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Janita’s Fascinating New Video

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New York musician Janita talks about the beautifully atmospheric video for “Traces Upon Your Face.

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The video for “Traces Upon Your Face is gorgeous. Totally in tune with your growth as an artist and performer. What’s interesting to me is, while you’re a natural in front of the camera, you’re actually behind the scenes in this one, yet represented onscreen by a beautifully articulated marionette – which is something you may have even felt like at some points in your life before you cut away those strings. Am I reading too much into it?

Thank you so much! Yes, I’ve absolutely felt like a marionette at times in my life, and I’ve addressed that in my songwriting too, in different ways. The fact that there’s a marionette in my video is not a coincidence. Ironically I feel like I’m more present in this video than I am in any other one so far..! The director, Charlie Harjulin, had previously made a deeply moving video about being bound and restricted, and what I saw made me keen to work with him. Busting out of cages of all sorts––whether they are of my own making, or created by others––is a central theme in my life.

The song and video are beautiful, yet there’s real worry being expressed in both. You’re singing about the fear that a new love may turn out “just like the others” and visually we’re seeing a girl lost in the woods, haunted by the past, not sure who she can trust. Yet you’re putting your heart out there even though you’ve been hurt before, which brings an optimism to the song. Am I getting that right?

Yes, that’s exactly right. The song “Traces Upon Your Face” is about exorcising the ghosts of the past––wanting to move forward, and to learn to trust. I personally have an unwillingness to stay stuck, and it drives me, even when I’m scared beyond my wits; and however dark a song I write, there’s always hope and optimism bubbling underneath. I’m happy to hear that it comes through to the listener, and the observer. I have to say, I’m still amazed at how well that worry, courage, and soul can be expressed through a marionette. For me, the character is genuinely touching.

Artists like Bjork have relied on beautifully abstract videos, too. I think it opens up opportunities for the viewer/listener to make some of their own interpretations. It certainly strikes different chords than music by itself. Are you a visual person? Howso?

I am a visual person, yes. Music, dance, and visual art were of equal importance to me as a kid, and I think that those early interests are a real clue as to what people are most inclined to be when they grow up. These days, I frequent museums and exhibits, and I’m very inspired by visual art, lighting, videos, movies, personal style…. My latest album, “Didn’t You, My Dear?”, this new video, my recent live performances, my photography, and artwork, etc., have all come together––for what feels like the first time––to represent accurately who I am as an artist. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be seen for who I am. Particularly after so many years of having been a marionette (there it is again….), a tool for other people’s careers and aspirations.

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I’m reminded a bit of The Dark Crystal, or videos done by the Brothers Quay (Tool, Michael Penn). Yet this is all in-camera work. Not stop-motion and no CGI, right? It’s a performance in and of itself. How’d you get involved with filmmaker Charlie Harjulin and artistic director Margarita Leonore? How hands-on were you in the process?

Thanks! Yeah, I see that. As a kid in the 80’s in Finland, I grew up watching Polish, East-German, and Czech doll animations on TV. It’s what was on, and with only two or three TV-channels at the time, my options were limited. But I developed a real love and appreciation for puppetry then. So when Charlie Harjulin introduced me to Margarita Leonore’s work online, I was immediately enthralled. Her puppetry had a nostalgic quality for me––reminding me of my childhood––and the visual felt right for the song.

Charlie and I have actually known each other since we were five years old. We were classmates for more than a decade, and even childhood sweethearts. We’ve remained friends throughout the years, but we’d never worked together until this project. I was determined to participate in the production of this, and ended up traveling to Barcelona where Charlie and Margarita both live, to help out with the filming. I even got a chance to do some puppeteering myself!

True, it’s all in-camera work, and no CGI––everything is performed live on a surprisingly small set. While I was on set, we cut up and mushed those rotten veggies you see (and we smelled…), broke countless glow sticks, twirled hand-held lights (that ended up weighing a TON…), and bribed volunteers with pizza. A couple of long, but incredibly rewarding days for me. I was present for the production as much as I could be, and I’m so happy I went for it. It was truly an unforgettable experience!

I have your record Didn’t You, My Dear? in heavy rotation. It’s one amazing track after the other. I know it took a lot of emotional investment to write, record and perform… but I’m selfishly dying to know what’s next. Are you writing new material?

Thank you––that’s wonderful to hear. I am indeed writing new material! My lyrical perspective is changing, and I’m using more imagery these days, which is exciting and challenging at the same time. Musically, some of my classical background seems to be rearing up its head, and I also have some new folk influences that are working their ways in… However, my next album won’t be a departure from Didn’t You, My Dear?, rather a natural evolution and continuation. I’m interested now in building a body of work with a singular vision, which is a sensibility that wasn’t available for me in the past as an artist. I’m hugely motivated by what’s to come, but also thrilled about what’s going on right now. I’m determined to savor every moment!

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Brooklyn's own MC Krispy E has an opinion about most things you can put in your ear, eye, and mouth holes.

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How to Tell If You’re Motivated by Negativity

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We hold in high regard the tactics that allow us to succeed while disregarding that those same tactics stop us from succeeding correctly.  When you and everything around you is results oriented, how those results are obtained isn’t scrutinized when they probably should be. Seeing as how we can’t drug test for positive or negative motivators and no one really cares how you succeed as long as you are successful, why should you even care?

Well aside from your eventual therapist and the people who used to love you but have since left due to your unknowingly toxic behavior, your eventual cardiologist and pharmacist who will have to treat you for stress related illnesses,  you should probably care also.  If you are paying attention and observing the trail of emotional destruction left when using certain motivators,  particularly fear and negativity,  you would care much much sooner.

With that said, here are some hopefully helpful tips so you can identify and begin to correct.

1.  When someone asks you what you want, you typically respond with what you don’t want. “What do you want for dinner?” “Well we had pizza yesterday so I don’t want that and I had Chinese for lunch so that’s out…” Process of elimination is time consuming and quite frankly, if you want pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you should have it. We’ll deal with health choices later. Right now, let’s focus on HOW you make choices in the first place.

2.  The first thought that enters your mind after you say you want something are the reasons why it can’t be obtained. “I want to workout but I have no time. I want to pursue my interests but I don’t have the money.” Everything you currently have, you made the time and money for. It is possible for future aspirations as well.

3.  The motivator is not the desired result, but the ails that might occur if that result is not obtained. “You better get an education or your friends will leave you behind.” “If I don’t catch the early train, my commute is gonna suck!” Or none of that may occur and you day could progress perfectly fine. Since you can’t recoup emotional capital already extended, better not to expend it at all.

4.  You feel you need more in order to begin any task. You just really need to accept that you are enough.

5.  You focus on any time frame other than the present. Speculating on future failures only brings you current stress. Speculating on past failures only brings you current stress. Now speculating on past or future successes may seem beneficial but the fact is, if you are speculating at all, you are probably not present and that is the main ingredient required for success anyway. So don’t speculate!!!

The root of all negativity is fear and when fear is your motivation, you will constantly need to be afraid in order to progress. When confidence is your motivation, all you ever need to progress is to remain present.

I wish you all success in everything you hope to accomplish.

 

Sidebar: Michal Jordan once stated that fear of failure motivated him to accomplish 6 NBA championships. My question to him would’ve been  “How much more rings would you have had if confidence was your motivator and not fear?”  Sidebar Complete.

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Hip Hop Now

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Here’s five acts doing their thing in the first installment of Hip Hop Now.

Chicago rapper Saba‘s new record Care For Me features Chance The Rapper on “Logout.”

From Everything is Fine, a collaboration between rapper/satirists Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, here’s “Zero.”

Tyler, the Creator stays weird and rhymes chicken nugget with fuckit on rap nugget “Okra.”

Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions lost his cousin to police violence and channels that energy into the controversial “Like Me.”

Rapper/actor A$AP Rocky samples Moby‘s “Porcelain” on “A$AP Forver.”

Brooklyn's own MC Krispy E has an opinion about most things you can put in your ear, eye, and mouth holes.

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Aegyo – What the What?

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You know how you and your significant other do the baby talk thing? Come on, you do it, admit it. Sometimes you talk to each other in a childish voice or make silly little gestures that you would never use at, for example, a business meeting or at the dentist. Well, this is a whole cottage industry in South Korea and they call it Aegyo. 

Aegyo, a tool long leveraged by South Korean ladies to get what they want through sheer cuteness, has been leveraged by male and female K-Pop Idol groups to ginormous success. In fact, there are songs where one can do little cutsey gestures to the whole thing. Two popular aegyo anthems are The Gwiyomi Song and Oppaya, and there are videos aplenty on YouTube where folks of all ages and backgrounds vie for cringe-worthy cuteness. Some of these videos have millions upon millions of views. There’s even K-Pop Idol shows where folks watch each other express aegyo and react with howls of laughter.

Holy cow, the more I talk about this, the weirder it gets. Yet, I can’t look away.

Other cultures are jumping on the band wagon, too. Check out the videos below for some adorable examples.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcgGASL8EXo

 

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