THE STORY OF MY LIFE
After finishing film school Alex Sharp Cole took his old, beat-up 1976 Datsun coupe across America from the northern border of Canada to Mexico, from East coast to West, camping sometimes, living in hostels, driving all night listening to The Velvet Underground and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”.. What was he searching for? The ideal place for him to be - at this particular moment in history.
In the cramped, back seat was a Triton keyboard, which he had worked the previous year as a school bus driver and a security guard to save up for.
The determination that drove him was to find something intangible -- a synchronistic instance of space and time that would be the perfect fit for what he felt he could offer the world.
He wondered if maybe a cultural movement — even a shift away from the way things were going for the human race, might somehow be triggered by focused intention — if there might somehow be a connection, a link, so to speak, between the outside world - the observable world - and our personal, subjective, experience... maybe explaining the ideas that seemed to come to people out of nowhere sometimes.
He was aware that from a materialist scientific viewpoint it might considered total speculation. But then again, he thought... what’s the harm in trying?
So he ambled up in his dusty, completely rusted car, onto the first empty beach in Mexico he could find. (It helped it was February).
He asked a guy he met through another guy about his wooden shack on a beach, which he rented for 30 US dollars a month (managing, despite seeing water below him between the floorboards at high tide, to lay down the instrumental tracks that would soon be on his first album, "Submadreamgun") he drove back North with his keyboard, settling on Austin, Texas. In Austin, he rented a room in a shared flat with University of Texas students and that is where he recorded his vocals.
It was in Austin he finished his first underground album -- the experimental-electronica / electro-acoustic work, "Submadreamgun.”
He created Submadreamgun as a sound art installation that was debut in 2003 at a gallery (on “Cole Avenue” interestingly) and this is where he met artist Will Epps, then student at the San Francisco Institute of the Arts, and began to formulate his “MUSIC IS ART” movement — a quest to contextualize music, especially Rock n’ Roll but really all music, in a way that would allow it to be appreciated in the same way paintings and performance art are appreciated in art galleries.
CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
On his journey to find a place and a context that would be "right" for his music, Alex met his first Swedish friends at the Venice Beach Youth Hostel in Los Angeles and later Toronto, Canada where he lived for nine months before coming back to Boulder, Colorado to start a band called The Big Unknown.
This was an ongoing search that would continue in the life of Alex Sharp Cole that was also a quest for an ideal place and context for himself as a “character” in his music and on the stage of life itself.
In other words, life is the outermost context — the way you live needs to be part of your art. The quest would take him to Sweden.
COMING TO SWEDEN
After scouting other countries in Europe while hitchhiking and shooting film for an intended documentary film with his friend and filmmaker, Jeff Schomay from school, the search eventually took him to Sweden.
Moving there in 2004 to go to the Malmo Art Academy (malmö konsthögskolan) it was here that Alex's music began to develop further as performance art, along with video art / filmmaking which was his original background. For example he created the interior of his studio at the school as an artistic manifestation of the song “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles, one of his favourite songs — and this was the room he recorded his next album and wrote the song “CityBoy."
His “life as art” model was coming to fruition.
Long nights of work in the dark Swedish winter resulted in: "Cityboy: VideoLoveGunsForever!” -- inspired in part by the breakup of his Swedish band “Tommy Vision.” During this time at the art school he was filmmaking and composed the music for his experimental narrative film “Vera’s Vision” which was his thesis film at Malmö konsthögskola.
An entirely different genre than Submadreamgun -- "CityBoy: VideoLoveGunsForever!" sounds more like a rock band, playing alternative indie-rock or garage style music. In part a homage to his teenage years and the music he had grown up on, bands like Weezer, Nirvana, The Jesus and Mary Chain… music where “personality” of singers comes across through the sound in a way that feels like a celebration of humanity, music that feels authentic and alive.
BACK IN THE USA
When the Crash of 2008 happened Alex Sharp Cole ran out of funds and had to go back to Colorado after being denied his thesis at Malmö Konsthögskola, where headmaster Gertrud Sandqvist claimed that his film was “not art.” (Apparently she is the authority on this.)
Several of his classmates to their credit and in a way that was very touching to him organised an anonymous petition which many of them signed in Alex’s support… despite these noble students' efforts his thesis at Malmö was never awarded, though he had spent three years at the school in the masters program working almost every day.
In this perfect storm of circumstance — upon his return home, discovering the economic crash in the U.S.A. was all too real and tangible.. he saw signs of unemployment everywhere and even very educated and able people were unable to get work. "It was on a whole different level from anything I’d ever seen or experienced."
The political and social realities of economic inequality were becoming a strong influence on him and his music. He found a job in a music store and worked in the nights recording more music and composing ideas on his parent’s piano.
THE CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF THE ARTS
With a dawning sense of hope that a change was in the cards, Alex took the drive from Colorado to California. He lived in Los Angeles for a year, attending a sound design for theatre program at CALARTS and working with the community.
During this time he wrote his own plays and held public performances of performance art that entered on the “Music Is Art” Movement.
Some of his art pieces here made use of the very skilled actors at the school. They also took theatre out of its normal context and into places which made the audience unsure if something was real or staged.
Toward the end of the school term, Alex Sharp Cole taught a class to university students that was called “How To Start an Artistic Revolution in Your Home Town: the Conscious Creation of Context.”
It was one year later, in 2011, that he got his chance to move back to Sweden and to continue his focus on art and music...
(to be continued…)
EVERY CREATIVE REVOLUTION STARTS WITH THE IDEA.
-- > LETS MAKE IT HAPPEN