As part of the Zine and indie Comic Symposium on 31 August – 1 September, The Bedroom Philosopher will be coming to The Edge to present his only Brisbane show, as well as popping up as a guest panellist on Saturday as part of the ZICS program. As a warm-up, he had a chat to the ZICs crew about creating and becoming a sharehousehold name.
What do you create/do and why?
I write songs that have funny, thought provoking lyrics and cracking melodies, having grown up on a diet of Beatles, Beck and Bonzo Dog Band. I also write hard hitting gonzo-memoirs about my ridiculous sojourns up and down Australia’s eastern seaboard. I do this because I have to. It’s the only thing I’m really good at and the only thing that makes me truly happy. It also makes me truly broke and cynical but it’s a rich tapestry, y’know?
How and where do you like to work and create?
I get a lot of writing done at my desk, in my dingy apartment in Thornbury. I’ve been known to pull out the guitar and sit in front of the laptop and piece together a song. Noodle noodle. Tap Tap. Write Write. Rehearse rehearse. Record Record. That sort of thing. I also make a lot of notes on my iphone app while on public transport. There are 700 at the moment. I find travelling stimulates the brain and fires up a different range of missiles from the lotto barrel of infinite dreams.
Why are you involved with ZICS and what do you hope to get out of ZICS?
My friend Vanessa Berry told me it was cool, so that was good enough for me. I have a lot of respect for the Zine community. I wanted to get in on that cool scene but the ladies at Sticky looked at me funny and went all quiet when I told them I had an e-zine. An EZINE! Trust some former bogan from Burnie to try that on. Anyway, the more I struggle and battle to forge a semi-career here and solidify my position as a sharehousehold name – the more affection I have for those toiling in near-obscurity. The comedy industry is commercially focussed and it’s all about getting on TV and stamping out the competition (the music scene is equally as competitive, in its own way) – but with small scenes like zines and comics, as my friend David Blumenstein says “there’s no industry to be competitive about.” Artists write zines and make 100 copies and give them out and they do this because they want to share and they want to give and they hope it might make a stranger sigh in a beautiful way and they might dream a little lighter at night. This is a wonderful thing – and it brings creativity back to its roots and gives it an integrity and an honesty that you lose when you’re counting up your Facebook fans and swearing into your breakfast.
What or who inspires you?
I’ve been writing a book about being an artist in Australia for the last year, so I’ve read a lot of interviews and spoken to a lot of artists. I get excited when I hear people say things like “do it no matter what” and “I might end up broke and dead and unknown but….what else are you going to do?” And people like Marina Abramovic and the documentary ‘The Artist Is Present.’ It reminds me that it’s okay to take your craft really seriously and to be prepared to die for it in a way – or if not physically die, then sacrifice things like financial stability and emotional comfort and, y’know – dignity! I’m 33 and I’m still getting Centrelink and perhaps on certain days I feel a sense of shame about that – but after hearing another artist talk about the importance of KEEPING GOING, I think ‘yeah f*** it, I’m doing it for my art, man – I’m living on the edge and I’m gripping onto the one thing that makes sense in my life.’
This is counter to the ideals we are brought up on in Australia like ‘never try’ and ‘low aspirations rock’ and ‘work a s*** job cos that’s what everyone else does.’ So for the past year I’ve been filling my artistic pot (which was pretty empty) with lots of good, wholesome sentiments and reminding myself of the eloquence of action and NOT GIVING UP no matter how overloaded the credit cards get, or how many 11pm drunks at that Hobart pub are haunting me in my dreams. I think most artists in Australia are just searching for respect – either from themselves or those around them – and it’s f***ing hard getting it from either. I’ve realised how important it is to respect myself and…look, I’ll say it….love myself. Being able to inspire yourself is a good thing. All right vegemite.
If your life was a zine or a comic what would it be called?
The surprisingly okay sexual adventures of a sensitive new start guy.
Catch The Bedroom Philosopher at the Friday night launch of the Zine and Indy Comic Symposium (30 Aug 6-11pm). Tickets $15 pre $20 at the door if remaining.