Talk Thursday To Me – Jeremy Brightbill

Today we catch up with old friend of the blog Jeremy Brightbill to find out about his move to Louisville, KY and how the work is progressing.

Postcard Editor: Hey Jeremy, how’s everything down Louisville way?

Jeremy Brightbill: It’s… interesting? Having finally met a few people and found a semi-regular routine just in time to be disrupted by a completely mismanaged pandemic and then a further, more heroically botched response to a social movement… well, “interesting” is one word to describe it. I do like it here, but at this point, “here” could almost be anywhere.

PE: Yeah, it’s definitely made everyone reassess their relationship with where they live for sure. When did you make the move down there?

JB: I got here in August of 2016.

PE: So you have had some time to take in the new city then before everything went to lockdown. What prompted you to move to Louisville from Bloomington?

JB: When I left Bloomington, I really felt that I’d done everything I could there. I was in love, and moved to the DC/NOVA area to be with that person, and it didn’t take. I was worried if I did the “Bloomington Boomerang” mere months after leaving that it would, I don’t know, be some sort of admission of defeat (I recognize know that this is stupid), and I’d always loved Louisville. And it’s close to home. And I knew a ton of ex-Bloomington people who’d moved here, so at the time it seemed like a no-brainer. Fresh start, close to home, already had a crew, etc.

PE: Has it felt like a fresh start in terms of your artwork? Cities tend to have certain energies or vibes, wondering if you’ve noticed an influence in your paintings that’s come from that change.

JB: I want to say yes. I mean, I’m so close to it, that I don’t feel I can objectively say so, but looking at the work I did when I first got here, there’s definitely a different energy, a different motion. But I’m not sure how much of that has to do with place, or how much influence being utterly devastated and heartbroken and lost had to with it. Obviously, there’s a complicated combination of everything “out there” going into the type of painting I do. So… yes. I guess I could have just said yes.

PE: What’s your typical work process like?

JB: Look out, it’s my favorite thing in the world to talk about! I don’t work on something unless I’m compelled to, which is the opposite of those “always do it, do a little every day, it’s a muscle, etc” types. And, to be fair, when it’s on, I’m compelled to work constantly.

I do have a sort of ritual, in that I always light incense, put on a record, set a drink on the table, change into my painting jeans, or whatever, set down the cardboard or the table, put the surface down, stare it down, get a bit agitated (I like to imagine those gifs of a cat’s eyes going black), and then attack the piece and get it going.

PE: What records have you been painting to lately?

JB: The new Phoebe Bridgers, which is so good I’m almost angry at it. New No Joy, new Fiona. There are some go-tos like Notwist, Ms John Soda, Apparat, the Books, Sharon van Etten, Angel Olsen, Bon Iver, Low. All great stuff to paint to.

PE: What makes a great record for painting? Is there a common trait?

JB: A feeling. I don’t know. Abstract, non-lyric-heavy, for me. Stuff like Under Byen, Sigur Ros, Samaris. If I don’t know what they’re saying, it’s less distracting. If there are no words, it’s less distracting. I just let the music move me and twist me up. On the other hand, Nick Cave or Bjork or some of the other more vocal music I mentioned earlier, it’s in my DNA, I’ve heard it so many times, so it doesn’t distract. It’s already part of me.

Pry Me Loose From Your Deep Blue Vein
– inspired by the Karen O & Dangermouse song of the same name.

PE: I know in the past you’ve painted pieces that are directly related to or reactions to certain songs. Have you done anything like that recently?

JB: Almost always. Low’s latest album was playing when I started the gouging into the wet paint, where it obscures and nearly erases the top layer. But I’ve always been fascinated by erasing or scraping away an image or a form, removing key parts of the narrative, so to speak. I do choose the music very deliberately to at least set a mood, or to maybe to direct me a little bit. It’s hard to describe, because it’s so weird and almost subconscious. It’s trance-like, almost a fugue state. 
PE: I can see that. Your work has a meditative sense to it with a lot of repetitive but changing images.

JB: It’s the closest to TM I’ll ever get, for sure.

PE: What about playing music? Have you been doing anything in that realm?

JB: I haven’t played since I left Bloomington. I have guitar and a bass sitting in my closet just in case, though.

PE: Just in case is a great way to think of it. If a rock emergency rises and you are needed, you are ready.

JB: Indeed. I have ideas for the cut-n-paste electronic stuff I used to make, but nothing urgent enough to find freeware for a Mac. Not right now, anyway.

PE: Word. Well thanks for taking the time to chat. Anything you want to include before we wrap it up?

JB: Listen to Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers? I don’t know, I got nothing. Thanks for talking!

PE: Your wish is our command!

You can check out more of Jeremy’s work here, and acquaint yourself with his musical back catalog with Panic Strikes a Chord here and Tremendous Fucking here and here.

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