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Interview with FKA Magazine

by Daisy de Montjoye

I met with Formerly Known As Magazine founders Natalie Della Valle, Emma Gaudio and Julian Trompeter to talk about their art mag and their upcoming ** party ** (Saturday November 15th)! FKA mag is a Montreal-based art magazine, born out of the desire to highlight and expose the creators that are defining the foreground of culture for our generation. Check out their website and Facebook page for more info!! 

Natalie is from Peterborough, NH and is majoring in Anthropology. Emma is from Toronto and studies History with a minor in Communications and Cultural studies, and Julian is from NYC, and is a Cultural Studies Major, Film studies and Communications minor. 

So what brought you guys together for FKA Mag? What are your goals for the magazine? 

In first year we all talked about doing something art-related. The three of us would send each other photos and cool links to check out on Facebook (like Dazed and Confused and stuff), and we wanted to just do that formerly. We thought that at McGill there was not enough opportunity for us to do what we wanted. We wanted to create whatever our vision was, and felt constrained with being someone’s b*** at a McGill art oriented magazine. We realized that a lot of people out there are creating really crazy stuff and we wanted to be able to share that with people. A lot of the time in the arts there’s this hierarchical system of going through a formal art or art history education so as to make your way through the art world. But then when you’re looking at someone who’s 20 and it’s all weird Internet art, you don’t always want to discuss their work in an academic context. We wanted to feature these young kids and bring their art to students and other people who aren’t usually surrounded by the arts, like those who wouldn’t necessarily pick up the new Artforum issue, but would still be able to appreciate this kind of stuff. This is our alternative to the hierarchy: our goal is to be very inclusive.

Do you have a general concept that ties the magazine together?

Our concept really is being accessible. But still, the people we choose to feature are usually dedicated artists; art is what they do in life. They’re developing an aesthetic and an idea of what their art is, of who they are as an artist. We received a number of submissions from people who were just throwing in a one-off thing, without really thinking it through. We’re more oriented towards artists who’ve been doing things for a while and have a vision. They know what they want to do, and we try to provide them with a platform that allows them to do it. We usually send out questionnaires to the artists we select, and they’re pretty thorough. You have to be able to say what influenced your project or what it encapsulates. We do have fun with it though – it’s super accessible but we still respect the arts just as much as any other publication would. 

What/ who is your main source of inspiration?

What inspired us was the desire to create an arts mag outside of the McGill sphere; the options that we were presented with didn’t really align with what FKA is striving to be. We didn’t want to be McGill sponsored or affiliated — we go there, but we wanted to provide an alternative to the McGill sh*t that’s out there. We wanted to be in publishing/journalism and the arts, so it just made sense. We all just needed to create and do something. We’ve been talking about this since first year, and we were probably drunk to be honest… but we did it! We have our second issue on the way. 

…. And what about Drake? You seem to speak/joke about him a lot.

Drake does not influence us directly, but his energy and persona inspire us. He’s part of the Canadian experience. You know the American dream… well the Canadian dream is propelled by Drake’s success. How do you envision the future for FKA mag? Expanding and getting known. The best possible outcome would be growing and actually making money from this. Make money from sh*t you love and actually want to do is the dream, isn’t it? We’d like to continue after McGill – it would be so much better after McGill actually. You know, if our name became well known enough for kids in art school to be able to say “I’m gonna submit my stuff to FKA,” because by then it’ll be the first step/platform to get to something bigger.

Do you hope to have exhibitions accompanying the catalogue?

Yes. That’s just another more interactive way to feature our artists. It’s a good way to get their names out and have people engage with their art properly. Instead of looking at it in a magazine or on a computer, you could go and look at it, and have a conversation with the artist. It’s also a more direct way to bring art to college kids and have them interact with art in a more formal way. We also throw parties, which is the less formal side in a sense. We try to create an inclusive space for everyone and anyone to come and enjoy art. This idea of inclusiveness also has to do with our generation as a whole. In our age, the Internet has opened up everything, and we couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for the Internet. [Emma] As someone who doesn’t make art directly, I think that’s very important, since I feel like my notion of art was always very exclusive. Is there a predominant type of art that you all seem to appreciate that maybe one day you could centre your magazine on? Right now it’s definitely Internet art. We love Internet art. There’s so much stuff online and Internet art definitely embraces the kind of endless proliferation of images that we are surrounded by, and brings them out in a cool way. Or just art that doesn’t take itself too seriously but is still really good… Weird shit, pieces of technical mastery that are also humble and humorous at the core, coz that’s what FKA is.

The artists you feature, are they all mostly Montreal based artist?

No. Well for Issue 1, no one knew who we were, so we used our friends mostly. This issue will be more Montreal than last time, but still we have France, England, Mexico, Hong Kong… We’re all over. We’re V international. 

What are your favourite things about Montreal and its cultural scene?

Living here it’s very creative and DIY. It makes you able to do things like this. You see all these people doing things and you realize hey I can do this too. It’s very accessible.

Let’s talk about your parties: What are your future projects? What kind of music and artists do you guys usually have?

We try to be innovative, and bring stuff that we would want to see at a party we weren’t throwing. Good DJs that aren’t playing f*cking Avicci, or cool projections that make you feel like you’re dying but that are really cool. We’re trying to do something a bit different to what parties are usually like. We’re here to take people on an adventure. It’s a journey, and if you don’t like it, well f*ck. How do you take people on an adventure? As students, we’re often too busy to talk about art and creativity, especially at McGill… Shots not fired at McGill but yeah… shots fired at McGill – you don’t have a f*cking art program. So we’re throwing parties, but with the stuff we include and support – like the music, and artists, the projections – our goal is to remind about creative culture at a peer-to-peer level. We don’t have big production value, but with the energy we bring and the nonsense atmosphere we create in our parties, we’re driving for things to get a little crazier. Our next party Art On Fleek is on Saturday November 15th in a loft just off St Lau, and we’re using Andy Warhol’s Factory (among other things) as inspiration for the décor, so y’all should come check it out! And it’s all by donation!

Do you think it’ll stay that way?

We’re selling issues too (first issue can also be viewed online *here*). And for our next party this Saturday we’re doing pay-what-you-can – Bandcamp style. We’re not gonna make people pay $20, that’s just crazy. But oh my, imagine if we made people pay that much. You would probably come to this party to die. It would be a lobster party, with caviar and champagne instead of jello shots. And lobster sandwiches where the bread is made of lobster. It would be so wild… **short pause**

Ok, thanks for answering these questions about your mag. Now we want to know a bit more about you guys: Where is your go-to spot for hungover brunch?

[Emma] Bagel etc on Saint Lau and Rachel 

 [Julian] And Beauty’s too

For a drink or night out?

[Natalie] Benelux for beer, the patio is so wonderful. The beer is so good, and it’s just very chill in general.

Your favourite concert venue?

[Natalie] I once went to a party in a bakery. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen and by far the coolest concert venue in MTL.

[Emma] Maybe the SAT. It’s so open and chill, and we’ve seen so many artists and acts there. They also have the wildest videos and visuals. I mean they are the Société des Arts Technologiques so they embrace all the things that technology has brought to art, they create really cool environments through those means. Favourite St Lau mural? [Emma] Barré – it’s in the parking lot near Saint Woods. **here** Also this one graffiti on Clark and Mount Royal, it’s just a girl’s head. And I just laugh at it coz it looks like she got too turnt… it’s the most ugly face I’ve ever seen, it’s amazing. If you could have an individual and collaborative superpower, what would they be? [Emma] To not be stressed. I need more chill [Julian] To be able to sleep on command, that’s my real fucking dream. Always sleep nicely and be awake after, like a quick recharge. [Natalie] To be mad focused when I need to be. Like Adderall girl. {[Anna] Y’all sound like a prescriptive drug… weed, Valium and Adderall.} And our collab superpower… The Collaborative Turn Up Pick a group favourite: Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe or Mona Lisa?
Mona Lisa. Versailles or the Playboy mansion?
Versailles. Old money, we’re playing the illuminati field. Di Caprio or Da Vinci?
Da Vinci for sure. Di Caprio’s started to suck. Sorry, but Wolf of Wall Street was one giant temper tantrum. Simpsons or Southpark?
Simpsons. Bikini Bottom or Candy Kingdom?
Bikini Bottom – that sh*t is definition wavy. Duchamp’s Fountain or Manzoni’s Artist’s Shit?
I’m down for shit in a can… But actually Fountain, that shit is so important to contemporary art.

Graphics by Anneliese Feininger >>

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