Cloud Cult announce tour, give away tix + talk about art

After releasing one of the top albums of 2007, The Meaning of 8, Cloud Cult took no time before recording their next full length, entitled Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes), which will be available April 8. In support of the new album, Cloud Cult will tour the U.S. after warming it up at SXSW. So far, they’ve announced these dates for April and May:

  Apr 11 High Noon Saloon Madison, Wisconsin
  Apr 12 Radio Radio Indianapolis, Indiana
  Apr 18 The Bowery Ballroom New York, New York
  Apr 25 Schuba’s Tavern Chicago, Illinois
  Apr 26 First Avenue Minneapolis, Minnesota
  May 9 Neumos Seattle, Washington
  May 10 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, Oregon
  May 13 Bottom of the Hill San Francisco, California
  May 14 Knitting Factory Hollywood, California
  May 17 Larimer Lounge Denver, Colorado

Tickets for the Seattle and Portland dates go on sale this Saturday, but we have 2 pairs of tickets for both shows to give away. If you’d like to win a pair of tickets to either show, write to by this coming Friday at 12PM (PST), and we’ll choose 4 lucky winners at random. [Please specify either Seattle or Portland.] In the meantime, check out their MySpace page for tour details and for a special online presale of the album starting in early March.

photo by Paula Thomas

These paintings were done at last year’s 5th Annual KEXP BBQ. You may remember that during Cloud Cult’s moving set, Connie Minowa and Scott West painted canvases on stage with the rest of the band, adding an entirely new and fascinating dimension to the live performance. I had a chance to ask Connie and Scott a few questions their process and the challenges of painting live:

What led you to first take your painting to the stage?

Connie: Craig did actually. One day he asked me if I would be interested in painting during a show. I thought it would be interesting to take painting to the stage. We’ve been creative together before and we’ve always felt that music compliments art and art compliments music, so it was just a natural fit.

Scott: I used to play guitar for Craig but always knew my first passion was painting. When I told Craig that I was going to focus on painting and not music. We decided to use it in the writing process. Eventually it just seemed natural to bring it to the stage.

To what extent does the band’s performance on a given night affect your painting?

Connie: It certainly affects the painting. Even though we can do a show night after night, every night is different; this makes it very spontaneous and enjoyable. We all bring a positive energy or light to the stage when we perform with the hope that the music and the paintings will come across in a similar manner. The paintings can serve as an expression or interpretation of the music and the moment in time.

Scott: In every way the music and the show determine the outcome of the painting. The energy of the show determines the subject matter and even the nature of the brush strokes. The songs played can determine the color.

Is the process in any way reciprocal? Do your paintings ever change the tone of the band’s performance?

Connie: Hmm, I think it does. Craig has often said that he turns around to get a glimpse of our work as it develops. It seems to inspire his energy.

Scott: I would also like to think so. I know that all of the creative energy on stage both painting and music is what feeds the show.

Painting by Connie Minowa 4/10/07
While your styles both seem expressionistic, there are some definite differences between the way each of you paint. How would you describe each other’s style?

Scott: I think I see influence of Edvard Munch in Connie’s paintings. I would say her work is more organic and flowing than mine. Her subject content seems to be less narrative. The colors are more natural and calming.

Connie: I think what you see at a Cloud Cult show is an example of a type of work that we are capable of. We both have studio work that is different from the Cloud Cult work. Both are lovely in their own ways.

For as abstract as your brush strokes may be at times, you both include strong figurative elements, mainly people in what seem to be fairly intimate relationships. Among them, though, are otherworldly figures like angels, aliens, and robots, making it seem that otherness and togetherness are strong themes in your work. Do you agree? What other themes do you develop?

Connie: I would agree. Otherworldly figures, philosophy, spirituality, our interconnectedness, relationships, abstraction, meditation, the energies that be, suffering, joy, womanhood, motherhood… they have all been underlying themes in my paintings. Loosing our son has also been a strong force behind much of my work. Cloud Cult offers a different kind of outlet for some of these themes to come out, which is nice. It’s wonderful that the audience has a chance to see the paintings develop and add their own interpretations and meanings to it as well. It becomes a very honest and real experience for everyone.

Scott: I think that my characters evolve from the music and can repeat from show to show developing their own story. A kind of existence… not sure where they come from maybe they are an extension of myself or all of us.

Painting by Scott West 4/17/07
How do the ideas of Cloud Cult’s music tie into your art? In some of the paintings, there seem to be a lot of figure 8’s to correspond with The Meaning of 8. Do you find that you’re exploring similar themes of mortality, as Craig describes when discussing the album, or are you pursing different ideas altogether?

Scott: I think that Craig speaks about universal concepts of love and life…
I would say I interpret them with my experience. I realize that my experience is not unlike others so it is my hope that the visuals help communicate the over all message.

Connie: I think it’s similar and different. Our son Kaidin is definitely a strong influence on both our performances. The message in the music ties in with the painting in a very intimate and personal way, just as experiences, interpretations and/or understandings tie into the music. The eights pertaining to the The Meaning of 8 have been a theme for much of the recent touring. The eights have many meanings to me with the interconnectedness of it all being one of them.

I noticed at the KEXP BBQ that you both switched paintings for a brief period. When you do that (which I assume doesn’t happen every show), and you’re working each other’s painting, do you attempt to follow with what was happening before, or do you inject your own style onto the canvas?

Connie: We switch every so often. It shakes things up a bit. It’s a fun challenge and I think it adds an interesting element in watching the paintings develop over the course of the performance. You wonder…. What is Scott going to paint on Connie’s painting and what is Connie going to paint on Scott’s painting?

Scott: I like to challenge Connie… I like to interpret her work and expand on it. The painting is about process and about the show… so when we do that it is like a challenge in the process… a way to awaken the concept from another point of view.

When you switch back to your original canvasses, are you ever thrown for a loop? If so, what do you do?

Scott: Oh yeah… but I love the challenge.

Connie: Most of the time it’s like… “Wow, now that’s fun!” Occasionally you get thrown for a loop. Scott did throw me for a loop once when he switched the theme that I was working on. I came back to my painting and it was like “what?!” Then it’s funny because you have to make some quick decisions. Do I want to save that or paint over it? That’s what adds to the adventure though. Plus, Scott is a good friend of mine and I trust his artist eye. He may see things that I don’t and vice versa, which makes it enjoyable to collaborate.

Painting by Scott West & Connie Minowa 4/21/07
The length of a concert seems really short to complete a finished painting. Watching you two paint, I thought there was no way you would get them done, yet you both turned out amazingly rich canvasses. Was that a difficult skill to develop? Do you ever find yourselves caught with too little or too much time?

Scott: Yeah, it is sometimes difficult. I have always felt that a work of art is never complete in itself. Each painting is a stepping stone for the next. Each painting has a lesson for me personally and with that I hope that the work grows with each show.

Connie: Well, in a way you develop it and in a way you just go with it. Most of the time when you are up on stage, time flies and all you can do is just paint your heart out!

At the end of each concert, you auction off the paintings. During the KEXP BBQ, they went for over $800 a piece (or so I heard). Is that a record? If not, what’s the most they’ve ever sold for?

Connie: No… believe it or not, that is not the record. We have been very fortunate with some of our painting sales. All of the profits from the painting sales go into the band fund, so it is great that people who buy the paintings not only support us by purchasing and enjoying our work, but they also support the Cloud Cult and this project as a whole. In my opinion you couldn’t ask for a better investment. O.K., I may be a bit biased on that one.

Scott: The money is good but that is not what it is about for us. It is really about the show and making art accessible to everyone. I love the idea of seeing something unexpected.

To see more of their paintings are read comments from all members of the band, check out the ongoing Cloud Cult Journal.

This entry was posted in Interviews, KEXP, KEXP Suggests, New York. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. peter lentsch
    Posted February 4, 2008 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    what a cool idea and how inspiring for everyone involved! and selling the paintings after the concert – what a terrific way to support the artists and take a bit of the experience with you forever ; 8. I have been listening to cloud cult for years and would so love to see them live. hopefully they make it over to munich some day soon!

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