INTERVIEW: Thaniel Ion Lee Uses Words About Art and Music!

Pictured above: The secret portal to the 2nd dimension.

Thaniel Ion Lee has been a force in experimental music and art in Louisville and the surrounding area for years. There exists a symmetry between his music and artwork that see Lee exploring similar themes, that I personally find particularly calming, albeit dark (which I love). As an artist with disability, Lee finds himself in a particularly dire financial crunch, as his primary computer is aging beyond it’s prime (as we all are). You can help Lee get back in the game here by helping him get his new computer, and I encourage you to at least consider. Below you’ll see some of his artwork, which here, and you can check his music out here. I’ll be honest, I had only a passing knowledge of his work before, and I couldn’t be more impressed than what I see and hear here now. I was fortunate enough to correspond with Thaniel, and you can read all about that below.


Never Nervous: How long have you been making music? Art?

Thaniel Ion Lee: I’ve
been making both art and music for most of my life, but to be honest I
didn’t start taking either one serious until 1999 or so. I remember
being a 13 year old kid and recording myself manipulating this old
suitcase record player I had and being fascinated by the way things like
45s sounded at 33 and putting seven inches on LPs so that they will
skip, and stuff like that. Visually i’ve always been into seeing what
happens when you set up situations were the tools and/or self imposed
limitations and/or rules dictate the aesthetics of the work.

NN: Is there a difference between your process for making music or making art? If so, explain that process.

TIL: The
processes for making a piece of music and the process for making a work
of visual art are very similar, both involve compiling scraps of
ideas/sketches, and then taking these sketches and either fleshing them
out or skeletonizing them on the computer. I then take these things and I
either reduce the fleshed out works to its basic elements or I pile up
skeletons until they make interesting forms/ideas , and then I take
those objects/words/sounds , and I repeat the process until I like it.
The average piece of music takes around a month, and the average visual
work takes about a year or more of doing this.

NN: That said, do you even draw a distinction between music and art?

TIL: The
only distinction I draw is that one will be sold for more money than
the other, and that one will be in an unlimited edition. Other than that
I see no difference between the two.

NN: So I understand that you are looking to get a new computer. What happened to your old computer?

TIL: My
computer is my second studio [my head is the first one] it is were I
both sketch out and finalize my ideas. My current studio/computer is
around 9 years old and is currently acting very slow, and because of its
age some programs I want to use on it wont even install, and others
either act so slow they are basically useless or they crash and I lose
stuff, before I even get to save it.

NN: Tell us what your dream computer would be and why? How would you use it?

TIL: My
dream computer is a mac tower with a 2TB HD drive, and a 27 inch
screen, but thats just a dream, BUT I currently need a iMac with a 21.5
inch screen and a 1TB HD. With it I would finish some video works i’ve
been working on, also as of late I’ve been exploring CPU eating programs
like Blender, Sculptris, and other 3d programs. Working in 3d would
allow me to do things such as make mock-ups of sculptures, and lay out
multi-wall murals. Sonically it will allow me to use newer programs w/o
lag and crashing.

NN: What is your favorite thing you’ve ever written musically, and why?

TIL: I
know this will sound cheesy, but I can honestly say that I like them
all for different reasons, but if there was a young persons guide to the
music of Thaniel Ion Lee it would be the record WHITE; it has a little
bit of everything on it, and it shows my full range of sonic ideas.

NN: What is the best show you’ve ever performed and why? Best art showing?

TIL: My
best art show would have to be my most recent one at Swanson Contemporary. It showed what I could do conceptually, and it allowed me
to work with many of my fellow artists/friends. My best show would be
any show involving my sonic blood brother Douglas Lucas/MU every time we
are on stage together something interesting happens.

NN: What inspires you to create? Is it different between music and art?

TIL: Currently
I make art the same reason why a junkie does smack because if I don’t I
start feeling cranky, and weird. In many ways and form art is my other
wife it gives me comfort, and I feel like a lesser human when its gone
for any amount of time. That being said I need to do both, but honestly
if I had to give up one it would be music, because even though we’ve
been together for a long time…..visual art is my first love.

NN: If you were in charge, what would you change and why?

TIL: I
don’t think id like to be in charge, but if I was I make everyone to
start treating everyone else like they would like to be treated.

NN: What have you been watching or reading lately, and why should we?

TIL: Reading
wise, I’ve been reading everything by Sol Lewitt I can get my hands on
his thoughts on the nature of art are fascinating. Watching wise, my wife Jennifer and I just finished both keeping up appearances and waiting
for god…both are awesome sitcoms from the UK and both are on Netflix.

NN: What have you been listening to, and why?

TIL: Lately I’ve
been listening to Artxfm out of Louisville, and podcasts. My current favorite podcasts are the Paracast, stuff you should know, and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe….I’m not sure why I listen to them,
other than all 3 talk about oddness, and I’m 100 percent pro-oddness.
Musically I’ve been listening to a lot of old killed by death style punk
rock, crazy lo-fi drone stuff , free jazz, and out law country music
from the 70’s .