When we reached Aerosyn-Lex, he was in the middle of the Mojave Desert shooting a video for OWSLA's new post-darkcore outfit Phuture Doom. Though he is no music video veteran, this NYC-based designer, artist, and calligrapher basically blesses anything he turns his pen, ink, pixel—and now, camera—towards. Over the last 18 months, Lex has been collaborating with Kanye West's creative team, operating one-third of London-based record label/collective Earnest Endeavours, become the Creative Director of Glitch Mob, designed for KENZO and Nike, and even released a mysterious freestyle record on Trouble & Bass. We only ever see him at clubs past the 2AM hour, but how he finds time to go anywhere is beyond us really.
For this short film, Lex worked with longtime buddy Diplo, moody UK producer Actress, Japanese actress Miho Nikaido, and Butoh dancer Maki Shinagawa to create something alluring and mysterious—about as far a cry away from "expressing yourself" on a twerk wall as possible. The video is part of the Random Acts series, commissioned by UK broadcasters Channel 4—other "Random Acts" are by James Franco and the artist Damien Hirst, if this gives you an idea of what an honor it is.
We asked the aerodynamic Aerosyn-Lex (also known as ALMS)—who hails from Manhttan by way of Buenos Aires, Miami, and Japan—to tell us more about the video, his rap group with Diplo, and what he's listening to now.
What is the concept behind the video?
At its narrative core, this film is a poetic exploration of duality, of life and death, of innocence and experience, of the blackness of ink and the whiteness of a blank page. The film is a loose homage to the classic 1965 Japanese film Kaidan, which is a collection of four traditional ghost stories. I'd seen this film when I lived in Tokyo years ago. It made a lasting impression on me and I knew that I wanted to revisit that imagery and this film was the right vehicle for it. The film is a collision of music, performance art, and hand-crafted calligraphic visuals which work ogether to explore an existential concept which I think we all wrestle with, but may find difficult to visualize or verbalize.
How did you choose the music?
I used to DJ years ago and be a serious record collector until moving to New York meant having to get rid of much of my vinyl. Selecting tracks and building mixes that were about building an ambience was something that I'd always loved doing. For this film I shot for the stars and went after the artists that I was really feeling at the moment. I was lucky to be put in touch with Actress (WerkHaus Ltd.) via a great friend of mine who was working at Ninja Tune. I had been in love with the track "Parallel World" and after some discussion we were able to use it in the film. The group Plaitum was introduced to me by my great friend and amazing producer Nick Hook. He was working with them and I was blown away by their music when he played it for me. They also were unsigned so it was great to "break" a new act. With Diplo, we've been friends for a very long time. We both grew up in Florida (we even had a rap group together back in the day!) and this was a great way for us to collabo again.
Tell me about the first time you met Diplo.
Legendary meeting. It was a bunch of kids linking up in the middle of Florida, all brought together by our love of music, art, and just a connection to culture that we didn't really know shit about, but we knew we wanted to be a part of it and somehow shape it. We met at a grafitti show at a small gallery back in the late '90s. I was painting, doing walls. Our dude System D128—who's gone on to do amazing video art for Mad Decent, M.I.A, etc.—was spinning and Wes (Diplo) was getting drunk free shitty beer and trying to dance. For some reason we all really vibed and after smoking a blunt and what I'm sure was a terrible attempt at a cipher we formed a crew.
What did he work on for this film?
He made the introductory track which accompanies the first act of the film, "The Ritual". If you check the film you'll hear immediately that it's not "typical Diplo." It's definitely no "Bubble Butt." Then again, that's not really my steez so fortunately I was able to get him to work on making something which more fit my aesthetic and direction, while at the same time keeping his signature in the music. I think the track harkens back to what he was doing on his first album, Florida, which I actually designed and did all the artwork for.
How important is music to your work as a visual artist?
It's crucial. I can't live without music. I define moments in my life by what I was listening to at the time. I work with music repetitively playing and it helps me get into a zone. Beyond just my general consumption of music, it's a industry which I love working in. I love having friends who just happen to be amazing producers and DJs. I grew up in the club, at raves, at underground warehouse parties, at house music weeklies in the East Village… Music is really a part of who I am.
What are you listening to right now?
Thanks for asking! I'm bumping that Divoli S'vere, Kevin JZ Prodigy… A lot of Slava. Our own Earnest Endeavours signees Darkhouse Fam out of Wales. One of the best albums I've heard all year is a re-issue of an obscure 1993 House record, Dream 2 Science. A lot of people are trying to make early garage-sounding house but this is the real thing. BICEP do a great job on the house tip. Beautiful Swimmers are great, the L.I.E.S label. Still big on Kelela. Big into what my dude Luca is doing with CURSES! and my big thing right now is '80s Japanese New Wave artists like Hiroshi Sato, Dip In the Pool, and classics like Tatsuro Yamashita, Seigen Ono, and Harry Hosono.