What is the first piece of art you remember seeing as a child or young person?
I grew up in St. Catharines and there was a life-size giraffe made out of car bumpers called Gerry the Giraffe. As a kid, obviously I thought this was greatest thing in the world. But it turned out not everybody appreciated Gerry as much as I did, and it frequently got moved in response to complaints from people who thought it was an eyesore. I remember that it was briefly set up outside a local bar where the same disagreeable person deliberately drove their car in to it...TWICE! Seeing how worked up everybody got about this innocent thing made me realize how powerful even a silly expression of art could be.
Tell us about Dadmobile—“Waterloo-based, pants-hating, DIY-liking community focused record label.” What’s the issue with pants?
Dadmobile Records is a collective of like-minded local musicians who banded together in order to support each other. To call it a "record label" might be overstating it, but we have released over 30 records since 2000!
The pants thing started when I was in high school, where I had to wear a uniform. We had the option of wearing pants or shorts, and so my friends and I wore shorts year round until they made a rule that you couldn't wear shorts in the winter. At some level, I think this story reflects the prevailing mentality of our recording collective.
If you were a visual artist, what medium would you explore?
I am interested in creating interactive art, using any medium that allows the art to change and evolve based on the environment and the way the viewer experiences it. I think this comes from the fact that I spend a lot of my time on computer programming and playing music. Writing good software is all about thinking about how people interact with things. What I love about live music performance is how it is often unexpectedly influenced by the people, both performers and audience.
If you could have an artist, living or dead, over for dinner, who would you choose and what would you serve?
I hear Salvador Dali threw some legendary dinner parties, so I have to assume he would make a fascinating dinner guest. But I suppose that means we would have to serve something pretty epic to have any chance of meeting his standard.
If you could share one thing about the importance of philanthropy and the arts, what would you say?
Since we are talking about the KW Community, I would note our city's role as a leader in technological innovation. I believe we have a responsibility to understand how what we do changes the world around us.
The way we do this is through the arts, and we need to support this now more than ever. Technical innovations empower artists to create and spread their work, but the same tools have also disconnected us from the value of the work of creators. A trend towards austerity threatens anything that doesn't produce a rapid return on investment. Social networks bring people together virtually, but also have a habit of reinforcing existing beliefs instead of expanding our horizons.
I believe art asks the questions and helps us to find answers to these issues. Making a personal connection to the arts provides a way for us to stay connected to the community around us. And the simplest and most direct way to contribute and nurture this is philanthropy.
Pictured: Andrea Bianchi + Tony Salomone