In a small studio tucked away in suburban Atwater Village preparations for the new Dark Dark Science show are underway. Curator Jessicka Addams, known for her musical career with noise-pop band Scarling as well as Jack Off Jill hurriedly prepares for LA MiXTAPE, alongside studio mate Lindsey Way, aka Lyn-Z, the high energy bassist of Mindless Self Indulgence. Collaborating with Dark Dark Science co-founder Brian Wakil, Jessicka has constructed an exhibition that features the absolute best figurative artists of today, such as Tim Biskup, Liz McGrath, Josh Petker, and Mark Ryden, many of whom have been blanketed under the moniker of “Pop Surrealism,” along with some unexpected celebrity artists, such as Fairuza Balk and Frances Bean Cobain. In a city that bursts at the seams with art and music, this exhibition synthesizes the two by creating a virtual mixtape chosen by the participating artists. As I peer around the studio, cluttered with art materials and adorable ephemera I’m taken off guard by a small sculpture representing Jessicka’s musical choice, Elliot Smith’s A Fond Farewell, represented by a sculpture of a bandaged boy crying tears of rainbow thread in a small landscape vignette with a kitten. He has a faint bleeding heart on his chest. We continue our discussion of nostalgia, collaboration, and kittens. This interview by Walt! Gorecki
What is the most memorable mixtape you’ve gotten?
Jessicka: I traveled to New Orleans to see an ex-boyfriend, well he was my boyfriend at the time, and my roommate made me this mixtape, and on one side it had all of these really sweet songs that said things like ‘Come back home,’ and on the other side was just all death metal because [my roommate] really hated the guy and was trying to say, ‘This is what will happen to you if you try to stay with him.’ It was all this crazy stuff like Eye Hate God, Mule, some Swedish death metal, and some Deicide that was really great. I played it the entire ten hours that it took to get to New Orleans. That mixtape always holds the fondest place in my heart, and we’re still friends. I’m sure a mixtape he made today would be even more diabolical.
Was your roommate right about the boyfriend?
Jessicka: Oh yeah, that guy was totally an asshole—he was absolutely right.
Lindsey: Have you ever had a mixtape where someone just isolates one lyric over and over?
Jessicka: No, I don’t think we had that technology in Florida
Lindsey: I had this friend, not even a boyfriend or anything, and she put in that Pantera song that goes, ‘I would kill myself for you, I would kill you for myself’ and that was the only part of the song that she put in. She and I had to have a really long talk about that.
Jessicka: Mixtapes you know, in the ’90s, they really helped a generation out. Two of the artists that are in the show, they’re married, and when they first started going out she sent him a mixtape as a gesture of love and they’re still together today, and I think that’s really amazing.
What are the favorite songs that people picked, or most unexpected?
Jessicka: I really love that Marion Peck picked Heart’s “Love Alive.” It’s really great. That was one of the first songs picked and I think it was genius on so many levels, and her piece really goes well with it. Frances Bean actually picked a Jesus & Mary Chain song that I was not familiar with and that’s crazy because I’m a huge fan. I think it’s off the newer album, Munki. Tim Biskup’s choice was awesome—that was Nurse with Wound. Josh Petker did something by the Brian Jonestown Massacre and I don’t think a mixtape would be complete without the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Honestly, and I’m not being diplomatic here—they all picked really great songs.
The idea of the mixtape is naturally entwined with nostalgia—do you find yourselves drawn to that as subject matter?
Jessicka: Absolutely, yeah. I like a lot of big eyed ‘70s art—Ozz Franca, Margaret Keane, and Lee of course, so there’s a lot of nostalgia there. I think there’s a lost art to the mixtape. There’s a lost art to just hearing what people that you like listen to, and I think it’s really important. Of course, being a musician, I think it’s a really great way to get people on iTunes and listening to new things. Songs that aren’t the most popular or pop music or whatever. I think the artists brought a sense of nostalgia to it as well. Some of them picked songs from their childhood, some of them picked songs that they listen to while they read.
What initiated the Dark Dark Science project?
Jessicka: Lindsey and I had an art show planned with a different curator, but the venue pulled out a month before the show.
Lindsey: And we had people coming from Australia, from the UK, from different parts of the country, and we had just worked so hard that we immediately sort of kicked into a plan B, and we looked for another space.
Jessicka: It was actually here—the first Dark Dark Science was at that restaurant. It was completely different. Brian came in and did some renovation. Brian, he does some of the emotional heavy lifting but also he does the real heavy lifting. He does all of the things that I don’t do or choose not to do. He does the painting, the spackling and actually hanging the show. Also he’s really good with artist relations—he was even yelling at Lindsey today [laughter]
How has it been working with LeBasse?
Jessicka: They’re great—they’re my home gallery. So I came to them and said, ‘Do you have a month that’s kind of dead?’ Historically August is not a great month for buyers. With summer a lot of people are out of town. ‘So if I can put something together that’s really special and will bring a lot of people out to the gallery, do you mind if I take over the gallery for a month?’ And they didn’t hesitate. They’re just a really great gallery and I think they’re going to be one of the ones that people are going to hear a lot about.
Lindsey, the last time you did a Dark Dark Science show your band Mindless Self Indulgence was on an indefinite break, but since then you’ve been performing, and even toured in the spring.
Lindsey: It was great—we did a full U.S. tour. We had been gone for like three years, I think. I had gotten pregnant, I had my daughter, and two other people in my band also had children. As a band we’d poured so much for so long that it was really time for us to start living our lives so we can just have some more input so that we could give output. I honestly didn’t know if we would ever come back. I’d always really wanted to make art and I never ever had the time. I would bring a sketchbook on the road and try to make work but it’s actually pretty difficult. So after my daughter was born, I couldn’t just dwell on the band and if it was going to happen again, so I needed to really make something happen for myself actively. Then Jessicka and I were sort of in the same position at the time, so we made it happen. Naturally now that things are cooking, my band is touring again. Actually, it’s great—now that I’ve had a break I really appreciate being on the road and I have a much better perspective. I feel so fulfilled with this stuff, that being uncomfortable, not having privacy, not having my own space and not being =able to visit my family, it’s a pill that’s a lot easier to swallow because I’m so happy in other areas.
Does having a kid affect your work’s content at all?
Lindsey: I don’t think so—having a child has completely altered my work ethic though. Before, being a creative person, you can just be like, ‘Well, I don’t feel like it right now.’ And you can just be up ‘til 4 in the morning. But now I have to be at work by 10 and I have to be home by 6 because my child is waiting for me and I miss her. So being able to dig deep and make creativity happen on command, instead of just sitting around and waiting for lightning to strike, just that discipline—I’m really grateful for it. I don’t have time to fuck around. I also want my daughter to have a mother who works hard and is actively pursuing her dreams.
Jessicka: While I’m just over here, the childless lady with her many cats, thinking about the litter that I have to scoop later. Just a lonely lonely lady.
Lindsey: Literally just looking at pictures of kitty cats on the internet.
Jessicka: That’s right, things are getting real weird over here.
You even have a cat in your sculpture for the show
Jessicka: That’s right. Lindsey and were talking—maybe the cat doesn’t need to be there, it’s really getting weird with my art. I was thinking of wearing like two cat eyes and a cat smile for the show—sell some art! [laughter] I have a really great husband who would totally not appreciate anything I just said. He’s like, ‘Follow your dreams, I support you’ and you talk about your cats. Wow.
LA MIXTAPE PRESENTED BY DARK DARK SCIENCE OPENS SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, AT LEBASSE PROJECTS CHINATOWN 932 CHUNG KING RD., 7 PM, AND FEATURES WORK BY AARON SMITH, AMANDA MARIE, CAMILLE ROSE GARCIA, CHRISTINE WU, ELIZABETH MCGRATH & MORGAN SLADE, FAIRUZA BALK, FRANCES BEAN COBAIN, GARY BASEMAN, JEREMY GOFF, JESSICKA ADDAMS, JOSHUA PETKER, KRK RYDEN, KRIS KNIGHT, LINDSEY WAY, LIZ HUSTON, MANNY CASTRO, MARION PECK, MARK RYDEN, MATTHEW BONE, MELISSA HASLAM, RODOLFO LOAIZA, TARA MCPHERSON, TIM BISKUP. VISIT DARKDARKSCIENCE.COM