Wednesday, January 25, 2012

FIVE: Joi Gilliam

“FIVE” is a special feature at BlackArtistNews where five questions are posed to an individual artist, curator, gallerist, collector or art lover. Why five questions? Well, there are five fingers on each hand and artists create with their hands hence one, two, three, four, FIVE.

Joi at the Apollo Music Cafe. February 12, 2011. BlackArtistNews photo. All rights reserved.

If you're familiar with Joi Gilliam's gutbucket brand of rock and soul music then you know she's funkier than Cee Lo Green in a fur jump suit. And despite a professional career that boils underground -- she's only released two major label recordings, one of which is out of print -- Joi's influence has spilled into the mainstream through the music acts of Madonna, TLC, OutKast, Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae. Her brief stint with the hit R&B music group Lucy Pearl brought on a mixture of delight and confusion to her hardcore fans but it was short-lived; the group disbanded shortly after she joined. But that -- thankfully -- hasn't stopped her joyful noise: In 2010 she formed the hard rock collaborative Hot Heavy & Bad with Devon Lee. Listen to their mixtape featuring covers of classics by Johnny Cash, Heart, Kansas, and The Who and you'll surmise them a hipper, more soulful version of Allison Krauss and Robert Plant. Last December, the tandem launched the sale of original tunes through their ReverbNation band page. When BlackArtistNews discovered that the Hot Heavy & Bad logo was designed by none other than Fahamu Pecou (and why not, he is "the shit") we had to get into the groove with the funky diva for a psycha-soula-rockalious "FIVE":

JOI:  Look at that little thing. 

BAN: It's small but effective. (Ms. Gilliam and I were referring to my digital voice recorder.) 
So we all know you da shit…

[Laughs] Actually, Fahamu Pecou is da shit.

See.The self proclaimed...

I’m the bomb, he’s the shit.

So how did you stink bombs get together and detonate the Hot Heavy and Bad logo?

[Laughs] Fahamu listened to the music. Devon Lee and I let him listen to it about a year ago. He was very inspired by it and asked if he could do the logo. And of course we were like ‘Hell yeah!’  Fahamu is an artist [with] hutzpa. He came forward with it: [the logo] is bad assness transcending -- even in death. And that was it. We knew it when we saw it. We were like 'Yeah, that's it.' 
Hot Heavy & Bad logo by Fahamu Pecou.

On YouTube, there are clips of you performing at Littlefield in Brooklyn and in the background images of Kara Walker, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Funkadelic, etc. are being projected. Who curated that? 
That would be Lynnee Denise. I met her years ago. She's a graduate of Fisk University and she's an intellectual, art lover and teacher in [New York City] and she curated that show because she got tired of wanting to see me perform in New York but nobody wanted to [book] me. She curated that show. She's the bomb. 

Do you have a favorite visual artist?

Um, do I have a favorite visual artist? I don't. I just like what I like at different times.  I don't claim to be a hardcore, connoisseur of visual art but I know what I like, and know what moves me.

Does art matter?

Art is essential. Art is life. And insanity.

Fahamu Pecou and Joi Gilliam, circa 2006. From the photo archives of Sol Fusion.

(Note: Joi comes in around the 3:11 mark.)

1 comment:

  1. Are you serious. fahamu pecou is an amazing artist and all, but that logo is horrendous.