March 5, 2016 3:14 pm

Cousin George

Artists Profile

It took almost 25 years to get the voices out of my head. All I had to do was cut it off.

The beheading was Sean Metelerkamp’s idea (the South African director who filmed Die Antwoord’s now famous “Zef Side” video) – his macabre vision to have my head served on a platter to my lover for the song “Lonely Without You.” I blinked for a second, but the process of marrying my vision and his to create something new and unexpected was worth it. It turns out decapitation is pretty liberating.

Kurt Vonnegut helped me see that. We used to chat on the way home from my old job, me and the great rebel novelist of the 20th century. One afternoon, I told him I’d been composing and singing to myself for decades, but that it’s always been my little secret with the world. But he insisted that it was not only tragic, but morally wrong to not pursue my dreams. He believed it wholeheartedly, and he made me believe.

Kurt passed not long after, and I started learning how to make music my own way. I’m not a guitarist; I don’t play piano. I have zero musical training. But the songs — the voices — have always been in my head, and I’ve never stopped writing. The old ways never worked for me, but that doesn’t matter anymore; we don’t have to be walled in by convention.

I’m a collector. As a rule, we’re not supposed to make art. Worse, I’m a Wall Street refugee, and we’re definitely not supposed to make art. But then, I wasn’t supposed to grow up listening to DEVO and Laurie Anderson either. You start in a blue collar factory town in Connecticut and it’s a big deal if you move to the next village over, forget about to New York City. The point is: the “supposed to’s” are bullshit. What you do is what really f*cking matters anyway.

Take music videos. They bore me (that’s what convention does to you — it makes you boring). So I’m going to do something different. “Coming Out” is about more than just the album, or just an album title. It’s about shedding your comfortable skin and becoming what you’re really meant to be. New York is home to the most exciting artists in the world and they’re coming out with me to explore a new, boundary-crossing medium of music, art and storytelling. Neither I nor Richard Dupont had ever shot a film before, yet we made a video from my song “One Hit Wonder” together, culminating in a beautiful sculpture made from one hit wonders. I’ve also had the intense pleasure of tapping into the massive talents Lius Gispert, Monica Cook, Kalup Linzy, Nate Lowman and several other renegade creative types. When you strike out and leave the familiar behind, real magic happens.

In the last twenty years I’ve lived and worked in over 40 countries, becoming friends with exceptional artists, filmmakers, talented musicians and music-lovers alike – and I’ve been spiritually blown away by how much we all (all people) have in common. Art has that ineffable power to break down the barriers between us, to make us part of this big, weird, essential family. It’s time to stop being secret and silent, and for the voices to be heard.

Let’s all come out … and break out together. Get it on.

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