C3 takes a look at IKKiCON 2012, held in Austin, TX from Dec. 28th-30th 2012. Hosted by the ever so beautiful and talented Constantine:
This past weekend the C3 team attended Pacific Media Expo – an Asian entertainment convention in Los Angeles, CA. The convention itself was a blast and we had the opportunity to meet a ton of amazing cosplayers and fans! Check out our video coverage of the convention here:
Hi minions! I just got back from Long Beach Comic and Horror Convention ~ an annual comic convention held at the Long Beach Convention Center. It’s a fairly medium-sized convention, which is truly great, because it’s large enough to attract a lot of fantastic guests and artist, but small enough to interact with a lot of people and not get completely overwhelmed!
Of course, the most exciting part of this weekend for me was finally unveiling my most recent costume – Emma Frost (classic White Queen) from X-Men!!
As usual, here are some post-con videos and updates for you:
You can see me as Emma Frost and Angi Viper as Dark Phoenix getting catty in NerdReactor‘s coverage of LBCC:
This upcoming weekend, I’ll be attending Pacific Media Expo here in Los Angeles and have several NEW costumes to unveil (again!)! Stay tuned!
Trendsetter. Label Boss. Producer. These are the things that come to mind when thinking about DJ Steve Aoki. A producer that can never be criticized for a lack of a DJ performance, he is all about one thing. Energy. As an electro house musician, record producer and the founder of Dim Mak Records, and throw in a clothing line to boot, there are no signs of him slowing down. We had a chance to talk about his next album, his on-going tour, anime, and everything in between. Read below for the full interview…
Wonderland is really your first full ‘proper’ album release – can you talk a bit about your inspiration behind the album?
Steve: It is an entirely feature based album. I spent three years working on the album and had Travis Barker, LMFAO; it was very diverse. I thought of myself like a nucleus and everything else extended outward. This is my world but there are many different genres that define my artistry.
Working with such a diverse group of people – from Weezer to Lil’ Jon- did you ever worry that the album would end up sounding a bit schizophrenic?
Steve: It’s a collection of singles and I wanted to make it diverse and not one particular genre. So doing songs with Bloc Party and Lil’ Jon, its all just music to me. They are all friends of mine, and artists I’ve worked with in the past but I want to make it fun too. I wanted to have fun with this album so I just played out the remixes like Cudi the Kid, Come With Me, you know, all these tracks and now were apart of the whole puzzle.
Do you think you’ll continue to have guest-heavy albums, or do you plan to start experimenting more on your own?
Steve: I don’t know, I mean…we’ll see. I’ll be starting album #2 in January, and I really enjoy working with vocalists because for me as a producer, I like to push my craft forward. Otherwise it’s just an instrumental without that extra element added to it, which [adding a vocalist] makes it more exciting.
It took a couple years to release Wonderland, and you’ve stated that electronic music changed quite heavily during the course of the album’s creation. Looking ahead, how do you see music changing in 2013? Do you expect to see more hip hop/house music crossovers?
Steve: There’s always going to be crossovers! The culture of hip-hop is all about sampling beats and rapping about the current state of affairs. They sample old funky beats and talking about shit thats happening now and redefining it into their world. World’s have collided, and it’s now being accepted, so it’s really a whole new frontier! There are already so many different genres merging across and sometimes the end result isn’t a dance record, but a pop record or a hip-hop record. It’s a hybrid.
Within Wonderland, what are you the most proud of?
Steve: Finishing a whole body of work was a big, big goal for me and getting it done was great. There were artists that I love, and we shot killer videos. Having the whole package was great! Writing interesting song with artists and making great visuals is all part of the magic.
I’ve got to be honest here, your tour dates are insane! You once did 18 shows in 17 days, 11 of which were back to back. So I’ve got two questions – How are you still alive? And more importantly how do you find time to work on new projects with such an aggressive touring schedule?
Steve: Well, this year I rarely even worked in my studio at all. I probably worked in my studio like 10 days out this whole year. So, last year I had a different agenda and different priorities. This year was a crazy tour and really hammering Europe. It’s one of those places that is a really important place for dancing music and it was very strategic doing a full scale tour in the U.S., doing 57 shows hitting Canada and trickled for six months in Europe in the meantime. I was doing shows here and there and now im hitting Asia and opened up in India for the first time. [The] Australia tour… I just got off that, and this year is all about touring and studio time. I really focused all my studio efforts on the road so pretty much everything I came out with recently was all on the road. Dead Meat tour bus, yeah, I brought my computer and equipment, I brought my midi and collaborated the fuck out of it. Next year, I’m working on my album so I will regulate alot of time in the studio. More collabs with other artists but I can’t mention it until we’re done.
When you started your label Dim Mak over 15 years ago, your aim was to showcase many different genres of music. Fast forward to now – music has evolved heavily and incorporates many different sounds and cultures. How has the Dim Mak label evolved in the past decade?
Steve: In 2002, we actually put out the first record and that point in time, record labels and the music industry finally noticed what I was doing with Dim Mak. Finding the artists that you believe in and influenced, that was our start in that world and opened doors to working outside our small independent way of thinking. Starting in 2003, things started ramping up and I got a deal with a major label. The album hit 350,000 physical copies and the label started making money. Then we had employees and moved into an office [and] by 2005 we had physical releases. Then, digital came in, physical went out; 2007-2012 was the introduction to dance music. Now we have this plethora of genres of art where different artists and different worlds work keeping it diverse. It’s not about staying with one specific sound. I want to break out of that; future music!
Dim Mak Clothing just unveiled its Fall 2012 collection. What is the biggest challenge with encompassing the arts, culture, and music all into one brand?
Steve: Just take different elements of what’s happening now and what we like and put it out. Some of the designs, we keep in there for awhile because we keep what kids like and wear on a global scale.
Do you have any favorite anime?
Steve: I like Armitage, and I’ve always been into android culture and robotics since I was young. I love anything to do with the future. I’m a big sci fi guy. It’s a shame though because anime’s kind of storyline shows us how technology takes humanity and ruins it but [I think] it’s the opposite. I like the older ones, like 10-15 years old. I haven’t kept up with the newer ones.
Thanks so much and good luck with your next album and the rest of your tour!
Steve: Thank you, I appreciate it!
Want updates on videos, latest tour dates, news and more? Follow Mr. Aoki’s cookie crumb trail below:
Today we sit down with internationally acclaimed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark. One of China’s most prolific directors with a career spanning over 30 years, one of his most recent films is the 3D wuxia martial arts epic FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE. Starring Jet Li, FLYING SWORDS has been released here in America and enjoyed a limited IMAX 3D run.
Hi Tsui! Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! I know you’re very busy right now!
Tsui: Oh yeah, I’m shooting a movie in China [laughs]!
Well, again, thank you so much. I’m just going to dive right into the first question; Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is an epic wuxia martial arts film and it was shot in 3D. I think that the results were absolutely amazing. Did shooting Flying Swords in 3D change how you approached directing the film?
Tsui: Yes, quite a lot. I think one of the things about action movies is the usually you have very fast cutting, very dynamic editing…but when we shoot a 3D action movie, the film is more about space, depth, and movement. This is what is connecting the audience [to the film] and is quite different from 2D movies. So, when I was first watching my shots in 3D, it was be a completely different kind of sensation and kind of direction. And I think Flying Swords of Dragon Gate and 3D has given me a lot of inspiration for my next projects. It [Flying Swords] is one of the most important experiences I have had in my movie career.
Do you find that it is more challenging to film martial arts films in 3D?
Tsui: I don’t think it’s exactly challenging; it’s just a new kind of thing, different from what I have been doing for years. Because, when you’ve been making action movies or been in the kung fu genre for years, you try looking for some new stuff – new elements, new ways to tell stories or to design action scenes. And suddenly [with 3D] you find out that you can look at things from different angles – with space, depth, variance, and the connection to realism. You feel like you can touch the screen, you can see things more realistically; it’s just something different from 2D. 2D, the older generation of movies, has very strong vision, and we want to show the audience the kind of impact of the momentum, of the energy, and also, you know, the way of the future. To bring the audience to experience something that maybe they haven’t experienced before. 3D is something ‘accident’; 3D is something with somewhat more of a sensation of realism, a sensation that you can somehow walk into the environment… So, when I shot the movie I always thought about how you’re going to bring the audience into the story by giving more of the space and world of the story. This is the kind of thing that I was trying to figure out during shooting. It’s definitely different from past, 2D movies. 2D movies try to bring the audience into the story, but not in the way 3D can bring out the kind of things that 2D cannot bring.
In FLYING SWORDS; it stars Jet Li and you’ve now had the opportunity to work with him on a variety of films, including Once Upon a Time in China (1991). What has it been like working with Jet Li for such a long period of time and has anything changed about your working relationship with him?
Tsui: Well, I think, when we worked on Once Upon a Time in China, he was very new. He was not in the film industry very long and everything was very fresh to him, very ‘first time’ experience for him. And after so many years, you know, working with other directors, I think he came back with this kind of experience that was quite interesting for me. Before, he always was ‘curious’ about where we were going, and now he’s telling a story that I think is very interesting because he’s telling it in his way of looking at things. It’s a quite different experience I shared with him this time; I think that he’s more mature and also, when we shoot his character [in the movie], I feel like he’s more like the actual person, a character who has gone through a lot in life. So, before, we were shooting like a kid, very new in the world, and now we’re shooting a very mature person – a mature master – because now I think he has a lot of experience in action and experience in film. He’s a very philosophical guy; he always tells me a lot about his philosophy about movie making and what can be done in the industry. I think he’s more experienced and more mature now. I really enjoy collaborations with him and I’m really looking forward to working with him again.
Even though now you’re working more with 3D, you were also involved in A CHINESE GHOST STORY, which was Hong Kong’s first animated feature film. How did you get involved in that project?
Tsui: The animation? Oh, that was a long time ago, like 1997 [laughs]! We’d been waiting for animation to come into our industry for a while, and I felt like nobody was doing animation film in the industry. Especially when I saw [animation] films from other places, I felt like we should try to do animation sometime, by someone. So, that is how I started working on A Chinese Ghost Story. During that period of time, I don’t think anybody was doing Hong Kong animation in the industry, so we actually had to train people to get them to do animation.
I can’t resist asking you this question; what are some of your favorite Asian films?
Tsui: Oh I have a lot of favorite Asian films! One of my favorite is DRAGON GATE, which I was paying homage to [in FLYING SWORDS] because it was one of the movies that attracted me to the film industry.
Recently, Asian media – including films, TV, and animations – has really exploded in popularity in the West. What do you think it is about wuxia films, or Asian films in general, that appeals so strongly to Western audiences?
Tsui: I think the wuxia genre has several interesting points that are quite different from movies from other cultures. One of the things is that we have a certain style of fundamentalism. This fundamentalism is a kind of Chinese philosophy or Chinese kind of oriental concept of human interaction and relationships. It’s very different from other cultures. So has become one of the interesting elements that attract people who have this kind of feeling towards this romanticism… Another thing, I think wuxia has very wonderful movement. A lot of people say it’s a ‘dance,’ but I hate the idea talking about wuxia as a dance, [though] it is very beautiful to watch. Then, there is the technique of [martial arts] training and feeling; it’s kind of an interesting combination of violence and action with the artistic performance. It’s not like fist fighting or like actual fighting, it is fighting with poise and wonderful body movement. So this is one of the things we always want to watch in wuxia movies because we enjoy seeing people doing these wonderful movements on the screen. We feel like this has a kind of excitement because the impact of the movement creates a result of drama that is quite unique in the language of film. I think that the characters are also quite wonderful; basically wuxia movies have people with very attractive personalities. They have a certain charm of being bad or being brave or being romantic. The way to express this element is…we sort of come out from the hidden side of our culture. And this is always so attractive to others because we sort of relate it to our very basic internal instincts. I was very amazed by the fact that actually this kind of thing can also be shared by people outside of Chinese culture. I was really amazed, when we made A Chinese Ghost Story, I was amazed that this kind of movie can be viewed by a Western audience with the same kind of appreciation and attitude. Since then, I’ve really found that we can have an overlap and aesthetic area where we can share things, like a sense of romanticism or a language that may not be verbal but an emotion or passion that can be reflected from the wuxia genre. I imagine this is kind of the attraction to Western audiences.
One final question, what are the upcoming projects you are working on and are you going to be making any more 3D films?
Tsui: I’m making a prequel to Detective Dee, which is a detective who started his career at a young age. This movie is in 3D because, actually, the first Detective Dee is the movie that put me on the doorway to look for the entrance to 3D technique. This is especially something that I definitely want to try to make 3D because the amazing images from the story can create a wonderful 3D effect.
Well, it’s definitely a very exciting time in Hong Kong filmmaking and thank you so much for sitting down and talking with us.
Tsui: Thank you so much, it’s a pleasure.
Constantine and Angi take on Alex and Jon in a drinking death match, Dead or Alive style. Featuring boobs, arm wrestling and Gangnam Style.
Got any questions, comments, or feedback for Constantine? Leave them below in the comment section and she will answer/address them in the next episode!
C^3 Convention Coverage travel to the LA Convention Center where hosts Constantine and Angi visit Comikaze in it’s second year, September 15-16, 2012.
At this point you may be wondering what C^3 is all about and that notion will become clearer as we start to unveil more segments within our channel. C^3 is our YouTube channel devoted to daily news and convention coverage about cosplay and entertainment hosted by Constantine.
In the first episode of ‘Taking Shots with Cosplayers’, Constantine and Angi share a nerdy shot recipe and answer your questions! Watch as their drunken shenanigans deteriorate into boobs and Bruno Mars.
Got any questions, comments, or feedback for Constantine? Leave them below in the comment section and she will answer/address them in the next episode!
Anne Akiko Meyers is celebrated as one of the world’s premier concert violinists. She regularly performs as featured soloist with orchestras around the world, including the Boston Symphony, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, and the Warsaw Philharmonic. Over the years, Meyers has collaborated with pop singing sensation, Il Divo, top jazz artists such as Chris Botti, and Wynton Marsalis. To put it simply, she is a superstar. Recently, she released a new album entitled ‘Air: The Bach Album’ which Anne performs on the ‘Ex-Napoleon/Molitor’ Stradivarius violin from 1697 and the ‘Royal Spanish’ Stradivarius violin dated 1730. Anne took some time out of her schedule to sit down with me and answer a few questions about music, her daughters, and some exciting upcoming projects.
Earlier this year, you released a new album ‘Air: The Bach Album.’ Can you tell us a bit about this album? For those who are both new to your music and old time listeners, what was your creative process?
AAM: [Laughs] Oh my god, that’s many questions within one question, that’s unfair! The Air is a really fun album and it has the A minor and E major solo violin concertos as well as the double violin concerto and three beautiful pieces including the Largo, that’s from the harpsichord concerto #6, and Air, which is from the orchestral suite #3, and the Ave Maria. It just sort of ended the album with a ‘thank you’ to Bach since he worked so much in the church writing music every week. The twist with the album is that with the double concerto, I recorded both parts on two different Stradivarius violins. I just thought it was so perfectly suitable as I recently required the ex-Molitor or Napoleon Stradivarius violin.
That was actually something I was going to ask you about this album. There are only about 150 Stradivari violins in the world and I know they are incredibly rare and expensive. But what exactly is it about these violins that make them so special?
AAM: Well, Strad made about 600 violins and I would say that there are maybe 100 that are really truly extraordinary that are also in great condition. It’s just phenomenal that these violins that are antiques are relied upon on a daily basis with modern performers. All of these violins were made over 300 years ago. I can’t think of any other profession that uses and relies so heavily on antique instruments…or antique anything, for that matter. It’s extraordinary because of the history – the provenance surrounding each violin. I mean, you just don’t know what it has survived, how many families have owned it, important celebrities, wars it has survived, wet cellars….you know, just so much history it has survived. But the tone of the violins is extraordinary. It’s like you go to hall and you can sit in the last seat, the last row of a 2500 seat hall, and you can play pianissimo – or ultra ultra quietly – on stage and it will still tickle your ears. The expression and color coming from the violin will just caress you. That kind of power – even though these violins were made at a time when they weren’t even performed in these giant concert halls – the irony involved is just amazing.
Considering these changes, do you feel that you would play a Stradivari violin differently than you would a modern violin?
AAM: Definitely. When you get a Strad, you’re getting an old shoe that is just a comfortable fit. On top of that, a lot of these violins have been hidden under beds, or in museums, or just put away for so long, that when it’s in a performer’s hands, such as mine, it just opens up so extraordinarily. It’s like you’ve just uncorked this phenomenal bottle of wine and the longer it decants, the more you can smell of the wine. It’s a similar metaphor with the violin – the more you play it, the more you break it in, the more color that comes from the violin and from the tone quality.
Another thing I noticed about Air is that it was released on Valentine’s Day. Was there a reason for that release date?
AAM: Yeah, we were thinking that Bach is so much about a reflection of life and life going full circle. I was due to have my second baby girl in March and was just thinking, “Wow, Bach had 20 children of his own, none have survived.” The Bach name hasn’t survived, which is really a great tragedy. But, there’s just so much in his music, so many layers that makes it so profound. I thought with that much showing of love of life, it was just the perfect opportunity to release it on Valentine’s Day.
You actually started playing music quite early; I believe you were about 4 years old. Do you think your own children, like your daughter Natalie, will be starting this young as well?
AAM: Well, I started physically when I was about 4, but my mother played a lot of music for me when she was pregnant with me. I really do think that there is a deep resonance with babies’ brains and how, you might not just be playing the violin, but to even feel the vibrations of music when you’re pregnant. Natalie, my first born, it was just unbelievable because every day I would start with my scales, and after she was born, as I would play my scales, she immediately looked at me like, “I know those scales!” I was like “Wow, that is just so wild.” She is now two years old and just loves holding a violin and cello. I definitely am going to start her on violin lessons now because she just shows such a love for it. I think it is incredibly important for mothers to be able to play music for their children.
That’s amazing. I do know that to appreciate classical music, it really does require a lot of active and critical thinking. For people who don’t have much experience with listening to classical music, do you have any advice on how to listen to or appreciate it?
AAM: No, everybody is a critic and I think that when – especially when I’m so deeply involved in music – sometimes it is just so nice to listen to it passively and not criticize every little thing. When I’m driving, I have the radio set to every classical station – whether it’s on Sirius XM or locally on NPR – and that way I’m listening to it passively and it relaxes me. I think that there is no correct way to listen to music, especially classical music. You just turn it on! Putting it on, I think that’s the first step to just enjoying it. I think that’s the most important thing, that you actually enjoy it.
Do you feel the knowledge of Chamber music is an important ingredient in expanding your palette as a musician?
AAM: Definitely, I am very thankful to my teachers, Alice and Elenore Schonfeld in Los Angeles, who found it a very important part of my training. To be seven years old and put suddenly into a trio or quartet was just awesome because the kids were also my age. So, you have somebody to actually practice and play with and you’re creating something together without even realizing how much its bringing you together.
I noticed that you’re actually giving away a very special bow via your FB page.
AAM: Well, I just have a bunch of these Arcus bows and I started to feel a little guilty for not using all of them. I just thought that this would be the prefect opportunity to give away one bow to, hopefully, a violinist. A lot of people have entered the contest who aren’t professional violinists, but in order to use the bow a lot – which I would really prefer – it has to go to somebody who is studying seriously and can appreciate the bow. The Arcus is a little different to use than most bows because it is a carbon fiber bow. Because it’s carbon fiber it is extremely light. So, to use this bow and appreciate all of its uniqueness, you have to really be able to control your bow arm greatly.
Is speed one of the primary advantages this bow would give to a violin player, because of its light weight?
AAM: Absolutely. It’s unreal; its just like rapid fire. The staccato just flies off, it’s like it does it for itself. It’s amazing. It’s like a chopped salad, a Ginsu knife; here I come!
Do you have any favorite Asian or Asian-American composers or musicians?
AAM: I’ve actually worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto. He was very enamored with the classical genre, so we played ‘Smile’ together for the tsunami benefit in New York. I’ve played a lot of music by Toru Takemitsu, as well as Somei Satoh. I just really adore that music so much. Takemitsu has done so many film scores that are so eerie and cool. There is a spatial quality to his music that is extraordinary. You really feel like you’re walking through a Japanese garden when you play his music, because it’s just so scientific. I just commissioned [Somei Satoh] to write another violin/piano piece which I’m eagerly awaiting right now. I also asked Makoto Ozone, who is a phenomenal jazz pianist, to arrange ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ which I recorded on the ‘Smile’ album. He was just amazing, I’ve always just drooled to have an arrangement of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ I asked him and he just jotted it down on some music paper and now I play it all the time. He’s just such a huge talent.
Finally, what can people expect from your upcoming tour dates? Are there any surprises?
AAM: Right now I’m thick in the middle of working on a new concerto by this young composer named Mason Bates. But, actually, for this concerto he will not be using any electronica, he decided to forgo against it. I’m going to be premièring it with the Pittsburgh Symphony in December and then taking it to Nashville in the spring. It’s really…a very difficult piece and I’m just in the middle of trying to figure it out. It’s like putting a two million piece puzzle together. Right before that, in December, I’ll be playing at Carnegie Hall in New York and I’ll be playing the [Samuel] Barber violin concerto which I would say is one of my signature pieces that I absolutely just love, love, love to play. I’m really looking forward to playing that with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. So I’ll be basically leading the orchestra in through this gnarly third movement. That will be a lot of fun – December 1st!
Buy the new album NOW on iTunes
Special thanks to:
Rebecca Davis Public Relations – http://rebeccadavispr.com/
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