LIGHT SWEET CRUDE | Artist’s Statement


Music, poetry, song; the secret regions of the voice. The far edges of consciousness and memory: those liminal realms reached by the Poet’s phrasings and timbres; a lover’s inchoate whispers. Words and melodies are all tools and instruments, salves or salvos, and, like weapons, they can be directed, aimed and launched, as a direct response or spontaneous reaction; as an invitation or instigation, through subtext or subterfuge.

Before I write, it is often one word that drives me: this idea might then become a drawing or a painting or a poem before it becomes a song. This mixing of media says something to me about the clash or meeting between fields or layers of thought, creating alliances between things, or making them repel and pull apart. 
I look to language, sound, symbols – to words and their hidden and layered histories – for clues as to how ideas are changed, how messages are coded, intercepted, interpreted, and corrupted, when and which things go from trash to artifact.

The focus of LIGHT SWEET CRUDE is the correlation between sound, text and image, and the many and the many ways language can be contextualized, explored, layered, presented, subverted and delivered. The springboard for the conceptual framework of the album was an article I read in the New York Times in 2009 which speculated on the origin of flowers. The original working title for the album was ‘The First Flower’. Throughout the album, I use the manifold layers of reference for the idea of ‘flower’, in part, as a metaphor for the loss of information as a consequence of passing of time, human interference, the search for identity, the loss of innocence.

I’ve been long-fascinated with the history of words, and explore their origins as the subtext for many of the songs. The ultimate symbol of a substance intrinsically steeped in our collective history is crude oil, a substance which is both a symbol of the layering of time as well as man’s corruption of its essential chemistry through a process of ‘refinement’. The term ‘Light Sweet Crude’ is an example of the power of language to fire the imagination, index time, convey nuance, dimension, hybridity, and complexity, putting emphasis on the fact that the role of Art is to capture the essence as well as the substance, the singularity of experience, to tell that part of the story that History leaves out.

LIGHT SWEET CRUDE is an exploration of all aspects of recording my experience, in forms that are aural, virtual, physical, metaphorical and textual: expressed through note-taking, sketches, Javascript, HTML and various computer codes: a distillation of my research and experience into the many ways the physical world is becoming less about our connection with nature and more about how we’re linked through technology.

As our lives become more virtual, the traditional tools of the artist are put on trial; does the physical object still matter? A newspaper? A book? Does the writer still feel the need to put pen to paper? Are we losing touch with our raw, tactile selves, or are we experiencing the dawn of a new paradigm of not only deep linking through technology, but deep thinking through the cross-pollination of hybrid experiences?

— Vanessa Daou, November 2013

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