By Ana Lola Roman
Last week we lost stylist/muse/fashion writer futurist extraordinaire, Anna Piaggi. Every generation loses someone pivotal that came before them; a film star, a thought leader, a president, a rock star, those denizens who made it before you and everyone else. They are not to be feared, but they are to be watched…closely. While alive and amongst the living it’s the craziest, most outrageous, vulnerable, and volatile artists that somehow get their points across. Points that burst the bubble, points that make people uncomfortable, and points that break silence. That’s what Bushwick is to me. Crazy, vulnerable, volatile and aching to burst. This neighborhood makes no one comfortable, and that’s the beauty of it.
Since moving to Bushwick in August of 2011, it has taken me awhile to get acclimated to the particular brand of creativity and chaos in the neighborhood. Fast and cosmically, I was thrust into a lost boy/girl gang of manic, hardworking, KIND, collaborative, and ambitious individuals that have inspired me to write about them. They have inspired me to break my own boundaries and veer away from my regular paths of creativity. As a singer, songwriter, beat-maker, and electronic musician, it’s too easy to always surround myself with other musicians. I risk over-specialization if that happens. It’s much healthier for me to challenge myself in writing, to surround myself with stylists, visual artists, poets, photographers, and Martians. These individuals are my muses, my inspirations, future friends, and co-conspirators. They orbit around me and make it possible for me to create sounds, atmospheres, and vocalize what the world is feeling and seeing through music. Oh, and I just simply want the world to know about them too.
The first burst of fruit flavor that caught my attention is Ariana Paoletti. Since arriving in NYC late last year, there’s really no stopping her. There’s more than enough flavor to go around when it comes to her talents. She’s a veteran of the Boston Electronic/Techno/Dance music scene and still operates under the name DJ VOLVOX. When she’s not mixing, spinning, and throwing her particular flavor of parties she busies herself with her hands—that is styling, sculpting, jewelry-making, altering, and creating the future. Paoletti’s state of mind is pure 2012 with a dash of Salvador Dali philosophy. One day while she was styling me for our first ever photo shoot, she quipped, “You know, it’s 2012. It’s supposed to be the future. I don’t understand why every bar in Williamsburg is designed like it’s supposed to look like the goddamn 1800’s. What’s going on here?!?” Classic.
What brought you to Bushwick?
After throwing events and DJing as well as selling vintage clothing independently for several years in Boston, I hit the ceiling of what was possible career-wise in those fields. I moved to New York to go further and I’m really glad I did!
Are you going to Mars?
I have always been living on another planet.
What inspires your RIGHT NOW?
Recently I visited an amazing leather supply store on W 35th street. I nearly died! So many amazing textures and prints. It really made we want to launch a line of leather bags! I find materials inspire my pieces. I collect all sorts of fabrics, findings, crystals and random bits then sit with them all around me and start to put things together.
Who influences your work the most?
Perhaps my greatest life influence is Salvador Dali, he is always reminding me to keep it classy, and keep it weird. In the realm of fashion right now I have been looking closely at the work of Rudi Gernreich from the 1960’s. I love how he has a background in movement and dance, and also his clan of collaborators; his model/muse Peggy Moffit, their photographer/Peggy’s husband William Claxton and the iconic hair cut by Vidal Sassoon himself which defined Peggy’s mod look. I enjoy designers who operate in a family-like creative atmosphere. The love of all the collaborators really shines through I think!
You do so much. Jewelry design, buying, styling, DJing. What is your creative process like? For me, photography and visual elements lead me to music. Do you find that your DJ work leads you to styling or vice-versa? What gets you there?
I’d definitely say my aesthetic overall is very much influenced by particular threads of electronic music history, though I also collect images like a crazy person-photos from fashion history as well as industrial design, science and nature. When I’m actually working on making something I always use music to put me into another realm, whether it expansive mesmerizing Techno or a freaky Acid track.
What do you take for granted now that you are living in Bushwick, NYC that you didn’t have in Boston?
How many awesome warehouse parties are going on all the time. In Boston we are psyched to maintain ONE raw underground space to have events in, and the cops are always coming in and shutting things down and sending everyone home. It just ends up stifling creative development within the underground.
What are some of the hardships you face now that you are living in Bushwick?
Coming from a place as lush and verdant as Boston, the lack of real grass, trees and plants around is much harder on me than I expected. Then there’s the trash everywhere, festering in the sun, it’s disgusting! Also dealing with anything municipal in New York is just insane. In Massachusetts I had great healthcare for free. In New York, getting any sort of medical attention is a nightmare and always leaves me feeling rather helpless.
I don’t consider you a stylist. I consider you a multi-dimensional artist turn of the century future-sculptor. Do you think that would be a correct assessment?
Sure. Fashion styling is actually a pretty recent development for me, kind of the natural result of having a large collection of clothes and meeting performers who are interested in my visual ideas. I always think of my work as sculpture, whether I’m sculpting a story around a person using clothes and jewelry or sculpting emotions by putting bodies in an environment with lights and music.
5 Go To Bands you listen to while working:
Lately, the new Light Asylum album has been on constant rotation and Zola Jesus as well. I listen to a lot of classic albums, Frequencies by LFO is one of my favorites, as are Wireless Internet by Arpanet and Geography by Front 242.
Flapper or Beatnik? 60’s Mod Space Girl or 80’s Trash/Gutter/Japanese Punk?
All these characters a similar in a way, each representing the counterculture of their respective eras. I love them all equally! I think about these groups as reoccurring symptoms of a deeper attitude within human consciousness.