Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lux Interior of the Cramps dies...

original article in the montclarion

Lux Interior, famous front man of the Cramps, died at 62 due to a pre-existing heart condition on Feb. 4.

The Cramps helped rockabilly get its way into the New York punk scene in the late '70s. With long-time fellow band mate and wife Poison Ivy, he created a sound and act that set them apart from the CBGB scene.

Though the line-up of drummers, bassists and guitarists has changed throughout the years, this didn't stop Interior and Ivy from touring and making albums with the same raw edge as they had years ago.

They have been considered to be the founders of psychobilly by some, which is a genre that is an incredible mash-up of rockabilly and punk music.

The Cramps have performed and recorded various covers ranging in artists and genres. They have explored rockabilly, surf and '60s garage rock. The Cramps made ghoulish interpretations out of anything from Peggy Lee's "Fever," to the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird."

One of their most popular songs was "Human Fly," where the Cramps give onomatopoeia meaning with Interior's buzzing and Ivy's echoing guitar. Other favorites are "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," "Goo Goo Muck" and "Garbage Man." It's hard to resist shaking one's hips or bobbing one's head to these tracks.

Their popularity was in its prime in the '80s, with their albums Psychedelic Jungle and Songs the Lord Taught Us.

With Interior's gender-bending fashion and horror-fueled lyrics accompanied by Ivy's mysterious glares, stage presence and guitar riffs, the Cramps put on a show that one would never forget.

Having memorable concerts like a free show at the California State Mental Hospital with patients dancing and singing along in 1978, to a show just as entertaining over 30 years later, the Cramps finished their most recent tour this past November.

Interior's infamous stage antics of stripping down to leopard print g-strings, shoving microphones in his mouth while singing during many songs and having those never-ending bottles of wine pour out of his lips; he made recent so-called shock rockers look like absolute amateurs.

Interior had also been an animal rights activist until his death. Instead of flowers, fans were asked to make donations to his favorite charity, Best Friends Animal Society.

The Cramps' official website said that Interior's death "was sudden, shocking and totally unexpected. Five days of heroic measures were unable to save him."

Leaving fans full of regret that they never went out to see the Cramps, or grateful that they got to see them in action(lucky me!), Interior will always be remembered as one of the most eccentric, creative and energetic frontmen and ring leaders of underground music culture.

b&w photo by Chad Johnson, colored by Stephen L Harlow

Estelle Bennet of the Ronettes Dies...

original article in the montclarion

With their dark, cat-eye makeup, high beehives and tight clothing, the Ronettes topped the charts with their hits "Be My Baby" and "Baby, I Love You" in the '60s. Though their unique look may have set them apart from other girl groups, their music made them become one of the most memorable groups of all time.

One of the trio, Estelle Bennett, was found dead in her apartment in Englewood, N.J., on Wednesday, Feb. 11. Her cause of death is unknown; she was 67.

The Ronettes composed of Bennett sisters Ronnie and Estelle and their cousin Nedra Talley started in 1959 and broke up in 1966. Being from New York City, their big break was in 1961, when they were supposedly confused with another trio and put on stage at the infamous Peppermint Lounge. They covered Ray Charles' "What'd I Say," and their talent quickly stunned many as they worked their way up to getting a record deal.

The group helped producer and songwriter Phil Spector perfect his signature "wall of sound" technique. By having a layered echoing ensemble of instruments behind the group's candy-coated, yet fiery voices, Spector and the Ronettes created music that remains engrained in people's minds after all these years.

After making a few recordings as a solo artist following the Ronettes' split, Bennett stopped making music. Her life changed drastically from fortune to dealing with the hardships of mental illness.

Bennett hid from the public eye, struggling with anorexia and schizophrenia (according to Talley) after her fame with the Ronettes.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Bennett refused to perform for fear of being overwhelmed, but gave a quick "thank you" and an awkward, "I'm Estelle of the Ronettes," at her acceptance speech during the ceremony.

Even though Bennett was a backup singer in the Ronettes, she had played a big part in creating their image. The overdone eye makeup and tall beehives that the group made their trademark can still be seen on fashion runways and on artists like Amy Winehouse, showing that their classic look hasn't gone out of style.

Bennett's death has touched many fans, leaving them devastated, along with her sister, Ronnie Spector, who left a note on her website saying, "To my beloved sister, Rest in peace, You deserve it."

Leaving behind her daughter, three grandchildren and sister, the memories of her synchronized dance moves and timid, yet sweet stage presence as one of the Ronettes will never be forgotten.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Liselotte Eriksson

original article in the montclarion

"A messy, easily distracted and often filthy record store clerk/artist with a great love for photography, chestnuts, dead things, avocado, big hair and Lady Grey tea with milk and shameful amounts of honey."

This is how Liselotte Eriksson from Sweden sees herself, and like every artist, her authentic personality sneaks its way into her art.
Eriksson, 28, grew up and still lives in Ã…kersberga, Sweden, just north of Stockholm. Having not taken any extra art classes other than the ones required in school, one is surprised by her talent in her illustration, photography and clothing/accessory-making skills.

Though influenced to make art by "anything and everything," Eriksson said that music in general has been very inspiring to her. A lot of her paintings are illustrations of her favorite songs.

"The Cure, definitely," said Eriksson when asked about music that's influenced her. "I discovered them when I was about 15, and it changed my life completely. Their way of being themselves no matter what other people think has greatly inspired me to do the same, to dare to be bold and express myself in any way I feel like."

From her self portraits as a bloodsucking zombie to illustrations of creatures from folklore and myth, her imagination is definitely intact, along with her amazing execution.

Her photography shows many different characters with staged shots, but also depicts regular days with her colorful friends. Her photo alterations in contrast and colors show the softness of a redheaded mermaid to the hard edge of a green-mohawked beauty.

Her newest project, Changeling's Closet, is a website where one can buy her wearable creations.

"It is an online shop where I sell handmade, wearable art inspired by nature and the world of faerie, such as charming little hats, horns, acorn pendants and hand-painted clothes. So far, it's all my own stuff, but I will eventually get work up by other people as well, jewelry and knitted hats among other things, and I'm hoping to sell unique perfumes as well," said Erikson.

She sells prints of most of her art online and has had customers from all around the world buy her art thanks to her website.
"I have had websites of different kinds since I was about 16. I started selling art online about nine years ago, and since then it has been my primary way to get my art out there," said Eriksson.

So if you want to add some color to any room, any of Liselotte Eriksson's creations are perfect for adding uniqueness to any bare wall.

all photos and art by Liselotte Eriksson