Anyone familiar with the art of Steve Keene knows that he makes paintings for the masses: “I want buying my paintings to be like buying a CD: it’s cheap, it’s art and it changes your life, but the object has no status. Musicians create something for the moment, something with no boundaries and that kind of expansiveness is what I want to come across in my work.”
You might even be the proud owner of some of Keene’s art (or reproductions of it anyway), as he has graced album covers for the like of Silver Jews, Pavement, The Apples in Stereo, Soul Coughing, and Dave Matthews Band. J. Sauder of Venus Sans Fur has been a longtime fan of Keene’s, too: “I already owned a couple works – an über rare 2-sided LP cover for the Apples in stereo and a painting of the last (Stephen Malkmus and the) Jicks album cover – when I bought a set of four Pavement paintings from Keene on eBay.” While working on his own music, Sauder says that Keene was an inspiration: “I decided to work like him and bang a tune off in a day. If he can do 100 large and beautiful paintings in a day, surely I can record one song. So I did.”
After sending him a sample of Venus San Fur’s music, Keene returned the admiration, and agreed to send footage of him at work for the video of the song which eventually became “Steve Paints A Lot”. “I couldn’t help but think the song was missing a little something, but I struggled to figure out what,” says Sauder of the burgeoning collaboration he found himself part of, so “I decided to ask Bob Nastanovich (of Pavement) if he’d be willing to contribute. I almost fainted when he replied yes.”
Working Nastanovich’s bit into the song sealed the deal. Using Keene’s footage, and video Sauder shot on a recent trip to Victoria, the finished product is a multidisciplinary collaboration of the finest order and also introduces a new talent, too: “My seven year old, Darien, did the intro sequence and was completely thrilled that Bob and Steve would see it. Working with two guys I admire greatly has been the greatest thing ever to happen to me musically.”
The finished video makes its YouTube debut today (see the embed above) , and the MP3 of “Steve Paints A Lot” is only available here (for now). It is one hot mess of a track, with swirling psychedelic touches, hypnotic rhythms and subliminal messages of the freaky kind. In a word: wicked.