to my next point:

Brutalism. Nothing moves me like a big slab of concrete. Brutalist architecture feels like very fine, alive, and imposing temple architecture to me. But Brutalist art looks like wall decor in a waiting room. The desert and brutalism make me think of scale very much- the monumental- and they make me conscious of space and how a mass or volume exists within it.

And, Good product design, with a capital G. I might cite the Vignellis or Bialetti. Something about a good object with no thoughts of fads nor planned obsolescence. It has a purpose and permanence to it- even if it is just a metal coffee pot, it becomes part of a very long term ritual. This makes it a staple, a classic- timeless. I would like to make timeless art, and avoid certain images therein. A trend is a fickle friend- save yourself the time and money dont buy leather slides this ‘season'; save yourself the effort and don’t paint a potted plant. But, I totally did both of those things this year.

Your work undeniably plays in surrealism’s toolbox.  What draws you to depart from reality in your work?

I just don’t want my artwork to have the feeling of art with an agenda- there’s no commentary in it. That is to say, I want none. So I’m just left with introspection, self-reference, and things that don’t really have an ‘objective’ subject-matter.

I mean: I’ve been trying to peg what I dont like about certain art I see right now and aside from irony and cynicism, there’s a lot of hanging, blasé reference; art that is all ‘show it dont say it,’ but in a very bad way.  Like Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, Solid Gold Pepe (it is relavant and I don’t care if it’s literally Pepe the Frog™!), or B*nksy’s work. Warhol too, though he kind of started it. Point is, we live in an environment that puts the artist at such a distance from their work that the artist also begins to (sub?)consciously distance themselves, and eventually they are reduced to a mere observer who makes snide or catchy remarks through art and whose work is merely an indicator, directing a viewer to make an observation and telling them what feelings to leave with. I feel like that sums up all of B*nksy’s œuvres. An icon and an index, but hardly a symbol (I’ll expand this thought someday).

I feel like that’s why wit and irony have such a hold right now, and I dont like irony one bit. I dont think you should ever do something ironically. So for now I’m just avoiding depicting anything I can observe (figuratively- I am always staring) and depicting things that I am not perceiving in an effort to eliminate commentary in my work, (but goodness do I make a lot of commentary outside of my ‘work'), so it leaves only room for introspection, which naturally puts me in the vicinity of surrealism, stuck with this imagery for now.

Your works possess a captivating sort of dream logic.  What do you dream about most often, and do you pull from your dreams?

Dreams! Okay I get it I seem surrealist- I don’t have an opinion on my genre, but I get it. I really do feel that the artist no longer is an authority in the life an artwork takes on once it’s finished, so I respect that this feels surrealist, and what I feel about it really isn’t so important as the response from the viewer to a work of art as it exists in it’s cultural context and environs. 

But the surrealists were a bunch of at-best passively-sexist men, to whom a woman was a muse and an object onto which to project themselves, who I do not want to be casually bunched up with. I’m sure there’s some irrelevant exception nowadays (Frida Kahlo isn’t one), but I can’t be a part of a history that has actively excluded me, point blank. Maybe bunch me in with remodernists, if you want to put me in with something like the surrealists that badly, because they are my contemporaries and exist in my cultural context. Like even say I’m appropriating surrealism because that’s mad funny. I can’t exist as a surrealist because I’m not living at the real time of the movement (a conscious movement with a purposeful start) but rather I’m living with surrealism as a part of a history which informs my contemporary circumstance. I also realize now that it sounds like I dont like to be genre-ed but I’m not being stubborn and- perhaps I’m speaking as an art historian- I really mean it.

But to answer your question I hardly ever remember my dreams, and it is a bummer. My last dream was about driving a minivan and taking a French exam. I dream very often of driving, and in my dreams the sky is often purple.

If you were to branch into a medium you’ve never tried, what would it be and why?

I would do photography, but rather earnestly- I think I could become very serious about street-style photography because despite avoiding producing any commentary in my art, I am a Huge Critic of Everything.

Describe your studio space.  Under what conditions do you work best?

It’s actually very neat- I show up to a neat space, and I leave it neat when I go. Whether it’s my dorm or 404 Diana, a mess sets my teeth on edge.

Tell us about your engagement with Postcrypt.  What should we look forward to seeing next?

I’m an installation manager and I’ve curated a couple shows. One was about sensory experience and the other about the process of self-doccumentation. Right now we’re throwing the idea of food and performance around. My current concerns are our viewership and ability to get information about us circulating.

Got a project in the works that you’d like to tease for us?

Yes: With great hope for the future I say that this century will be bigger and better than the last.

Apparently, pink and blue is the official Pantone color combo of 2016.  You’ve employed this vivid pairing to great effect in your work - any opinions on this?

No, not really.

You can design album art for any musical group or performer. Whom and why?  

Someone who might make me very famous very fast: Kanye.


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Phil Anastassiou

Congratulations on releasing your first single on Rare Candy, “Holy Moly”! Why did you pick this song to be Drug Bug’s debut track?

Thanks! I thought it’d be a good first track to put out under the Drug Bug moniker mostly because it was one of the first songs I wrote right after moving out for college, which happened to coincide with when this project was conceived. In retrospect, it’s bizarre listening to the kinds of songs I'd write before then; they were all generally a lot folkier, just intended to be played solo and acoustically. To me, “Holy Moly” symbolizes the beginning of a new stylistic chapter in my songwriting, so it felt right to officially introduce everyone to the project with it.   

Your vocals are simple and raw, evoking a lot with a little. How does your background as an actor influence your musical storytelling?

My background in theatre definitely informs the way I go about writing and playing music, in that they’re both basically trying to do the same thing: tell a story, like you said. I guess in a lot of ways having that experience telling stories through the lens of a play made the transition to writing music a bit more natural for me. I’m sure a good amount of my lyrics could double as weird, trippy, confessional monologues. At the end of the day though, whether it’s through a play or a song, what I’m after as a writer isn’t very different at all. 

Give us a peek into your songwriting process. Feel free to do so in any format (diagram, elaborate metaphor, song itself…)

Each song sort of calls for its own unique writing process, but the music almost always comes first for me. Sometimes I’ll sit with a basic idea of a song for months before the right circumstances will come up in my life that’ll compel me to add words. I've tried, but I can’t usually write anything that feels worth listening to unless I’m actively experiencing the feeling I’m trying to capture in a song as I’m writing it. If I’m in the right mood, it can take a few hours from start to finish. Sometimes it’ll take years. Regardless of how long it takes, though, I always try to approach every song I’m working on with complete honesty and emotional transparency. I used to self-censor a lot when writing lyrics because I was scared of how it might change the way people perceived me if I were to be a little too candid when I'd talk about my mental health, just as one example. But the more and more I do this, the more I begin to understand that it’s that sort of honesty that turns people to music in the first place and I’ve been learning to embrace that lately. 

Who is your dream duet partner? What would a collaboration with them look like?  

The first person who immediately comes to mind is Emily Sprague of Florist. Ever since I listened to her first record The Birds Outside Sang, I’ve been a huge fan of her music. I love the brutal honesty of her lyrics, how delicately she layers synths with these beautiful, warbled guitar tones, the raw vulnerability in her voice. That entire record has been a major inspiration in my music lately and if I ever had the chance, I’d totally love to collaborate on something with her.

You spent the end of your summer recording the first Drug Bug EP in New Paltz with Christopher Daly at Salvation Recording Co. What was that like after mostly self-producing your own music?

It was a totally exhilarating and terrifying process in the best way possible. Like you said, anything I had ever recorded in the past I'd do by myself usually in my basement, tracking and mixing each instrument piecemeal with pretty limited equipment. I had never really recorded in a setting where there was someone else whose role was to engineer and produce the overarching shape of the record as a whole, and in many ways that was both a challenge and a huge relief to adjust to. My bandmate Mert Ussakli (who plays drums on the album) and I went upstate for five days in August and I honestly feel very lucky to have had the chance to make my first record with Chris. The beautiful thing about Salvation is that it doesn’t have that stuffy, rushed atmosphere that a lot of other professional studios tend to have. Instead it feels like you’re working at home with found family and that kind of environment is perfect for fostering a whole lot of comfort and creativity. Ultimately, Chris had just as much control in directing the sound and structure of the record as either Mert and I did. There’s still a little more work left to be done on it, but it’s very close to being finished and I’m stoked to share it with everyone once it’s ready.

In a few words, what would you say your new record’s primarily about? 

While the record doesn’t necessarily have a specific underlying narrative, a lot of thought definitely went into which songs made it on there and their arrangement was done very purposefully. It’s hard to put it into words since I’d rather let the songs speak for themselves, but I'd say it covers a good amount of terrain over the five tracks: getting high all the time, the initial excitement of falling in love and the fear of letting someone new in, mourning the death of a relationship you had a lot of hope in, reckoning with the burden of mental illness. Happy shit like that. 

Everyone has a song that feels like home - no matter how much time passes or how many phases you go through, this track is on rotation. What is yours?

A few come to mind, but I should probably go with “Kinder Blumen” by Real Estate. Anyone close to me knows that they’ve been one of my favorite bands for years and this is probably the first song of theirs that I really fell in love with. I grew up in essentially the town over from where they all met and started off in northern Jersey, and they tend to write a lot about bumming out in those sleepy suburbs, so maybe that’s why their music resonates so much with me. One of my favorite things to do for a while used to be driving alone on Route 17 late at night with their second LP Days on repeat. To this day it still makes me super nostalgic. 

If you could try any genre that is wildly out of your comfort zone, what would it be?

I’ve really been getting into a lot of lo-fi hip hop instrumentals lately and would love to fuck around in that corner of music if I knew more about how to make it. I’ve been trying to teach myself different DAWs that are better suited for producing electronic music than what I’m used to and so far it's been pretty mind-blowing for me.

What does your music taste like?

LSD and my tears, probably. 

What’s coming up for Drug Bug? Anything we should look out for?

We’re finishing up the EP and hopefully that’ll be out for everyone to hear soon. Also, we're playing lots of shows around New York over the next few months, a bunch of those are still in the works. Come through to one of them if you’re nearby, should be a real good time!