Were it not for Andy Warhol's interest in the avant-garde, we'd have no Velvet Underground and Nico. Had the art programs at St. Martin's College and Leeds University not churned out more than just painters and sculptors, Brit pop and post-punk wouldn't be the cultural forces that they became. Does art-pop patronage still exist today? But of course! Here we allot 15 minutes to some of our favorite graphic designers' pet projects.
1. UPSO (a.k.a. Dustin Amery Hostetler)
Pet Project: Upso's label, Pretend, releases music by Stylex, his New Wave outfit, as well as Golab, the solo effort of bandmate Joel Roberts. Golab's first disc was composed on vintage synthesizers, Casio keyboards, Nintendo Gameboy, and a variety of acoustic instruments.
How they met: Hostetler and Roberts have been best friends since they were three.
UPSO says: "Golab is as weird and catchy as it is haunting. When I listen to Simplicity Banquet' like to imagine it's made by a modern-day version of the Beach Boys, but all with Stevie Wonder heads smashed into one skinny, white dude's body while huffing ether."
2. Andy Mueller and Jennifer Pitt of The Quiet Life
Pet Project: Naive electro-rock from The Poo Poodles, who record 45-second ditties about their lives, kitties, and babies in their basement on very lo-fi equipment.
How they met: The Poo Poodles are Jennifer's sister and brother-in-law. Jennifer was in the band for about five minutes, but due to busy schedules–and perhaps creative differences over the track "Tips are Optional"–they moved ahead without her.
Andy Mueller says: "I know it's different, but that's why I love it. The songs about Freddie Mercury and the one about John Frusciante crack me up."
3. Nigel Dennis of Electric Heat
Pet Project: With an eclectic lineup consisting of Dennis, Todd Miller, and a handful of performers from all over the country, A Lull's slow-core orchestrations are akin to those of Broken Social Scene, Crystal Skulls, Engine Down, and Radiohead.
How they met: "Todd and I have been playing music together since we were about 16 years old," says Dennis. "We have always been two peas in a pod creatively."
Nigel Dennis says: "Our legacy will be praised for days, and our names in stone engraved, always on the tips of tongues, but never ever forgotten. The glory of a victory over everything was one to be celebrated in the streets. Life waited for a moment while the world was in a lull."
4. Will Sweeney of Silas
Pet Project: A member of the band Zongamin, created by Susumu Mukai while at The Royal College of Art in the late '90s. Their oddball-disco instrumental sound features two guitars, bass, percussion, drums, and a large array of samples, keyboards, and percussion. They always play on Halloween.
How they met: Mukai and Sweeney became friends through a shared obsession with dark, detailed comic art, guitar noise, and escapism. Sweeney was asked to join the band because of his large collection of effects pedals.
Will Sweeney says: "The Zongamin band is a unique clockwork quintet masterminded by a shadowy genius, preparing for world domination in a large house in Maldine Square."