Week in Pop: Baseball Gregg, Future Twin, Versing

Sjimon Gompers

The revolution, visions, activism, strength & steadfast resolve of Future Twin's Jean Jeanie; photographed by Basil Glew-Galloway.

Future Twin

Don't look back—Future Twin's Jean Jeanie; photographed by Basil Glew-Galloway.

Don’t look back—Future Twin’s Jean Jeanie; photographed by Basil Glew-Galloway.

Future Twin remain one of the most active & involved bands to keep up the good fight in their home of San Francisco, their surrounding Bay Area digs & the world at large catching the attention from their releases Chillality, the Resist 7″, Situation EP, Jean Jeanie’s offshoot Dark Materials, various contributions to creative art projects and consistently championing local causes that have direct impacts on their community. From fighting gentrification, SF’s eviction epicemic, protesting the abuses of police & the ruling political powers and more; Jean Jeanie has always backed up her activism with the Future Twin sound that shatters the modernist canon that trades nostalgia for creating sounds that match the current climate of creativity, feeling, emotion & steel-eyed resolve in the face of surmounting adversity as well as any and all obstacles that might present themselves. The message from Jean & Future Twin is that we’re here to stay, where resist is executed with an emotive heart that exemplifies an utmost respect for the fragile state of humanity along with the limitless beauty & power of the human spirit.

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Playing tonight at San Francisco’s Milk Bar (1840 Haight St.), Future Twin presents the world premiere for their video “Are You Rested (Enough Yet)” written & directed by Jean Jeanie, filmed by Basil Glew-Galloway & edited by Radek Lecyk. A video created in solidarity with The Right to Rest Campaign that defends homeless people’s own human rights through legislative support in California, Colorado & Oregon to decriminalize homelessness; Jean’s visions are turned into realities through appearances & contributions from Ripley Jene Young, Aaron David Bray, Wade Story Driver. With art direction from Lizzie Renschler & projections by Jonathan Jolly, we see Jean enjoying restful slumbers in enchanted gardens, to sweeping fields of green to taking up residency in a shop window of a gallery where the act & art of rest becomes an installation unto itself. Forest treehouse hideaways also seen like a rural clubhouse escape from the rest of the world as the question posed by the song’s title of “Are You Rested (Enough Yet)” is recited over & over throughout the as the volume & arrangement grows louder & more urgent. Future Twin depicts through the song & video that the concept of being able to rest is a human right that much of society scorns as being indolent & lazy (as concepts of rest & sleep are not necessarily perceived as being actively involved in the workaholic obsessions of the nine to five obsessed rat races). Jean depicts a vast array of places to rest one’s head, enjoying mysterious potions all the while. Her stay resting in the gallery window depicts Jean connecting with the passersby who notice the resting artist and make contact by placing their respective hands together on the storefront window in an endearing show of support & solidarity. After the following debut viewing of the video for “Are You Rested (Enough Yet)”, read our exclusive interview with Future Twin’s Jean Jeanie.

First of all, please tell us about the The Right to Rest Campaign, and how you partnered up with them for this video.

Hey Impose, thanks for asking. The Right to Rest Campaign is basically a bill of rights for people who are currently unhoused. The organizers within the movement describe it as “defending the human rights of homeless people by supporting legislation in California, Colorado and Oregon to decriminalize homelessness. These Bills would protect the rights of homeless people to move freely, rest, eat, and perform religious observations in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle.”

Didn’t formally partner with Right to Rest for this video; simply wanted to lend my art and music as a vehicle to get word out about emerging movements.

I am very passionate about land liberation and de-commodifying housing in urban centers and beyond. Housing is NOT a commodity and the current paradigm of “owning” land, something that existed long before us and will exist long after we are dead and gone, I feel, is a modern delusion. Sometimes people argue a defense of what is legal, as the main grounds for upholding unjust laws (like sit lie or other city laws that criminalize poverty). To those people I say, just look at slavery or women’s rights, to see that historically, just because something is legal, does not make it right.

From various natural locales to your own art installation at Right Window Gallery, describe the experiences involved, what you accomplished in the process, and what messages you hope came across through this.

The concept of town and country has long been on my mind. This piece encompasses that, showing elements of both. Humanizing the act of sleeping out of doors or in various places felt important, and possible to do in a beautiful sort of way. In San Francisco right now there are over 100 encampments, largely comprised of locals recently displaced from their long-term homes by out-of-town serial evictors and greedy speculators. It’s modern day colonialism and it’s morally wrong.

The installation in the Right Window Gallery of ATA (Artists Television Access) in San Francisco, came about dynamically. as part of “Better Homes and Gardens Today.” An art show where lead artists Megan Wilson and Christopher Statton painted over 500 signs with the word “Home” written in several different languages, from Japanese to Arabic. The artists wanted to heighten awareness on “home” and the realities of homelessness. Sales from the Home signs benefitted the Gubbio Project, the Coalition on Homelessness and At the Crossroads, organizations working to address homelessness in San Francisco.

As I was setting up for my performance that night, a few filmmaker friends and I decided to do a live performance in the window leading up to the show, showing a person sleeping or blindfolded holding the home signs in the gallery, visible through the windows, as the sun went down. ATA is one of the last long-standing independent art spaces in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, now surrounded by high-end boutiques selling painted splattered and worn denim pants for like $800, boutiques that forcibly displaced actual art spaces. It’s like…laugh or cry sometimes, ya know? Visibility, invisibility, reflection, reflective perspective shift…it’s all in there.

Idyllic landscapes coupled with color shadows are well and good in a pure fantasy sort of way…it’s like the beginning, the pretty and pure seeming moments that catch our imagination. But then the reality inevitably blurs the frame and we’re thrust to confront the everyday. I don’t want to live in a fantasy world. I want to contribute to creating a better reality. I think a lot of people feel this way, and I hope more and more people act on those feelings. The country is the dream and the city is the reality, in our modern world…this is also related to autonomy of space, but perhaps that is more for another time.

Tell us more about working with Basil Glew-Galloway & Radek Lecyk on the video, along with Ripley Jene Young, Aaron David Bray, with makeup by Lizzie Renschler & Jonathan Jolly’s projections.

Most of these artists are based in the SF Bay Area and were gracious enough to collaborate with me on this project. Haha really I corralled some of my best friends to act in the video, among other things. Ripley’s basically a genius and we play together often….. She and Aaron also act as the shadows in the dream sequence. We set up at Basil’s film studio in Oakland, dancing mirror movements bathed in colored light for a few hours. Lizzie, one of my dearest friends and a very talented painter, helped with art direction and make-up during the dream sequences. Ripley wanted to do her own, but Aaron was up for foreign fingers on his man mug. Basil shot most of the footage, running around with me in the fields and forests north of SF, and also filming at the Right Window Gallery in ATA. He helped edit, but most of the editing was done by Radek, who is a super gem to work with, very patient and brought some cool ideas on how to mess with visual reality and time. Jonathan is an artist based in Austin, I found his video artwork online, surrealist clouds floating amidst a painterly sky, and asked him if he’d be up for collaborating. In true creative comrade fashion, he was IN! I am incredibly grateful to my friends and contemporaries for putting up with me and helping to make this vision a reality.

What inspired “Are You Rested (Enough Yet)” the song for you personally?

The song is inspired by finding the energy to keep going, somehow, despite all the setbacks, all the sorrow that we seem to experience more and more on a daily basis. As more people are living in cities today then ever before, divisions along socio-economic lines become more apparent, as do peoples’ biases and prejudices. In a way, it’s a silver lining, because more and more people are being exposed to reality, rather than a hyper constructed one. I for one was very sheltered for most of my life, and felt it imperative to experience as much of the world as it really is, rather than a version that is basically made up to shelter people from that reality. It’s like…head in the sand syndrome. After I wrote and recorded the song, I read an interview where Banksy, the world-renowned political street artist, said “If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” I couldn’t agree more. Our collective conscience is alive and kicking.

It’s also about a past bandmate who really likes to nap. And my struggle to find affordable housing after I too was displaced by big tech workers, from my longterm and affordable home in San Francisco. For a while there, we had a running joke, where I’d introduce every damn song with “this song’s about trying to find affordable housing in San Francisco.” It’s like…laugh or cry at this point.

Tell us too what you have noticed about the growth and evolution of the Future Twin sound & message over the years.

Experimentation drives me, discovery, exploration. Sonically, I’ve been crafting more “avant pop” type music, sometimes a world beat and talking approach. I want people to understand what I’m saying. I’ve also been dancing a TON. Join the MOVEMENT, ya know? More breaking through the mold of traditional instrumentation and playing with found sounds and samples, in addition to the usual suspects like guitar, bass and keys. Sometimes playing rogue/solo, jumping on that bill by any means necessary ya know? I’m not sure what message there is but I do notice lately to be singing about time not being linear, circles, the earth not being flat, being ready and getting what you came for. Not sure what it all means. It’s as much my subconscious as I can muster. That’s what I’m always trying to delve into, among other things, and music helps me get there. But I also try to reflect, on my own, and then ultimately what’s spiraling around me, like a ribbon.

Can you share what else you have been working on creatively, activism wise, and so forth?

Collaborating with an SF-based producer, Miles DeIaco, writing and recording new tunes as they come. Currently releasing these songs and a batch of previously unreleased ones, every month, with a music video, starting with “Rested.”

Shooting my world lately for these music videos, rather than constructing anything, more like documenting some of the beautiful moments, sometimes I construct the beautiful moments too, or is that recursive? Walking into fantastic huge installations created by artists like Xara Thustra and asking if I can just hang out in the art forts and shoot there. Started collaborating with an SF-based filmmaker, Oliver Mellan, making more everyperson-type music videos. He’s got some great cameras that are basically children’s toys that have been modified to shoot on film. It’s a lot of experimentation and I feel really fortunate to have found another kindred spirit who takes the time to experiment. So much of the art created in cities, due to the housing crunch and other economic woes, does not have room to fail, and thus no room to experiment. What ends up happening a lot of times, in this case, is art that is “safe” or more “commercial.” And it’s boring. Another reason why autonomy of space is vital….

About a year ago I started working with a group of dedicated folks (including SF-based Emmy-winning director Eric Fournier) on a documentary film about the housing wars in San Francisco. It’s called “We Won’t Go” tentatively. A teaser of the film can be viewed at www.wewontgo.com.

We’re working on funding right now so please wish us luck! I also asked to contribute to the score, down the road, so wish me luck there too.

Still working as a housing rights organizer and volunteering as a Director for the SF Community Land Trust, helped secure two art spaces most recently, a mural organization and a gallery/bookstore, both of which had been around for 20+ years and were threatened with displacement. That feels good, even if it’s only a drop in the bucket. I harbor dreams of land trusting the entire city.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the Bay, our country, and abroad?

Affordable Housing, autonomy of space for everyone, not just the privileged. And seriously dancing, more people need to dance! It’s been scientifically proven that freestyle dancing makes you smarter, more specifically, that it increases one’s neuralplasticity. So…I traded in my guitar and amp for a body suit and ballet flats and just go for it on stage. I’ll probably pick up the guitar again eventually, but am having a lot of fun doing something different than the standard rock and roll / band orientation. People say that liberation happens on an individual basis, in each person’s mind, and I feel that if people danced more often, freestlye dancing though mind you (it’s about split second decision making in the moment, not rehashing old steps) we’d all be a lot better for it, mentally, physically and spiritually. I just read that David Byrne is opening a show in California all about neuroscience. His book “How Music Works” is magic.

What can we expect next from Future Twin?

Well I’m hoping to tour Europe next year, I’ve been fortunate to connect with ROLA music whose founder believes in me. More music videos made with the everyperson’s tools of production, a cell phone and children’s toys. More experimental avant pop music. As I mentioned, I’ll be releasing new songs once a month, with a video, as singles, for free exclusively through my site www.futuretwin.com. Offering them up to the proverbial wind with hopes that people will support my efforts to make more to share. Mutual-aid society style. We’ll see! It’s another experiment.

Parting words of wisdom, hopes, meditations, and more?

In the words of the late and great David Bowie, “let’s dance”.

Watch & listen to more from Future Twin via their site & Bandcamp.

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