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It’s been a little over two years since Abby stopped by Disco Droppings for a conversation. I’m very grateful she has returned! I observe so many discussions on subjects like the ones below, and it can be a trip to say the least. When I think about a contribution I can make, a big part is building a space for these ideas and energies to be demonstrated. Where distinct individuals can share, and readers can take it in at their own pace, in a site that isn’t difficult to look at. I aim to keep things clean and minimal. So, in we go with this hard-hitting investigative journalist: Founder of Media Roots, Former host of Breaking The Set, Board of Directors for Project Censored, Founder of The Empire Files and quite the artist as well. I soundtracked this feature to The Prodigy album, The Fat of the Land (very fitting I’d say)..

DD Who and/or what moved you the most this past year of 2015, and what message did they bring?

AM My partner Mike, he made me follow my heart across the country. It took a leap to adventure to NYC with me to partner in our show The Empire Files. His support and intelligence has pushed my vision to a whole other level.

DD I want to go back to a past interview you did a few years ago that could use another look. I especially love your conversation with Alex & Allyson Grey, who are said to be “the most prolific psychedelic artists in the world..” There are discussions of “inner sight” and “turning within”. How does this translate to the lens through which you see the world?

AM They are truly beautiful people. I think the most important human component is empathy. Instead of speaking about the horrors of the world in the abstract, we need to start humanizing others and putting ourselves in their shoes. Whenever I report an issue, I try to report it from the peoples perspective, through the lens of the oppressed and suffering.

DD What internal human imbalances contribute most to the external dysfunctions you witness and report on, in your eyes?

AM I don’t know about internal imbalances so much as external ones that force internal strife. We are living in an economic system that institutionalizes inequality and barbarism. Poverty is deepening at an increasingly rapid rate. The extreme consequences of living under the shadow of militaristic imperialism are playing out all around us, driving desperate people to commit crime, violence and terrorism. The propaganda that maintains US Empire breeds division, hatred and discrimination. Unless people can work together to challenge the power structure in the heart of this country, I fear the dysfunction of the system will lead to its violent collapse.

DD I feel this problem with unification. What’s holding us back from coming together? What veils need to be lifted?

AM Behind the veil is the common humanity that unites us all. From nationalism to “otherism”, myths are the glue that hold society subservient. These myths also work to justify untold unjust and criminal policies. I think most division in America is bred from a manufactured fear of what we don’t know or understand. The propaganda behind the endless ‘War on Terror’ is more convoluted and effective now. Many people I related to ten years ago have since followed an extreme Islamophobic trajectory. It’s scary. In times of strife, people’s fears will take hold and fascists will rise–it’s up to those of us that are awake to support and build each other up.

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DD How is life with Telesur, the host of your new show Empire Files? And how would you describe the energy of this show vs. Breaking The Set?

AM Every episode of Breaking the Set was like a punch in the gut of hard truth. For three years I was like a steam engine, with a team of only two people to churn out a daily show. The energy output was insane, and I knew that I couldn’t keep it up. I also knew that I wanted to embark on investigative documentary work, and with The Empire Files, I’m able to invest an entire week’s worth of work to provide important and timeless context to the issues of the day. Although the budget for the show is much less than RT, it’s been an invaluable experience to learn what goes into creating a show from scratch.

DD My favorite art pieces from you are the collages. “Ganesha Nagarani”, “Business Man’s Trip” and “Earth Awakening” really draw me in. There’s this chaotic energy, and at the same time a cohesion and melding together of many elements. How has this outlet been moving for you recently? If you haven’t been focusing on this area recently, are there other visual artists you find especially striking at this time?

AM “Ganesha Nagarani” is my favorite piece! I love creating captivating, psychedelic webs of cultural expression. I still only have a staff of two helping to create the weekly production of The Empire Files, so having free time for art is limited. I’m trying to set up a show while I’m on the east coast, which will force me to produce more. Out of all the art I’ve seen in NYC so far, there is very little cutting political commentary and I hope to inject some before I move on to the next place.

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DD About the election and 2-party system. I’m remembering my high hopes for Obama, going with that “choose the lesser of two evils”, and questioning that mindset later. What’s your take on the election this year, Trump, Clinton and Sanders? What is your option for people who may think, “there’s no other way that has a serious chance”? My gut says, why project barriers and give into limitations? But I struggle with what to align myself with.

AM I think this election cycle is fascinating and promising for many reasons. The entire Republican establishment backed a candidate that its voter base totally rejected. Only good things can come from the corporate duopoly splintering like this. On the Democratic side, I think Bernie Sanders’ support is significant. It’s more than just symbolism. Unlike Obama, Sanders has a decades long record of policy votes to stand behind. Hillary’s upset so far is about a visceral rejection of the status quo and shows Americans are hungry for significant change. Unfortunately, Bernie already pledged to endorse corporate criminal Hillary Clinton as the democratic nominee and not run as an independent, which would be disastrous and demoralizing to his supporters. If he loses the nomination, I hope his base rallies behind Green Party candidate Jill Stein. I always advise people to vote with their heart, because any vote for a candidate that doesn’t represent them is a wasted vote, not the other way around. The more we marginalize third parties the more the two-party dictatorship maintains its stranglehold over the already rigged election system.

 

DD And finally, what is your mission for 2016?

AM To forgive and learn from my mistakes, and to constantly strive to be a better, stronger person.

Abby Martin – Twitter Facebook

The Empire Files – Twitter Facebook Youtube

 – Jimi Jaxon

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Very recently I was a part of Intiman’s Launch Party for this campaign, DJ’ing alongside some other rad performers and speakers at the beautiful Canvas Event Space. As I took it all in, I was moved by their words, energy and plans for this years Theatre Festival. Their 2016 program will highlight Black female playwrights, while also encouraging more racial diversity on their stages. This fundraiser will fuel that program. My initial thoughts were, “I feel inspired, but, I’m not a part of the theater community, so maybe I’m not cut out to help with this.” I was focusing more on perceived differences instead of what brings us all together. As I reflected more, it was obvious that we are on the same team. A team of passionate individuals expressing themselves in a variety of ways, who believe in lifting up others, especially those voices that have been forgotten or overlooked. I know the power of the arts to encourage, empower and challenge accepted norms, at times more easily than mere conversation or debate. I have dedicated Disco Droppings, 7 Deadly Records and everything else that makes up Jimi Jaxon to those qualities. As a gay person of color myself, I feel drawn to their program, as a way to connect more with a part of my heritage in a new way. But, the benefits of the work Intiman is doing, and plan to do are for everyone. Regardless of your background, we can all relate as human beings, each with our own unique lens, more similar than we are different. The more we seek to build community and encourage conversation, the more understanding and harmonious coexisting we can generate. So with that, I’m happy to jump on as a Team Leader for this fundraiser. If you feel inclined to support, I have a page here where you can donate and let Intiman know I sent you there. This campaign runs till February 29, 2016!

*UPDATE* Numbers are in, $131,943 Raised!

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Intiman has been a part of Seattle for 45 years now, producing more than 200 American stories as well as brand new works. In 2012 they became a summer festival. Since then they have produced 12 plays (3 new), trained up-n-coming artists, employed artists and staff each year, and connected with over 45,000 audience members. This years festival will be curated by Andrew Russel (Producing Artistic Director) and Valerie Curtis-Newton (Head of Performance at UW School of Drama, and Artistic Director of the Hansberry Project).

Intiman – Facebook Twitter

intiman.org

– Jimi Jaxon

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MORE TBA

Engine Farm – Soundcloud Bandcamp Facebook

Sphyramid – Soundcloud Facebook

– Jimi Jaxon

 

My love affair with Keith Haring is in full swing again. How could I forget?

Just when I need it most, I’m reminded of the vast collection of his work digitally, through Artsy. We are blessed with the now easy ability to view 208 of his works (and counting)! Which really is a super small piece of the gigantic output of this marvelous man. Click on each picture for the larger view.

Fertility #3, 1983

 

 

 

 

I’m always struck by his ability to convey so much with relatively simple designs, that translate quickly to a wide range of individuals.

 

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Just seeing Keith in a video like this is electrifying for me. I just missed him here on Earth, gone way to soon in my eyes. Keith was superb at challenging his surroundings. Not just taking in his surroundings, but zooming out for a more broad picture, discovering his point of view, and then demonstrating that point of view in a forceful, yet playful way. So, in the spirit of not taking “reality” at face value, I encourage the continued research and discussion into the nature of Keiths death. Question. Everything.

I love you Keith, shine on

– Jimi Jaxon

 

Works respectively: Self Portrait, Fertility #3 (1983), Untitled #7 (1988), A Pile of Crowns for Jean-Michel Basquiat (1988)

 

Perfect time for reflection. In case you missed it, we had Disco Droppings first release a few months ago. “MMXV”, Free 7-track + mixed version from Sphyramid. Was able to get some of our friends behind the video, artwork and tunes to share their perspectives..

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Sphyramid, Producer

DD Knowing and working alongside you over the years, this seemed to be your most involved project so far. There were many elements coming together over what ended up being 6 months or so. Now that some time has past since the release in October, how do you reflect on it all?

SPH Well the whole thing is pretty coincidental, it started as a single track and video (Loud Enough). I didn’t have a computer at the time but my roommate was going to Mexico for a month which gave me the opportunity to use his computer to record the rest of the release.

This collection of tracks represents a huge release of negative energy. My father passed away in January of 2014, then I experienced an intense process of betrayal and forgiveness between a lover and a close friend the following October. then in April of 2015, I quit my food service job that I once loved but had become a personal hell. Somehow being driven to my most extreme state of overwhelming despair gave me the courage to look at my self and make that jump to being a creative professional. As soon as I left that mental and physical space of loathing to focusing on my art I received more and more opportunities. I started the video project with Tucker and put the call out for people to help. All of a sudden I realized that I had this huge crew of supportive, loving friends and fans.

I basically spent the remainder of this year fine tuning the tracks, getting them mastered, and corresponding with Alden for the artwork. Now that we are approaching the end of the year its fitting that we look back on “MMXV” because that is exactly what I named it (roman numerals for 2015). This might just be post rationalization, but this project was like some kind of offering to the gods, a sacrifice or something. It’s like saying, “Here take this darkness, I don’t need it anymore. But it has served me well.”

Next year I would like to re-release it as “MMXVI” (2016) with as many vocal edits and remixes as possible. But until I find all my vocalists and get that recorded I will continue my research and development for my next project. “MMXV” was like therapy, but it was also just a snapshot of a year in my life, a collection of ideas that happened to fit together. My next project will be a more cohesive concept album focusing on some more positive and playful feelgood vibes, I think I have earned it :]

 

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Alden Lee, Artwork

DD I was impressed with some of your previous pieces, and pleased to have you on board for artwork. How do you go about creating, and how was it being involved with this project?

AL I sift through magazines looking for anything that catches me eye and cut them out, and those cut-outs go in a bin. When I make something new I spread out all the paper pieces on the floor and see if any of them look good together. If they do, then I add more pieces and go from there.

It was a lot of fun contributing to the MMXV release. The design was inspired by some stills of the video shoot, and I wanted to make something that could key into those mystical and occult elements.

 

Tucker Grindstaff, Video Director

DD I remember being a small part of one of the shooting days for “Loud Enough” over in Everett earlier this year. You were noticeably apt at guiding a sizable group of people through the different scenes in a calm, upbeat way. What did you take from this whole process?

TG The “Loud Enough” video shoot was a party in a bedroom of Sphyramid’s house with all of his friends who were there to have fun, dress up, and get absolutely crazy. All I had to do was tell them when to party in the bedroom and when to eat tater tots to go with their champagne. I couldn’t have done it without my production team, especially Alexander Vincini and Adam Bagley who helped tremendously in wrangling the crowd; really my job was just ensuring that people knew there were tater tots to eat and where the tots were. The end product showed the fun and ‘maniacally smiling from the shadows’ vibe that drew me to Sphyramid’s music in the first place, and in the end I think it was a lesson in how to create an atmosphere that mirrored the artist’s intention. Really though, those tots took it to another level.

Sphyramid – Soundcloud Facebook

* Thanks to Lealia and anyone else that was a part of this project and was not mentioned.

– Jimi Jaxon