On April 18th Anthology Film Archives premiered Trophy Tape in NYC via Issue Project Room. Old Theme was shown as a part of the series with two of my other short films: “Very Beautiful Woman” (2011) and “When I Leave This Place” (2014 with Tao Lin).

I first met the critically acclaimed sound artist Jason Lescalleet at a restaurant in midtown almost two years ago. His desire to create with so much openness for creativity in collaboration instantly won me over. I left that lunch with Songs About Nothing and a new project. After choosing a track and talking over my ideas with stylist and designer Jenni Hensler, we made a video with James J. Williams III in the then unfinished Envoy Enterprises Gallery. A year later Old Theme was added to a collection of videos made by other artists for the same album. Soon the collection of videos, now titled Trophy Tape, was on a world tour of galleries, universities and theaters.

The screening at the Film Archives last week sold out quickly, and though Jason was busy doing radio interviews, sound tests and trying to get as many people into the show as possible, I managed to do a quick Q&A with him about Trophy Tape:

Ellen Frances: How many years in the making was Trophy Tape?

JL: Trophy Tape actually began with your video. My friend Aaron Dilloway had previously created a video for the first track of the SONGS ABOUT NOTHING album, back in August of 2012, but there wasn’t a definite plan to create “Trophy Tape” until you and I talked about working together. I think we started talking about our collaboration in October of 2012.

EF: Wow, it was that long ago! I just remember at first I was a bit nervous because we had only talked on the internet. It’s kind of funny how one meeting can result in such an amazing project!

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Ellen Frances in “Old Theme” costume by Jenni Hensler (2012)

EF: Did you have a history of collaborating with any of the other video artists, or were they all new introductions like I was?

JL: In some cases, Trophy Tapes marked the beginning of a relationship. In other cases, I was already friends with the artist. Ultimately, though, there are only two artists that had previously shared collaborations with me. I’d performed and recorded with Aaron Dilloway several times, and Todd Deal is my brother. Todd and I have been collaborating on art projects since we were small children

EF: Oh that’s great – I didn’t know that. That’s pretty amazing actually. Do you ever use any of your work from your childhood and sort of re purpose it?

JL: Yes, a few of our old tape recordings have ended up on a CD or two here and there. I wish we saved more of our art. We worked on a lot of interesting projects.

JL: How long have you been working with Jenni Hensler? How did you first meet?

EF: I saw some of the styling and design work Jenni had done via the internet about 4 years ago. I contacted her and hired her for a few music videos I was doing for major labels. We got along very well. She works in a way that is similar to me, she really feels things and can come up with great ideas in the moment. For “Old Theme” we ended up working together after having a conversation regarding medical issues we both have with our hearts which impact our behaviors. That conversation played a roll in using footage of my heart along with red silk for “Old Theme”.

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Ellen Frances, Jenni Hensler at Anthology Film Archives

JL: Since you were one of the first artists asked to be involved with the project, you had the option of selecting pretty much any track that you wanted. What brought you to Old Theme?

EF: With most of my projects I have a tendency to work on intuition. I enjoy the feeling of the creativity being alive in that moment. With your music it was something similar, I scanned the tracks and that one stuck out for me instantly. I eventually went back and listened more in-depth to everything, but still went with my initial reaction. I loved the darkness of “Old Theme” and that it had a sort of hypnotic quality to it.

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“Trophy Tape” NY premiere at Anthology Film Archives

EF: You have been showing Trophy Tape all over the world. How did the reception differ?

JL: I can honestly say that I’ve received very positive feedback from every one of the screenings. I guess the strongest positive reception came from Ljubljana, Slovenia, where they interviewed me for their national news channel. I’ve also appreciated the response I’ve received from the Universities that I’ve visited. When screening at a school, we usually include a Q&A session after the screening and we’ve had some great discussions.

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Jason Lescalleet addressing the crowd (photo: C.Spencer Yeh)

EF: Anthology, as a filmmaker, is a really important venue to me because of its amazing history — was there anything special for you about the NY show?

JL: The New York show was special to me because it’s the city that included the most collaborating artists, and so I was able to create a nice program for the event that included examples of work from the New York collaborators like yourself, C. Spencer Yeh and Adel Souto.

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Anthology Film Archives lobby for “Trophy Tape” (photo: Adel Souto)


EF: I was kind of amazed at how many people were there and that it sold out so quickly. Seeing my work in the theater was exciting for me. Most of my work comes out online, so it was a treat to watch people watching it.

JL: It was a lot of fun to show these films with so many friends in the audience, and in a theater that has so much significance to New York’s world of art and film. — It’s clear that this project’s success is largely due to the mutual admiration shared by the collaborators and me.

 

Jason Lescalleet is one of America’s most dedicated sound artists. Based in Maine, he has toured the world while developing a compelling discography on notable labels such as Kye, RRR, Erstwhile, Chondritic Sound, NNA, and most recently via his own Glistening Examples imprint.

Ellen Frances is an artist and director based in New York City. She is the founder of ORB Pictures. Her work in music, fashion and art has been featured on MTV, at NY Fashion Week and in various online publications from Interview Magazine to Huffington Post.

Jenni Hensler is a costume designer and stylist based in New York City. Her work has been featured in National Advertisements, Fashion Editorials, Music Videos, TV, and Film. Her costumes have been showcased at the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

 

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