Casey Koyczan

Artist

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1)  At what age did you find that you had a passion for art and how did it happen?

Art and music was never a big part of my family, so it seemed that I started appreciating it later in life. In junior high I took my first art class, and felt like I was good at drawing. This continued until high-school where I began training in multimedia with programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere.  After high school is when I bought my first guitar, which was a cheap electric, and taught myself how to play and read tabs. As I grew up mostly listening to punk rock, bands like Anti-Flag, NOFX and old AFI were some main inspirations for the music that immediately began writing.

2) How did your parents respond to your wish to be an artist?

* Laughs out loud *
My parents were very apprehensive about my decision, as the traditional mindset is that you don’t make a lot of money in the arts. Only within the last few years have I been able to convince them otherwise, but the main factor is that they are able to finally realize that this is what I love to do, and what I was meant to do.

3) Can you name any other artists that you admire and tell us why?

Fine Arts: Mike and Doug Starn, Olga Ziemska, Sarah Sze, Anselm Keifer, Chunky Move, Rebecca Belmore, Brain Jungen, Auguste Rodin.

Music and Composition: Karen O, Ben Frost, Jimi Hendrix, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, Tom Morello, Dave Turncrantz, Reggie Watts.

All of the above have had a major influence in how I approach art and music.

4) How would you describe your style as an artist?

Dynamic and Eclectic / In your face yet subtle / Able to trigger the senses.

5) Please tell us about your upcoming work with Northern Sights?

For the music video the concept was to create a shelter or structure that can be utilized for gathering and hunting for years to come. Mason Mantla was a huge help in locating a site in which an artistic installation could be built; just off the shore of Russell Lake near the boat launch. This location was perfect as it will allow people to meet or prepare before or after their journey.

The installation was quite an undertaking as it required a lot of time and human energy in order to bring the vision to fruition; extra steps were taken into consideration for transportation and electricity for power tools that were required for solid construction and stability. The remoteness of the location was an extra step to overcome, but adds greatly to the unique feeling of the installation. One local came up to us in the final stages and said "No one has ever built a tree fort around here before", which felt good to hear and speaks to its originality.

After two weeks the installation was complete as a two-tier installation; the bottom bench serves as a resting place or an area to prepare tools, and the top level serves as a lookout or viewing deck. A few inspirations were taken into consideration for the construction of the installation; the design of the house from the movie Beetlejuice after it is transformed, and various artworks by Frank Lloyd Wright.

For the video shoot, I played a new song called "Fish Eyes" that is dedicated to my grandma and kookums everywhere as fish eyes and fish heads are a favourite part to eat as they are housed with many healthy nutrients. There are many layers of Dene Drum in the song, as well as vocal samples and chants from Lawrence Nayally.

I would like to thank Western Arctic Moving Pictures for the opportunity to present this multi-faceted installation, and for taking the additional steps to help bring the project to its final state.

6) What kind of art would you like to see more of in the Northwest Territories?

Murals, Installations, and forward thinking initiatives that help to assist the development of future art and music makers of the NWT. In comparison to the Yukon and Nunavut, our towns and cities lack in beautification efforts and public art; only within the last few years has there been an influx in public art, and hopefully it continues on with more momentum for the future.

7) If there a young artist who is looking at finding their passion what advice would you give them?

If you feel it within yourself that it’s what you love to do, then let nothing and no one stand in your way.

8) What would you like the future to hold for the artists in Northwest Territories?

A sustainable business model where funding is easily accessible and we help to bring each other up rather than tear each other down. We are the least funded region of Canada in terms of the arts, and we need to be able to support ourselves in a progressive way.

9) If you could partner with anyone in the world living or passed who would it be and why?

I feel like Salvador Dali would be able to bring me the most out of my comfort zone in order to advance many levels with my art and music. Up until his death he pushed for the collaboration between art and science in order to reach new grounds of understanding and acceptance of artistic knowledge.

10) What is your next big project?

Right now I am back home in Yellowknife, playing a few local music gigs, doing interviews, and helping out with the Urban Moose Hide Tanning Camp whenever I have free time. In a couple weeks I’ll be heading down to Kelowna to showcase at BreakOut West, then over to Toronto for the ImagineNative Film Festival where I will be representing my music video for “DÈNĮ / Be Sharp”, which is a collaboration track/video with Inuit throat-singer Tanya Snow, and also to support Mason Mantla’s film “Fireweed” in which I did the soundtrack for.