Monday, September 6, 2010

Sloup #4: May 2010

Your name or the title of your organization: Pancake Productions (Robert Severson, Pancake Master/Proprietor)

What you will do with your Sloup Grant: Continue recording, producing, releasing, and distributing fine artistic material in a wide range of media and disciplines.

A little about yourself and what led you to this project: Existing in the filmmaking/music/performance/art sphere within Saint Louis for over 10 years, I’ve seen labels and collectives and organizations come and go. Some of them don’t even bother to keep so much as a website alive for posterity/archival purposes, which is sad and frustrating, since it’s stuff I care about, and want to see last in some form or another, or at least have a way to remember/remind. I’ve been sort of the opposite way—I’ve had this website, and this “production company” for the longest time, but the slow trickle of projects has not been enough to sustain Pancake Productions as a viable name or a reputable entity. So, I’m taking matters into my own hands with little more than whatever money (however meager, or otherwise) and experience (however plentiful, or otherwise) I’ve been able to accrue in my time creating and collaborating, and making the promise that whatever else may happen, Pancake Productions is here (and has been for nigh upon a decade) to stay. Primarily a film production company in its formative stages, recently the focus has been on (recording and) releasing recorded music for the masses through whatever variety of avenues we deem possible and appropriate (CD, vinyl, internet, other, or some combination thereof). However, as stated, no project is too small, or too big, or too this, or too that. We’re willing to consider just about anything. We want to make great things happen. For you, for us, for St. Louis, for everyone.

Already well within the pipeline for 2010 (and beyond?) are musical album releases from defunct sweet acousticsters The Shitty Friends, seven-years-extinct-monster-girl-popmeisters The Fantasy Four, prolific satirical hip-hop-a-thon-ers King Kong Magnetics, and rock-and-lollers Popular Mechanics. Plus several more that are only in the very infantile stages of discussion, to the point that I’m reluctant to mention them here, no matter how excited I might be about them. I’m perfectly happy to continue patronizing and publicizing local arts using frequent dips into the shallow pool of my laughable savings account, but every little bit helps, of course, SLOUPsters.

Most importantly, if you are an enthusiastic artist of any kind and are interested in releasing something, anything, via the Pancake Productions imprint, to the general public, and consider yourself a match for any or all of what you’ve read here today, we want to talk to you post-haste, whether you vote for us tonight or not.

A previous project of yours, and some ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal): If it can, then it will! I was on the popular TV quiz show Jeopardy! one time (mid-November 2009). It was a failure because I lost—ended the show with zero bucks on the board, and another contestant and I went into Final Jeopardy! each with less than half of what the reigning champion had (meaning it was a shutout against us, for him). DANG! Well, I’ve offered my apologies to pretty much everyone I talk to about it: “Sorry I couldn’t bring home the win.” HOWEVER in another way, that is not really why I went (nice though it would have been), or why I tried out, or even why I crammed (yes, I actually tried to do some last-minute studying for Jeopardy!, and yes, that is pretty much impossible/worthless). Really I was just interested in having a great time, doing the best I could, and having an appearance on national TV that could last a lifetime, both in the oral tradition of the whole thing, and of course on YouTube (where you can see it for yourself, split into two separate parts, if you plug “Severson” and “Jeopardy” into a YouTube search). Of course, many/most people that have a clue know that winning wasn’t the most important thing, especially for me. It was all about the (long) process, the experience, the general accomplishment of the thing. Priority number one was to have fun with it, and in that regard, success on a monumental scale, success of an unfathomable degree, success times a billion, was achieved. Even if I didn’t win any real money or get to appear on the show a second time, I know I did great, and had real people, friends and strangers alike, pulling for me. Not necessarily to win, just to do it right, just to make people proud. Really, my Jeopardy! experience was a sort of microcosm for my outlook on most everything from Pancake Productions to softball games to live performances to living life and more: have fun, try your hardest, and do something of which you can be, and stay, proud.

Your power animal and/or icon: A roll of 5 in the game of Yahtzee; Lots of maple syrup.


Your name or the title of your organization:
Eric Ryszkiewicz | proprietor of “Commerce Information Entertainment”

What you will do with your Sloup Grant:
I will use a sloup grant to fund 50 copies of an EP titled “daydream lullaby: daydream vacation”. This will consist of an albums’ worth of instrumental music that is an extension of another work in progress, which also falls under the “daydream lullaby” moniker. Funding will primarily go towards CDR duplication and the production of handmade packaging. This will include a custom digipak with color photography, and letterpress and/or screen printing for the text. Unlike other recent recordings, the music on this release can be performed by a single player, and there will be some live performances to promote it. The music consists of many layers of intricate, sparse guitar work, and may appeal to fans of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and other modern composers. If awarded this months’ grant, sloup will be recognized as a contributor in the liner notes.

A little about yourself and what led you to this project:
I don’t have time for a band, and am far more interested in creating music as art than live entertainment. I’m doing a series of related music and media projects as “commerce information entertainment” with a focus on the creation of quality goods, services, and experiences. After spending several years recording exclusively heavy music, I was interested in writing and recording some lighter material that you might put on if you just felt like chilling out for a while.

A previous project of yours, and some ways it both succeeded and failed:
"Suicide Revolutionary Jazz Band" (SRJB) was initially conceived as a hardcore punk band that existed solely for the purpose of playing a single concert – the intent being that it was an experience that could only be had once. Those in attendance would simultaneously catch a band's first and last show. An EP of the material would be given away in boutique packaging featuring photography by local artists and friends.

This project succeeded in that after producing and distributing 125 copies of the SRJB EP “we could be sirens”, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on it.

Unfortunately, this project failed to meet the original intent of a live show. After writing and recording the material, I realized how hard it would be to recruit other musicians to rehearse for several months with the intent of playing a single performance. To fully realize the material as written, a live band would require at least two percussionists, four guitarists, bass guitar, and a dedicated vocalist.

Your power animal and/or icon:
My power animal is a muppet. I have sweet facial hair, a tiny neck, and a wobbly head.


Your name or the title of your organization: CAMP Bike Shop

What you will do with your Sloup Grant: The CAMP (Community, Arts, and Movement Project) Bike Shop is a place where neighborhood kids (and grown-ups!) can come get their bikes fixed, earn a bike, and learn how to work on bikes. Sloup funds will be used to restock the bike shop for the coming summer with basic tools and supplies such as: bike tubes, patch kits, brake pads, spokes, wrenches, grease and chain lube, and if funds allow, a wheel-truing stand.

A little about yourself and what led you to this project: I moved to St. Louis in February and immediately found, fell in love with, and moved in at CAMP. I love the outreach the collective offers to the neighborhood, and it feels like I found CAMP at a time when it is "growing up." The Bike Shop is in 3 garages in the backyard of CAMP. I have moved and traveled a lot and have loved many bike projects in other cities: Yellow Bike Project in Austin, The Bike Church in Philly, Plan B in New Orleans, and the Santa Fe Bike Project. All have supported me in various ways, and I love not only the technical support, but also the community engagement and camaraderie they offer. I really want to see such a project be successful in my new neighborhood in St. Louis, and we've already got the space, the old bikes to work with, and the reputation in the neighborhood as a place for kids to come for bike help.

A previous project of yours, and some ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal): I spent 2 years in Thailand helping start and run a permaculture and natural building education center north of Chiang Mai. One thing I really learned there was that in the day-to-day hard work of running the place, it could seem like we were making no headway--maybe we would spend a whole day working on (and not solving!) a water crisis in the dry season, but when we stood back and looked at all we'd accomplished since we started, it was astounding--I designed and built my own house, we hosted tons of workshops and courses, put in huge gardens, food forest, ponds, firebreaks, and 8 buildings. The big picture is attained by the the little step-by-step tasks.

Your power animal and/or icon: What has more power than an elephant? Also, self-control, longevity, group-bonding, and memory. In Hinduism, Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, is the remover of obstacles.


name of organization:
The May Day Orchestra

what we will do:
The May Day Orchestra is recording a new musical project which we would like to release as a vinyl LP as well as a CD. "Songs For Ota Benga" is the working title.

about us:
The May Day Orchestra consists of members of various local bands including The Union Electric, Tenement Ruth, The Rats & People, Theodore and Grace Basement. Tim Rakel, the songwriter in the group, has composed "folk operas" to do more than just play songs but tell some stories and history as well. The Ota Benga project has local connections to Saint Louis and has relevent ties to the current war in Congo.

a previous project:
The group's first project "May Day, or Songs For Lucy Parsons" was in some part successful in that we released a vinyl-only record and got it out to a small audience. Its failing was a lack of distribution which could be improved upon this time with CD and vinyl options and a recent offer of help with distribution.

Ota Benga, pygmy man kept at the Saint Louis World's Fair in 1904.

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