Geoff Geis

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Echo Chamber – coming this summer!

Okay, so I’m writing for LA Record again!

conradjoetext96hdark12aI actually quit on my own volition. My column, “Heart of Darkness,” was supposed to be all about my adventures going to underground shows on the East Side. And maybe I did a pretty good job at first, but eventually it became a chore because I burned out on going to shows and stopped being a legitimate representative of the scene I was supposed to represent…

I’m in a different place now, and I’m glad. And so the next print edition of the magazine will include my first column in a while.

I’m really excited about the subject matter of this one: a collaborative art space called Echo Chamber in the former Echo Curio spot on 1519 Sunset Blvd. It taps into history, but it also promises the future. Curators Sarah Cisco and Rhea Tepp have been putting a ton of effort into doing something aimed at expanding our ideas about what communal arts spaces can be.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 11.30.50 AMI was going to post my column here today in order to help them on Kickstarter — but they’ve actually already achieved their goal! So I’ll save my column for the magazine, which should be available all over town in the next couple of weeks. I know I’m excited.

But even though they’ve already reached their own goal, Echo Chamber has pledged to donate the first $400 they receive over their goal to helping out other community spaces: the Smell, Pehrspace, LA Fort, and HM 157. So go and support not just Echo Chamber but the greater DIY/DIT community by donating on Kickstarter. Join the club!

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 11.31.01 AMHere’s a bit of the interview that I did with Rhea to prepare the article. Much of this didn’t make it into the actual column because I had to focus on all the rad events that are coming up! In the following passage, Rhea expounds upon the nature of DIY/DIT spaces and her motivation for putting together projects like this.

The first event is July 3, by the way. You should RSVP on Facebook.

Here’s Rhea:

“There is a sense of urgency within the DIY/DIT community that both empowers its existence and makes it quite vulnerable. For those who choose to create the spaces for individuals to express freely, operating these venues is their art.

I certainly consider organizing Zine Fest and Echo Chamber a facet of what makes me an artist. I find a lot more freedom available as a performer in a space than I do as the space creator. If I use a curse word while performing, the FCC isn’t going to be sitting in the audience waiting to tell me I can no longer share my art with the public. It terrifies me to imagine that as an actual reality, but in a sense, that’s the type of restriction that artists who open independent creative spaces are facing.

Those who want to open a creative space with artistic intentions first and foremost, and business intentions second, third or perhaps not at all, are incredibly restricted in their ability to do so.

There is also a disconnect between artists and our local government, so often the resources feel inaccessible that would allow for an artist who is not also a business person to create that space. It can be difficult as an artist in Los Angeles to know if our local government values independent artistic communities. A number of local venues have been shut down over the years (Echo Curio, Church on York), close out of fear, or reevaluate their initial mission in order to operate.

One space that definitely stands out as one that has had to reevaluate its purpose for the community is the L.A Fort. The space has been open for a year and a half and began with a focus on live music. After being unable to continue hosting shows, the space is now a membership-run collective of individual studios.

I want to create a temporary environment for collaborations between all types of artists, face-to-face. I value the connections I make with people at a live music show, but those moments are often lacking the environment to create and share ideas together. An event like L.A. Zine Fest certainly revealed to me that the desire for these connections exists and is incredibly powerful right now within this culture.

I want people to put down their smart phones for a moment and be open to making a zine beside someone, or maybe even with them. I want people to share stories of what the creative process is like and take time to connect through these experiences.

Check out the next issue of LA Record for more…

Filed under: Art, Events, geoff geis, Human Interest, music, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Letter to my city councilman

Today, LA Weekly published an article about the myriad difficulties facing independent arts and music spaces in Los Angeles’ East Side. Reading the article made me angry again about the 2010 closing of Echo Curio and scared anew about the future of spaces like Pehr.

We did just elect a new city councilman, though. Thus, now is a great time for those of us who care about these venues to express ourselves. Mitch O’Farrell, the new councilman, campaigned on his knowledge of the district and his engagement with the citizens therein – so we have every reason to believe that he’ll listen to us.

As the LA Weekly article suggests, there are several people making a concerted effort to destroy what we want to protect. Certainly, these folks are making their cases to the councilman-elect. We should also make our case to him, so that he doesn’t see it as a one-sided issue.

So, if you care about independent art and music in LA, I hope that you’ll take some time to tell Mitch O’Farrell that you do. His campaign email address was Mitch@MitchforCityCouncil.org, but since the campaign is over I decided to send a message to his Facebook account. I’m really not sure what the best method is.

This is the letter I wrote:

——–

Hi Mr. O’Farrell:

Congratulations on becoming the next city councilman for District 13. I supported your election and I’m not only happy that you won but that you did so with grassroots support against a well-financed machine candidate, John Choi. That’s awesome.

Now that you’ve been elected, I’d like to draw your attention to an article in LA Weekly about the difficulties faced by independent arts and music spaces that operate in District 13. While I understand that there are legitimate concerns from both residents and club owners in Echo Park, onerous fees and aggressive legal tactics have had a deleterious effect on the creative capital of a region that is known and admired for its creative capital.

As a long term participant in the venues here, I can attest to the positive impact of spaces like Echo Curio, Pehrspace, Sancho and the Echo Country Outpost which have unique value as magnets for the types of thinkers and artists who make Echo Park such a vibrant, desirable communities. The Echo is certainly expert at making money and drawing big acts like the Rolling Stones, but part of the reason it’s so successful is that the ground here is so fertile. The artists, musicians, curators and promoters that make the independent scene work are responsible for that fertility, and many of them will use the lessons they’ve learned and connections they’ve made to create profitable creative ventures (many of them, ironically, hosted or produced by people like Mitchell Frank) in the near future.

So, as you look at this issue, I sincerely hope that you take take both sides into consideration. Surely there are things that can be done to create a strong and legal balance that takes everyone’s concerns into account and keeps our creative culture vibrant! I don’t presume to have a specific solution, but I sincerely urge you to work for one.

Thank you,

Geoff Geis, Glassell Park 

Filed under: Art, Human Interest, , , , ,

Here they come, the Part Time Punks

Our second PTP, March 2007

Part Time Punks has a storied history, one that has been significant to me. The club started operating, every Sunday night at the Echo, right around the time that the New Motherfuckers (who became Pizza!) moved into a house on Alvarado Street in Echo Park together. In the early stages of being a band, we would see the club’s ubiquitous black-and-white posters around the neighborhood and talk about how much we wanted to play it. Eventually we worked up the nerve to bring DJs Michael Stock and Benny Shambles a copy of a 5-song demo we’d made, and they invited us to play. When we performed at Part Time Punks for the first time, in October of 2006, we felt like we were beginning to actually do something as a band.

Even though I don’t go to PTP as frequently now as I did in the past, I’ve continued to cherish it. Last year, I got to see the Raincoats thanks to Michael’s excellently curated PTP fest, and I ended up getting to write a review of my heroes as my first published work in LA Record. I’ve also had the honor of playing with Pizza! on Michael’s radio show, and have fond memories of spending long hours hanging out with Ben (who now lives away from Los Angeles, unfortunately) in the kitchen of Tiny Creatures and talking about our mutual love of James’ mid-eighties Village Fire EP. Part Time Punks was also the location of my very worst episode of bad gas: while attending a (terrible) Ariel Pink show in commemoration of PTP’s second anniversary, I was struck by sulfuric farts that rumbled in my belly and pushed out with a vengeance that completely disgusted everyone around me. I fart a lot, so the fact that those farts still stand out in my mind suggests that they were, indeed, epic.

On Sunday, Part Time Punks celebrates its fifth anniversary.

In 2007, Drew and I conducted interviews with Michael and Ben for Tiny Creatures Magazine. Print copies of that thing are probably long gone by now, but I dug up the interviews on my computer and I’m publishing them here:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Events, Features, Human Interest, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About


I'm a musician and writer from Los Angeles. When I feel motivated, I use this website to share my creative output and give my thoughts on the world around me.

Vanity Projects

I release cassettes and zines under the Vanity Projects label; I've done things by myself and also things by friends. Visit Vanity Projects on Tumblr.

@GeoffGeis on Twitter

Music

This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

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