Gravity Free

Anyone who has attended a concert or music festival of the grassroots and jam-style ilk in the last few years has probably seen Gravity Free in their element. They are live painters with a seemingly ubiquitous presence. Their rigorous event schedule, however, hasn’t dampened their creativity. Surrounded by the sounds and vibes of the best New Groove bands of Japan, they have a steady source of inspiration. They start with a huge blank canvas and let the atmosphere of the scene guide them. From their small, quiet office in west Shinjuku, “djow” (pronounced “De-Joe”) and “8g” (pronounced A-G) talked about this style of art, their roots and their life. And just as they paint together, they also answered our questions together, even completing each other’s thoughts and sentences at times.

Koe: How did you guys start out?

We had lots of musician friends and were making flyers, but then someone said, why don’t you do something the actual day of the event? So we painted live. That event was called “Free Tribe” and it was in 2001. The concept of the event was “freedom,” the feeling of being free of restraints. We thought about the feeling of zero gravity. We’ve been “Gravity Free” since then. We were a hit and requests for us to paint started growing after that, about once a month at first, many more now. There was a 3rd member in the beginning, but it’s been just the two of us since about 2004.

Koe: Do you plan out your pictures beforehand?

We go to the event location and basically start from there. We don’t want any ideas we may have beforehand to clash with the scene. There are just too many times when you don’t actually know what the environment is going to be like without actually going there. And once there, much of what we do is just letting go and giving ourselves over to the flow.

Koe: I see you guys talking sometimes in the middle of painting. Are you planning or arguing?

Our style is to move forward with the painting while talking to each other. There are times when our ideas don’t match, but until we actually start painting, we can’t really know. We can’t communicate in words sometimes so we just paint to explain and then just adjust when we need.

Koe: Are you aware of all the people watching you?

Oh yes. We are always pretty nervous about that.

Koe: Any interesting stories about interaction with guests?

We were painting at a hardcore concert in Koenji once and a mosher came flying out of the mosh pit right into the painting, startling the hell out of us. The painting was OK but he had paint all over him.

Koe: Do you look at other live artists’ work?

Actually, when we started we had never seen live painting before. It was only after we started that we realized there were others like us. So yes, we do see other work, but we try to focus on our own style and not look too much; we don’t want to become imitative. Probably a lot of the other painters try not to look too much at other work, too.

Koe: How many paintings have you done and what do you do with them after the concert?

We’ve done well over a hundred, but only have pictures of a little more than half of them. We just wrap them up and take them home. There are some installations that use them later, and also cafes and bars that put them up.

Koe: Can you look at your various paintings and know which style of music was being played when you were painting it?

Definitely. The style of music directly affects our style of painting. Location, too—whether we are inside or outside. We occasionally do other types of events; in the past we’ve collaborated with tap dancers, pantomimes and other artists. But there is always some kind of sound for us to work from.

Koe: You’ve also been overseas, haven’t you?

In 2008, Keen had a festival in Portland and so we went to that to paint while Dachambo was jamming. We also painted a mural at the famous Ace Hotel. We stopped in San Francisco just before hooking up with Dachambo in Portland for the SIR (surreality in reality) festival. Then in 2009, we went to Missoula, Montana for a live event. This past February, we went back to San Francisco again! If we don’t make regular visits, people will forget us.

Koe: So this is your life?

At first, it was just a hobby that we kept going. We never thought we would be able to make live painting a job. Even now it’s tough. But we also make goods like T-shirts, postcards, stickers and artsy neckties. We sometimes work on murals, designs, graphics, posters and advertisements. But live painting is what we love most.

ここ数年の野外フェスティバルや音楽イベントに行ったことがある人なら多分彼らを知っているだろう。gravity freeは音楽イベントで引っ張りだこの2人組人気ライブペイントユニット。過密なスケジュールをこなしながらも創造性を失わないところがすごい。優れたバンドたちの音に刺激を受け、gravity_freeのインスピレーションの泉も枯れることが無いようだ。ライブ会場では大きな白いカンバスに向かい、バンドの音にインスパイアされながらどんどん描いてゆく。西新宿にある彼らの事務所で、メンバーのdjow(デジョー)と8g(エイジ)の2人は一緒に絵を描くように、自身のスタイル、ルーツなどについてお互いの考えを確かめ合いながらインタビューに答えてくれた。













Koe:今までに手掛けた作品はどのくらいの数になりますか? イベントが終わったら作品はどうなるのでしょうか?








Gravity Free art spread in the print version of Koe 8.

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