“Dreams are good, we should listen to them more and smoke mugwort”
Xenya Genovese is a London based art student and musician originally from Manchester. She is an exceptionally creative lady with a flare for the beautifully bizarre, soaring from visual arts in painting, sculpture and film-making to crafting some of the most chill, low-fi dream-pop tunes around.
We spoke with Xenya about her experiences as an artist, and all of the various forms her unique creations take:
Have you always been passionate about art?
Can you remember that specific point in time when you knew it was what you wanted to do?
Running up the stairs to art class in year six
Can you tell us a bit about what it is like to be an art student in London?
It’s sweet, lots of galleries to go to. Every Uni is different as hell but I love mine, freedom is in abundance to do whatever ye wanna do and there’s always a bit of hustle ‘n’ bustle…
People say the capital is the place to be to make it as an artist – to be in that cultural centre must be a great environment for what you do – do you have any favourite places or artistic communities in that sense?
Yeah there’s loads of artist communities going on, up and coming bands always gig in London so there are loads of small bands I like that I normally wouldn’t get to see if i were back up North, for example.
On the other hand, are there parts of living in such a big, busy city what can make it hard to establish yourself as an artist?
Definitely, especially as a female artist. (not playin’ the card- it’s just true)
Although changes are happening for females now in the art world- Saatchi had its first ever all female exhibition which was hopeful. The real problem with London is that everything is becoming gentrified, and is slowly losing its art and music culture to corporative buildings which knock down and take the rightful place of these hubs of creativity.
From your notebooks, your extensive work on large scale canvases, your sculpting, the adventures of baby chi chi, to a relatively new interest in animation – please fill us in on the avenues of expression you work in!
So at the moment I’m making large scale sculptures, a pig holding a gun and a cow wearing glasses, anthropomorphic elements to each. I want to make a big assembly of animals talking back in a comical way to the shit they endure.
How would you say your work engages with the external world around you?
It responds to the animal industry, plenty of social commentary and emphasis on reusable materials and also how we treat each other on a human to human level.
Can you tell us about the different forms your artwork takes?
-Whatever I can get my hands on, at the moment i’m doing performances which have all spiralled off from this one performative dream I had.
Dreams are good, we should listen to them more and smoke mugwort.
What do you enjoy most about each mode of expression?
I find painting to be both a meditative and loathing experience. Stop-motion is groovy because it’s a lot of time and effort, but super rewarding. Music is that expression of a feeling in the moment that can escape.
What is your aim in creating more and more art?
To educate and inspire rather than preach and disunite
What to you is the most important thing about creating art?
To be around other artists who you can bounce off and make art around so you don’t lose the juice
Do you have any collections or bodies of work in the making right now, or are things less sequential and more *of the moment*?
Always a mixture of the two, I always have an ongoing practice but the sandwich filling are mostly just momentary ideas that I come up with when I’m pissed/high and then I follow through with them. I did a recent animation that came from exactly such a situation…
You mentioned an animation you are working on for one of your songs – please tell us a little more about “just a song about a pineapple and its journey…” and the tune it will accompany.
Ah the witch and crab.. The focus is purely on the pineapple here, no faces or humans allowed other than their means of transportation. Pineapples travel by human hand…. they see the human being land and kind of go under.
I’m currently making two films; one is animation – stop motion made from clay short film, about people passing on sunshine that lies dormant in everyone’s’ stomachs. Sunshine is the metaphor for happiness, and that other people bring out the sunshine in one another. A happy, short film, lightweight and playful…
Contrastingly, the short film I’m making with Kyle is about two loners on the opposite ends of the spectrums. They are outsiders. Bore wears an orange bucket on his head and obsessively paints yellow objects everyday in his yellow shed, perhaps chasing his own ideas of happiness. But, he refuses to speak, and never interacts with humans. Slush is a wanderer, but a lost soul too. She is conversational, prefers her intoxicants and can be weird and overly forward. The two characters meet at 6am where two personalities collide.
In terms of the actual creative filming process, we wake up at 4am trying to catch the sunrise, and film only at sunrise. We want no other humans to be in the film. It is only Bore and Slush in their own world; trying to avoid the civilised rat race in London.
Conceptually… the film represents two sides of the coin. People who are lost in their routine 9-5 jobs, too drained sometimes to get involved in life outside of work, yet also demonstrates the forgotten people of society, the youth who are reluctant to enter the ‘real world’ where politics has made decisions for us that we do not want to partake in.
What inspires you, drawing from the world around you?
Grabbin’ serious issues and switchin’ a comical approach on them so that people want to take action rather than just look at something in shock/horror and feel alienated.
Lets just bring people together with a cheeky smile even if the world is in social/political turmoil…
Can you tell us about any other artists or collectives you have close ties with whose work you would recommend us to check out?
I do love David Lynch’s paintings. He’s somethin’ else though isn’t he.
Who else inspires you in terms of fellow artists?
Ai Wei Wei, David Lynch, Guerella girls, Marco Evarissti (goldfish in blenders)
Lets Talk Lucid Beans….
How did making music start for you?
In a very private way at first maybe 5 or 6 years ago pissin about with echo and disguising my voice…
How would you say your style as a musician and the songs you create has progressed over the years?
Dreamy and dreamier. I make heavy music I don’t show anybody but the dreamy stuff is all out there. Just listening to other current bands and seeing loads of gigs in London inspires new sounds in my brain.
Tell us a little about your creations as Groobee – the videography is gorgeous.
Groobee is a thing me and Kyle do. We are creative collaborators together. We made that music film “human nature’ in Barcelona. I dressed up as this creature called Verdi who was supposed to be an alien who landed on the beach and we, Kyle and his mates showed me (verdi the extraterrestrial) around. We made the dreamy song together too, dreamy…. dream dreams.
What is the most unusual things you have used as samples in your songs?
Dunno! Tapping fork on a glass jar/ wooden xylophone/ crackly voice on helium/ bubbling water….
If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be?
If you had to describe your art [both visual and the music you create] in only five words… what would they be?Dreamy/grotesque/colourful/textural/layers
What are you looking forward to this year as an artist?
1. showing in more exhibitions around london with cool artists before I bugger off….
2. Moving to Barcelona and seeing what the art scene is like and seeing the best way to creep in….
A big thanks to Xen for her time and beautiful creations!
words and interview by Hannah Dixon