Opinion: What is Art?



What makes something art?

According to the oxford dictionary, art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” This is not a bad definition, although I think it could be expanded to better define art. To me, art is anything that makes you think harder about the subject pictured. This applies to every type of art: painting, drawing, photography, music, digital painting, sculpture, printing, design, architecture, and even crafts.

Personal Outlet of Expression

The idea that art can be anything that invokes deep reflection, means that art becomes a personal outlet of expression to anyone, not just those who create it. Art is watching a movie that makes you rethink your life. It’s that feeling of wanting adventure when you look at photographs of nature. It causes deeper thought and invigorates the mind. Personally, art is anything visual that alters my mood or mindset. That is what art is. For example, this morning I was watching Treasure Planet (the underrated beauty of Disney). This film puts me in a sense of awe when I observe not only the beautiful scenery, but the flow of the story, the connections made between characters and how the movie itself progresses. These all solicit profound thought which make this movie an artistic masterpiece.

Utah Arts Festival

So go out and invoke meditative thought. Go look at some street art. Go to your local art museum. Take some pictures on your phone. Do anything that makes you look at the world a little differently. If you need some help don’t hesitate to grab a ticket to the Utah Arts Festival which will be taking place from Thursday, June 21st to Sunday, June 24th. Festivities will be held from 12 noon to 11 pm each day at the Library and Washington Squares in Salt Lake City (200 E 400 S). So much inspiration will be present and I hope to catch you there!



A TWILIGHT ZONE: The Flaming Lips/BI_ank

The drive up to Ogden from Salt Lake took longer than I expected. Took a wrong turn getting on the freeway which oddly enough ended up savings us time due to an accident on I-15. I walked into the open-air amphitheater as the first act was already playing. It was the musical project BI_ank from Nashville Tennessee. The crisp June air clung tightly to the surrounding bodies, filing swiftly around in preparation for the first show of the Ogden Twilight summer concert series. Based on last years’ Salt Lake Twilight concerts, this series would be even bigger . Tonight, would begin a spectacular summer line-up with the emblematic neo-psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips.


BI_ank was a single musician drummer. His kit was rigged with a series of electronics, fx pedals, and other unknown gizmos. Despite his obvious talent, the music didn’t truly grab my attention. Songs showed potential but seemed to be lacking that key ingredient.

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips spared no expense in terms of showmanship. They came onto stage playing “Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30” by Richard Strauss. One of the most epic entrances I’ve ever witnessed. Throughout the show, stagehands were used frequently to bring different props on stage. Giant inflatable objects such as a pink robot, a rainbow, and eyes and lips, brought to life the conceptual nature of their songs. Singer Wayne Coyne even rode a life-sized flashing unicorn around the audience, many aptly dressed as unicorns themselves.

The Music 

Each song was an entire production and a different experience in and of itself. Following the opening, The Flaming Lips played “Race for the Prize” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1”. Their first 3 songs last nearly 30 minutes due to elongation and improvising. Coyne made frequent use of his microphone getting the crowd involved and asking them to see along. The audience, surely enough, did not disappoint.

The theatrics continued throughout The Flaming Lips’ setlist. During a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, Coyne hopped into a giant inflatable ball that rolled above the heads of the concertgoers. They were on stage for 1 hour 45 minutes playing 14 songs, of which, only 11 were originals.

The Mood of Twilight

The band left the stage briefly with the word “love” ringing out repeatedly over the loudspeakers. Amid chants and screams, The Flaming Lips returned to stage to finish with “Do You Realize??”. It was a well-planned and executed show that I particularly enjoyed and left me eagerly awaiting the next show of the Ogden Twilight series.

A Festival Newbie’s Take On Bonanza Camp Out 2018

Bonanza Campout 2018 is coming up quick, and as someone who’s never been to a festival of any kind, I couldn’t be more stoked. I will be surrounded by hundreds, even thousands of people, hanging out and listening to music together. With acts such as Wiz Khalifa and Halsey, Bonanza is sure to bring together a good amount of people excited to jam out and have fun.

What fifteen-year-old me is so excited about:

I can see myself back in sophomore year of high school; sitting at my desk in my room, procrastinating on my homework, and indulging myself in synth-packed, indie music remixed by the likes of artists such as Snakehips and Hippie Sabotage. In fact, I distinctly remember binge-listening to Snakehips remix of BANKS’ “Warm Water while I was playing obscure Steam games instead of doing homework. Those kinds of memories I have with songs from Snakehips, Hippie Sabotage, and Oh Wonder that are really making me excited to experience Bonanza.

However nostalgia aside, I have broadened my musical palette since my SoundCloud phase where I discovered those artists. This really makes me appreciate the chill, crisp beats paired with the multitude of different synth sounds and production techniques that I loved so much years ago. Not only that, I’ve also noticed that revisiting artists after not having listened to them for a while is generally a different kind of experience. This only makes me more excited for the live sets.

What thirteen-year-old me is so excited about:

I generally try not to talk about middle school, and I’m sure everyone can relate to some extent. But I do remember that Wiz Khalifa was poppin’ back then. And I would ALWAYS hear people bumping Black and Yellow during lunch. Or at those awkward middle school dances.

I used to listen to O.N.I.F.C. and Blacc Hollywood a lot after having been exposed to Black and Yellow, and while I’m pretty sure I haven’t listened to him since then, it’ll definitely be fun to hear what could be the pop culture anthem of the early 2010s, Young, Wild, & Free.

What regular old me is so excited about:

Here’s where I make a big confession: I don’t listen to any of these artists in the lineup now. So you’re probably asking why I’m even going, and I totally get that. Just hear me out.

Music festivals offer more than just being able to see so many of your favorite artists within the span of a couple of days. Of course, that’s a great aspect of it, but no one there knows all of the artists performing. One of the major things about these festivals is exposure. Being able to discover artists at the capacity a festival allows for is a huge aspect for the artists and the audience, and that’s what I’m really excited about. This is an opportunity for so many people to potentially discover their new obsession, and that’s a special feeling that I love to experience. On top of that, festivals are a place to let loose and have fun. If anything, that alone is a pretty good reason, but don’t get me wrong, I’m pumped to be in that crowd when Phantogram comes on, they’re pretty sick.

Phone Calls Ambiguous: Cary Fagan


Cary Fagan.

Soft-spoken visual connoisseur. Artist. Hero.

More so, one of the most important artists of our time.

Operating under the realm of the Batman trope, Cary Fagan doesn’t say too much. His presence however, provides a deep sense of emancipation.

His Twitter is a database of existential thought. His Instagram, a database of studio experiments and unprecedented endeavors in artistic revelation.

He is the walking personification of the jazz saxophone solo. An ambiguous serene enigma of purity that creates fluid optical trance.

Cary, ahead of two huge landmarks in his career, gifted me the opportunity to have a conversation with him. He was rounding up his third solo show in Nizhni Tagil, Russia and preparing for another, his homecoming, in his native Arizona.

We talked about a lot. From Pho to Jazz to Tickets to Outer Space.

This conversation is part of the Phone Calls Ambiguous Series via STAMM Radio. The experience has been designed around the interviewee existing with the reader/listener, excluding the presence of the interviewer.

Table of Contents

1. Russia: Now and Beyond
2. Arizona Homecoming
3. Chairs, a Fanstasy
4. Fear & Intuition
5. A C.F Voice Memo Album?
6. Polaroid Politics
7. Failure & Wall of Mistakes
8. Ticket to Outer Space
9. The Sacred Spiritual Soup…Pho
10. Tokyo

Russia: Now and Beyond

When I caught up with Cary, he was rounding up his third solo show in Nizhni Tagil, Russia. I asked about the circumstances surrounding how they came to be and his future endeavors regarding the space. He talks being deemed “Co-Curator” of the space, and the prospects of sponsoring American artists in the future.

Homecoming: Arizona

“The moment almost feels as if LeBron left his home team, played for another team, and returned”

While concluding his solo show abroad, he was getting ready for another—this time in his native Phoenix, Arizona. Cary hadn’t been to Arizona, in nearly over 20 years since his departure. He describes the feeling of finally returning—a long overdue homecoming.

Chairs, a Fantasy

Cary grants insight into his long-lived fascination with chairs.

On Fear and Intuition

Cary’s take on Fear and Intuition. The roles they play and have played.

A C.F. Voice Memo Album?

Very very very exciting news… I mean.. have you heard Cary talk? You are absolutely going to love this.

Polaroid Politics

The Analog Connoisseur talks to us about Polaroids; his adventures with them and their place in society.

Failure and “The Wall of Mistakes”

Cary’ take on “Failure” and an installation he’s currently working on that embraces the concept.

Ticket to Outer Space

I was telling Cary the story about Fela’s encounter with Sun Ra, back in ’74 during FESTAC.

Little did I know Cary had his own encounter with the Arkestra.

Cary revisits the rare moment.

The Sacred Spiritual Soup…Pho

Hearing Cary Fagan talking about Pho has to be on the long list of most satisfying things to listen to.

 On Tokyo

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Get familiar:


Cary Fagan courtesy of RELIANT

Cary Fagan courtesy of COLORED 

The Wacky And Weird You Need to Hear: IRONTOM

First Things First: Why the Wacky and Weird?

Let’s talk about the weird side of music. Those random groups you happen to find while surfing the depths of YouTube. That opener at the concert you went to last week. Yes, even that band your second cousin showed you at your last family reunion. The Wacky and Weird You Need to Hear aims to enlighten you on all things strange and NOT mainstream. This series will set out to open your eyes to the big wide world of music. Music isn’t just today’s top 20 or Cardi B‘s newest album. Music should be something that individuals connect with and can relate to you personally. That’s why we’re here, to enhance your relationship with music. Welcome to the depths of alternative music my friends. Welcome to IRONTOM. 

The indie-rock group debuted in Los Angeles, California in 2012. It’s five members can bring serious hype during their live performances. I saw them at The Complex in Salt Lake City accompanying AWOLNATION at their show in March. It isn’t very often I see openers make a crowd go crazy, but IRONTOM knocked concert junkies’ socks off! Their sound is reminiscent of a classic 90’s garage band mixed in with synthesizers creating a modern vibe. Rehashing old musical themes with modern technology is something that is seen in a good portion of today’s alternative music.

Now, let’s talk about stage presence. As I said earlier these guys have serious skills. Their main vocalist, Harry Hayes, is an INSANE performer. He moved from one end of the stage to another putting his all into the music. His hands flailed about the air and along his body with an amazing energy that showcased the tenacity of IRONTOM. The other band members fed off his energy and before long everyone in the crowd had their hands in the air as IRONTOM rocked the house.

From their eccentric vocalist to their classic 90’s vibe, IRONTOM is one of those groups you find and don’t want to share. Their music is so gold you wanna keep it all to yourself. So listen, don’t tell your friends, and I will hear from you next time.

Song suggestions: “Be Bold Like Elijah”, “Brain Go”, “Hookers”

Reflections of a Former K-UTE Station Manager

In the beginning…

When I first started at K-UTE I had no intention of progressing through the organization. In fact, I only intended to stay for a year, if not less. I actively tried to distance myself from extracurriculars when I came to the University of Utah. Four years of high school had been marching band and economics club. I was pretty burnt out on extracurriculars and the politics that came with them, wanting to throw myself into my school work.  As a sophomore I even said, “I do not want all of the responsibility and work of being station manager”. Yet, here I am finishing my tenure as Station Manager.

I felt incredibly lost my first semester of college. Not being from Utah, I had gone to school with the same people since I was five years-old, and I knew exactly one person in the greater Salt Lake area. I had friends and a lot of them are now really close friends. But at the time I felt extremely isolated. Without the confines of a group activity, space, or goal, I did not know how to interact with most people and it was difficult to find people who shared similar interests. I seriously considered transferring my first semester, enough to look into the paperwork. And then I became involved with the K-UTE.

Venture into inspiration

I was always a fan of the Adult Swim series The Venture Bros. I watched my first episode when I was seven, which is way too young to be watching The Venture Bros. But sometime in my junior year of high school, I became obsessed with it.  I must have gone through all four seasons at least five times. One of my favorite characters, Pete White, was a DJ in college and I had always thought how cool it would be to work at a college radio station. When I realized that transferring was not the answer to my isolation, I began to seriously look into K-UTE. I skipped class to attend my first meeting and never looked back.

The next four years at K-UTE

Over the next four years K-UTE became my life in many ways. I was one of the first producers, wrote the first K-UTE blog, and built the Crimson Venue brand. The station became my home away from home and out of all the buildings I spent time in at the U of U. The Union is easily the one where I spent the most of my time with all of the tabling, paperwork, interviews, music, and just hanging out. That doesn’t even include all the time  spent hauling gear, tabling at events, and attending concerts. I could go on, but the point is clear, for the past four years I have lived and breathed K-UTE Radio.

It’s a little bizarre to realize that this is it. I noticed last week when the director’s meeting shifted focus towards next year that my time was up. For the past four years I have been intimately involved with K-UTE, but if I stay any longer, I can only hurt it. Not just because I am graduating but because this station is about to make a huge leap and it’s time for us to part ways. It’s like when your Uber drops you off from a long night out with friends. You’re sad it’s over, but you’re tired, it’s now Sunday, and at some point you have to take a serious look at that backpack full of homework on your desk. I’m really happy with how I am leaving this place. It has given me so much and in turn I have helped ensure that it has bright future. This is my stop, hope you have a good time without me 😉


-Just Geoff


What’s On My Playlist: Indie Rock

I know finals are just around the corner, so if you’re stressed out here are a couple of my favorite songs to help calm you down and get ready to bullshit your way through some final project. If the playlist doesn’t help, you can always cry to the same songs on your way back to campus this summer.

“The Glow, Pt. 2”, The Microphones (2001)

“The Glow, Pt. 2” is the second song off the album of the same name and the continuation of “The Glow” from It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (2000). Phil Elverum’s boyish voice sings of opening himself up to love and it blowing up in his face. He is now left to deal with his own mortality when he would rather curl up and die. The Microphones have a way of making me feel so small and insignificant, but they do so in the most beautiful way. The “my blood flows harshly” part is so haunting and intense and gives me chills every time.

“Oh Comely”, Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

The longest track off the album In An Aeroplane Over the Sea, “Oh Comely” is a stirring ballad that is dark and slow. Most of the song is a single acoustic guitar and Jeff Mangum’s unpolished voice. The melody slowly rises multiple times before dropping back to the sullen guitar barely staying alive. The horns appearing near the end add an exquisite touch. Lyrically this song is so elegant, but its the non-lexical singing during the bridge and outro that leave me in tears as the song slows to a halt.

“Wasp Nest”, The National (2004)

The National begins their EP Cherry Tree with this simplistic beauty. Soft shaken bells jingle in the background giving the song an almost holiday feel, as if you’re riding in an open-sleigh. The graceful guitar riffs and deep lazy vocals create the most peaceful sound sculpture. This song just makes me want to cuddle up next to someone under a blanket sipping wine.

“Bad Diary Days”, Pedro The Lion (1998)

This track is so heartbreaking and gorgeous. The lyrics tell the story of a man figuring out his girlfriend has been cheating on him. Pedro The Lion creates a feel that is like “this sucks and hurts a lot… what do I do now?” Musically this song is not overly complex but the opening guitar note and intermediate riff are moody and alluring. The song slightly picks up in the last minute but retains its overall calm feel.

“Staring at the Sun (Demo)”, TV On The Radio (2004)

This is a bonus track from the album Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes with the full song appearing earlier on the record. Being just a demo, it is super lo-fi using little more than looped vocals. The song begins and is sung through the first verse. The loop suddenly stops, a couple words are muttered and they start the song over, using beatboxing to give it a stronger feel. Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe showcases his range with beautiful falsetto throughout the track. The simplicity and originality of this demo are excellent and leave me electrified.

“Still”, Volcano Choir (2009)

Volcano Choir formed in Wisconsin in 2005 as a collaborative project between the members of Collections of Colonies of Bees and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. “Still” is the re-recording of “Woods” from Bon Iver’s Blood Bank that was released earlier in 2009. This version features a full band as opposed to the Bon Iver’s version which is sung acapella. Long drawn out synths are accompanied by tiny glitches and little dings as Vernon sings the repeated moving phrase “I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind, I’m building a still, to slow down the time.” I’m can’t say this version is better than the original, but it is definitely worth a listen.





Five Tips For When You’re Setting Up Backstage

Let’s face it, we all like to compare and contrast. For me working backstage at a rock concert is the place to be! I love the fast-paced energy of putting up all of the equipment and making sure everything is running smoothly before the crowds arrive. If you’re like me, then you would like to get more than just one gig. Here are a few things that helped me when I was just starting out. For the record, I still have a lot to learn.

  1. Avoid feedback

  • The mic and the speaker that is amplifying that signal should never touch. Furthermore, they should not be pointed towards each other at all! An easy way to avoid this is to make sure that the mics always stay behind the speakers. If you are going to use a wireless mic, then this problem is a lot more likely to occur. Make sure you warn whoever is wielding that mic.  
  1. Check the line

  • Many times we are setting up for a show and all of the sudden equipment that has worked before seems to be broken. Before you go out and spend money on a new piece check all of the cables that are sending the signal. Connect them to equipment that you know works and see if the signal carries. If not, then you may only need to replace the cable.
  1. Drop your gains

  • If you are connecting multiple instruments to a single mixer it is important to keep the sliders or gain knobs down and bring up the levels slowly. This will help you avoid feedback and large booms. Also, if you have all of your instruments sounding good but there is one that sounds like it is clipping or warped, the trick there is to bring the rest of the levels down to match rather then taking one level up to match. 
  1. It doesn’t sound cool it sounds warped

  • This is more of a pet peeve. Sometimes when I hear a DJ playing pop hits, they decide to turn up the mids or blast the low end. I’m talking about those three knobs on the mixer, High, Mid, and Low. When working with music that doesn’t belong to you, you only want to turn these knobs a little bit or not at all! For example, Dr. Dre sounds good with a little low-end boost but not so far that it sounds like the speakers will break. Because you are controlling it, oftentimes one may think that they are a remix lord. But to everyone else, you’re really just making their favorite songs sound weird and bad.
  1. Get to know an expert

  • Now, I’m no expert. I would, however, be happy to do my part to ensure that we can all enjoy our entertainment to the fullest of our abilities. Many people share my passion and would be more than willing to give advice on how to make things run smoothly. Don’t be afraid to do some research or to find an opportunity to learn from those that are more experienced than you. Experience and knowledge are like a pie chart. Just because someone doesn’t know differential calculus they could still know why your five hundred thousand dollar set up seems to be virtually on fire, saving you all kinds of trouble in the future. So, I just try to respect everyone on this principle. Because, if you disrespect the wrong person then they will let you fail. You can learn a thing or two from these old folks. They survived. You could still die young.  

Nothing short of a contract can guarantee a job in this world. Above all else, I recommend finding something that you love to do and finding a way to do it every day. Because if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life.