Week in Pop: KNXVES, Macajey, The Nico Missile

Sjimon Gompers

Getting to know KNXVES—San Franciso's rising star; photographed by Nicole Sievert.


Getting to know San Francisco's KNXVES; photographed by Nicole Sievert.

Getting to know San Francisco’s KNXVES; photographed by Nicole Sievert.

Out of the fogs from the Bay Area arises the conscious narratives of Oakland’s own KNXVES (UC Berkeley Architecture student, formerly of The Ten Thousand) that opens up the conversation & questions about the civilized nature of humanity from contemporary events & issues to the dawn of cognitive existence. Presenting the sound & visual series Civilized Pt. 1-4, featuring direction from Nicole Sievert—KNXVES offers up meditations through musical expressions that confront questions of black identity in white spaces, the degradation & destruction of the body & culture all the while asking the almost rhetorical inquiry of “What does it mean to be Civilized?” Citing the revolutionary writer Frantz Omar Fanon, the events in Ferguson & all upheavals rising up against injustice everywhere; KNXVES presents the first look at “Part 1” of a four-part series that offers up a view of what it’s like to be black in current day America where now (more than ever) the most regressive trends rule & govern social & civic functions.

KNXVES at the SF MOMA in front of a Tomás Saraceno architectural piece; press photo courtesy of the artist.

KNXVES at the SF MOMA in front of a Tomás Saraceno architectural piece; press photo courtesy of the artist.

KNXVES offered up the following official & exclusive introduction to the Civilized Pt. 1-4 series with the following insights on how the inception of multi-disciplinary project:

One day, during a conversation with some friends about the problems around race, class and gender the topic turned to so-called civilized behavior and culture. It didn’t take long to realize that, in many ways, no progress had been made—if progress is even a useful concept—and in a lot of ways, what was termed uncivilized was in many ways normal. Specifically the topic of recorded state violence and its widespread broadcasting. A weird normalization of watching people suffer. From Gladiators to NASCAR to Micheal Brown. I came to the conclusion that maybe there has never been a true civilization on this planet. Maybe none of us are civilized.

The Nicole Sievert video for KNXVES’ “Civilized Pt. 1” offers up shot edits & fuzzy static effects that respond to the bee hive hum that zaps & rumbles about the abstract piano blues & digitally dissonant rhythms. Sievert employees a throwback home-recorded look that occasionally displays vintage-looking on-screen lyrics as KNXVES’ narrative of knife twisting vicious behaviors are accentuated through a barrage of effects that distort the artist’s minimalist appearance against the gallery blank background. The reiterations of “I watched you twist the knife” are obfuscated among a moody brew of audio & film effects that drive home a plea for human understanding in a world that has traded civility for the hubris of suspicious self-interests. KNXVES voices out a solemn song that bares witness to the wrongs against POC & all marginalized people that continuously seeks to understand why the world rejects all semblance of civility.

Also behold KNXVES’s video for “Reasons Pt. 2” from Alexandra Nicole Solis-Sison that sees our Oakland hero performing low-lit practice space & seeking rationales & reasons. With similar occaisional on-screen lyrics & choppy edit cuts; KNXVES engages in a war of atrition that pits their reasons against anothers. With lightbull fixtures hanging around & KNXVES dishing out grooves on a drum kit; “Reasons Pt. 2” is sung like a traditional hymn updated for the conversations that are only way people are going to get beyond obstinate & prejudiced clashes & move toward the enlightened paths of human understandings.

Listen to more from KNXVES via the artist’s site.

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