Wacky Wacko

Lube, S&M and Kathleen Hanna: decoding the plastic pop world of Seth Bogart
By Clementine Zawadzki | Music | 25 July 2016
Photography Sean Carpenter
Above:

Seth Bogart installation

Seth Bogart’s world is one for the weird and wonderful, because it’s comprised of those exact things.  Through two decades the musician-come-artist has reinvented himself time and time again, from the irreverent disco beat of Gravy Train!!!! through his sleazy Hunx and His Punx persona and across multiple artistic ventures, web-shows and stage installations (as pictured below). Now comes his most authentic regeneration yet, no pseudonym needed, Seth Bogart is back as…himself. However, this only furthers the playful nature of his songs, for Bogart is a character of his own. Still swarming through an array of colours, glitter, and humour, his second solo LP – but first sans ‘Hunx’ – is self-titled and in no way self-effacing.

After making the move to LA, the focus on his art began to intensify. Notably, his clothing line, Wacky Wacko, has seen Bogart contribute illustrations to Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent and showcase installations at galleries such as MoCA Geffen Contemporary. The Seth Bogart record naturally became more than a collection of songs, but a product of art in every sense – visual, tangible. Inspired by everything from 80s French Pop to Pee Wee’s Playhouse, the album’s built on a deep desire to create. Bogart is one to surprise, but this fact is probably the least surprising of all. He’s got personality in spades, and it shows.

Gallery: Seth Bogart live at The Shacklewell Arms

GALLERY

Clementine Zawadzki: What motivated the choice to abandon the ‘Hunx’ character for this record?
Seth Bogart: I was sick of the Hunx character I created and I wanted to be myself, ‘Seth Bogart’ But now I’ve accidentally turned myself into a new character – whoops and thank you! Hunx was more punk and Seth Bogart is more pop and plastic.

CZ: How is this album different to Hairdresser Blues in its concepts?
SB: Hairdresser Blues was written when I was deep in a ten-year depression that I escaped shortly after recording that album. I don’t like that album. My new album really feels like me, as I’m blending every type of music I’ve ever been obsessed with into one. 

CZ:  Why did this album take a long time to come together?
SB: Cole MGN [co-writer/producer] and I were writing, writing, writing, and writing. And trying to fully realise our sound. We must have written like 40 plus songs, or at least started them.  There are actually quite a few that didn’t make it that I really love.  I feel like our next album won’t take as long now that we kind of know what we’re doing and what we like and don’t like. 

CZ: So, did the process differ?
SB: All of my old bands always had to record albums in five days in a studio, mostly due to budgets. This time we worked mostly in a bedroom, on a computer, super stoned, over the course of basically two years. Sometimes working days at a time, and sometimes months would go by of no recording. It gave me a more of a chance to reflect and edit and add.

Smash The TV is a song about being tied to a chair and watching your boyfriend have sex with another guy – my idea.”

CZ: How did Cole MGN (Ariel Pink, Julia Holter) come to work on and produce the album?
SB: We became friends like ten years ago when we both were living in Oakland – wow, exactly ten years ago I’m realising now. I had a huge crush on him back in the day, but now he’s like a brother to me. He’s a genius and I’m so grateful to collaborate with him.  

CZ: There’s a lot of killer collaborations on this album, including Tavi Gevinson, Chela and Kathleen Hanna – to name a few – how was it working with these people?
SB: I’m a huge fan of all of them and lucky to call them friends too. I like keeping an ongoing list of dream collaborators on my phone.  I like to write down all of my dreams actually. I’m basically a mom who loves vision boards, dream lists and The Secret.   

CZ:  What themes inspired the album and how were they tackled lyrically and musically?
SB: There are some songs about heartbreak or losing friends, sex and S&M, clubbing, not knowing exactly your place in the world, eating makeup, people’s obsessions with being famous, and lube. [Laughs] I guess I was just inspired by personal experiences with all of these things.

Gallery: Seth Bogart’s installations

GALLERY

CZ: An eclectic mix there…
SB: Smash The TV is a song about being tied to a chair and watching your boyfriend have sex with another guy – my idea. But I had too much alcohol and went a little mental and jealousy drove me to smash a brand new TV I had just bought him as a present.  It’s the closest I’ll ever get to trying to sound like Drake [Laughs].

CZ: Wacky Wacko was initially intended to be a record label. Why did it veer into a clothing line instead?
SB: Because I realised I didn’t want to be in the music industry and loved drawing and painting so I started making clothing with my art on them instead of trying to sell two hundred copies of a song I wrote about being a vampire that likes to blow dudes.

CZ: What’s next for you?
SB: Not sure what’s next but I’m ready for whatever it is.

Follow Seth Bogart on Facebook and Twitter.
Follow Clementine Zawadzki on Twitter @Clementinelaura.

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