Johnstown-based artist Brandon Locher commands a certain kind of organized chaos. He’s done this over a vast body of visual and musical work since 2006—all of which compile within the Locher co-founded creative collective My Idea of Fun. The two projects spotlighted today are his most current, and perhaps together both his most indirectly complimentary and contrasting. The Meets finds Brandon at the helm of a 20-person ensemble, directing and collaging an array of orchestral instruments and field recordings. Three years of sound went into It Happens Outside, a forthcoming LP. Mazes to the Motherlode finds Brandon deeply isolated, putting ink to paper, creating grayscale labyrinths of hyper-detail. Below, we get him going on the topic of each.
While examining your series, Mazes to the Motherlode, I felt as though I was being pulled inward then pushed outward—adrift in an alternating current. Starry nights met animal cell biology… what ultimately came to mind was the idea of macrocosm and microcosm. Wiki’s summation is valid here: “macrocosm and microcosm is an ancient Greek Neo-Platonic schema of seeing the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale (microcosm or sub-sub-atomic or even metaphysical-level). In the system the midpoint is Man, who summarizes the cosmos.” I’ve attempted to navigate your mazes to no avail; patterns emerge only to disintegrate or meet self-containing walls only to turn back on themselves. This it seems could be a fitting epitome of life, of existence on many levels of being—star systems to molecules.
After that lengthy intro, my question is simply this: will we ever find our way to the Motherlode?
If you try to speak of the Motherlode, you can’t say what it is, because it won’t fit into words or concepts. This is why we get so frustrated with enlightenment. We can’t put our finger on it! This is human life. Weeds will flourish, though we hate them and wish them gone; flowers will die, though we love them and long for them to remain. It’s imperative to recognize that our dissatisfaction originates within us. It arises out of our own blindness to what our situation actually is, out of our wanting reality to be something other than what it is. Our journey must be to awaken here and now, to awaken to here and now. To be fully alive, we must be fully present. Hopefully embedded within these illustrations lies a personal topographic blueprint for the vision and self creation of even smaller moons, larger galaxies, and realized worlds. I became very meditative while making these 30 pieces. My self-focused mantra was making this creative process completely effortless. I would draw for like 10 hours straight, creating freely without having any strange or unproductive thoughts. Discipline is the most important ingredient. I would end up drawing on these schedules, working over 40 or 50 hours a week. Clearly, some days are easier than others, but I am always working and drawing myself into a solution, only to reverse it back into another hand rendered question. I don’t think I will ever find the Motherlode because I believe it’s more than just one thing. It’s about here and now. About waking up to this moment, seeing this for what it is. This awakening is available to all of us, at every moment.
How does your music feed into your art and vice versa? Is there any common thread that runs between these two projects?
Generally I focus my work and concentration on only one artistic medium at a time. I find this most effective because my overall concentration and perception is important to maintain within my creative process and workflow. If I have been recording music for an extended period of time and end up with a few new tracks, I’ll switch my creative gears completely for a few weeks and only focus on my visual art and then vice versa. With both Mazes to the Motherlode and It Happens Outside the final presentation and pieces only become this small percentage of my overall heady vision for each project. I want to always keep developing, remixing, and exploring my own sense of expression using visual and sonic space. I want to record orchestras and brass bands playing outdoors in parks with those bandstands that project echo. I want to record an ensemble of drummers playing alongside a highway with multiple sets of microphones traveling away from the drums in consistent intervals deep into a scenic valley. After recently completing 30 pieces for the Mazes series I plan on focusing my attention on making a follow-up release for The Meets project. While I work on music I slowly develop new concepts for visual pieces and vice versa. Once I have recorded some new music I’m sure I’ll take a break and start drawing more Mazes pieces. I found that taking time away from one medium to another allows myself to reproach the work with a clean perspective and conscious. Side A of It Happens Outside is an entire progression of thought that was created from months of meticulous collage and manipulation. I drew Mazes to the Motherlode I-XXX in sequence to create a natural pacing and visual rhythm. I feel like all of my work is fascinated in creating a fluid movement, while using different materials, to discover how they organically relate to time and space.
The opening reception for Mazes to the Motherlode, which includes a live performance by Brandon, takes place September 28th at Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center in Johnston, Pennsylvania. Vinyl units of It Happens Outside, due out October 1st, can be pre-ordered here.