The Heard of Elephants are not ones to follow the pack.
Preferring to push the boundaries as they create, they created a collective that sees no boundaries. Located in Highland Park, California, you will not find them on any tourist map.
At least not yet…
In other words, if your artistic philosophy matches theirs or if you want to snag a deal to expand your personal art collection, I’d contact the artists fast because once the word is Heard, the possibilities are endless.
nonpretentious caught up with them right before they headed off to band practice…read the interview!
nonpretentious: So, what’s going on? What is Heard of Elephants? How did you guys & gals meet?
And, what’s your role in the Heard? (can I call it that?)
heard.of.elephants: Alright..lets see…yes you can call it that.
So. I suppose in a way it started at USC. Most of us went to school there. We were a close group of friends who played music or were artists or both. One thing that brought us together was our interest in the more experimental, less mainstream arts
All of our bands are not really Top 40 or Indie Rock Starlets..things like that. Most of us have been playing shows around Los Angeles for a few years now and I guess we slowly started questioning things such as the struggle to be a musician in Los Angeles, the mainstream focus so many local bands and venues support..things of that nature. So Heard of Elephants didn’t really start in a day per se, it sort of grew into our conversations of what we can do to make a difference in the music and art scene in Los Angeles.
heard.of.elephants: we started curating/producing shows at different venues around los angeles and started evolving the concept of what it is we want to set out and do. So first we added music and art, then we added live art, then we added installations, then we added music into art space [as opposed to art in music venues] then we added/are still working on the educational/community aspect to it all. Most of us recently moved to Highland Park where there is an incredible art scene developing.
heard.of.elephants: We’ve been putting on about a show a month featuring different artists and musicians. Our shows are never only members of our collective. We always try to bring in people we don’t know but we enjoy/are interested in, etc.
nonpretentious: Also, let’s say I was a super talented artist/musician… which, alas, i’m not. I’m more of a dilettante. But, if I was…how would you recommend that I get involved with your shows? Do I send you my art work? Do I show up at one of your events?
heard.of.elephants: Right now, we’re just starting up so we don’t have too many people contacting us to be involved. Now it’s more of a “Hey check out this thing we got going on, we’d like you to be a part of it” and they say “Oh that seems pretty cool, I’d like to do a show with you all.”
nonpretentious: Is the Heard LA-focused…do you have to be living in LA to be a part of the collective and/or be a part of one of its shows?
heard.of.elephants: It’s definitely not set in stone but for now I think we’re gonna try and keep it as Los Angeles based as we can. But of course if some artist from Sweden shoots me an email and wants to be involved in a show we have I wouldn’t say it was at all out of the question.
nonpretentious: And, for those of us not in LA… do you have a collective space where you work together or are the places/galleries, etc. that you mention [in the links on your site] affiliated with the Heard?
heard.of.elephants: Well, we’re in the process of becoming a non-profit organization. Which will hopefully help us get a space of our own to operate out of. Once we have our own space the amount of things we can do significantly increase. As for as the community goes, Highland Park is full of youth and ideas but there is so little money in the arts [as we all know]. So if we have a space it will be great to see how much we can do from having after school art and music lessons to in house performances and more and more things that we haven’t even thought of yet.
nonpretentious: What’s Highland Park like? I’ll have to research it more – but what’s the basic personality? Or, do you have an analogy?
heard.of.elephants: Highland Park is an area in Los Angeles a bit further east of Echo Park and Silverlake which over the past 5-10 years have become extremely gentrified. I’m sure in about 5 years Highland Park will be far more gentrified than it is now but we’ll see. For now it’s full of extremely down to earth people of all ages. What I really love about it is that it has this “small town” vibe even though its so close to everything and anything you would want to do in Los Angeles.
I was born and raised in West Los Angeles so its quite a trip for me to live here and to never have known it existed throughout all my childhood
nonpretentious: why establish a new collective – why not join another established collective? what makes you different? did you get your inspiration from another collective?
heard.of.elephants: I think we thought it best to start our own thing because right off the bat we had so much music and art all around us amongst ourselves that it would have been sort of strange to approach another established collective saying “Hey we got 15 people doing art and music can we join everything you’re doing?” But since we’ve started, every week I find more collectives in Los Angeles that I dig and think “man how did I not see/hear of this before?!”
nonpretentious: Maybe there should be a meta collective…you can have a scene like the opening scene of the Warriors when all of the gangs meet up. er…, i’m not equating collectives with gangs!
heard.of.elephants: Definitely. I actually have plans to do a massive show getting other collectives involved, but I can’t tell you more details right now…its too confidential and won’t be happening for a while. In January we are starting a residency [one show a month] at the Unknown Theater in Hollywood so we’re putting all our energy into that right now.
nonpretentious:what is the unknown theater & its relation to your group?
The Unknown Theater
heard.of.elephants: The Unknown Theater is this awesome awesome venue. Its in the theater district of Hollywood [not like Sunset Strip or those areas] and they regularly do dance and theater productions. After hours they book the space for bands because they have really awesome people working there thinking of great ideas like that. It’s a great space with a huge stage and one thing in particular that makes it so neat is that when they have plays there they leave the set design up so bands are playing amongst all sorts of strange things. One show I played there had living room furniture glued to the ceiling for the ongoing play. So its a very cool alternative space to play. We did the first ever Heard of Elephants show there and finally secured a residency which will start in January. We’ll be doing one a month.
nonpretentious: Oh, so tourists should definitely check it out!
heard.of.elephants: umm…it’s on this random side street so as a tourist I don’t think you would ever come across it unless you knew where it was.
Another thing I left out is that all the shows have themes
nonpretentious: how did you decide on that?
heard.of.elephants: It makes things waaayayyy more fun and ties everything together so there’s some kind of coherence to it all and you don’t walk into a venue and its just….blah…..art and music everywhere!
nonpretentious: give me an example of a past theme
is it like “blue” or “rats in air balloons”
heard.of.elephants: past themes: SPACE, Mythical Beasts. The January show will be: Cycles and the February show will be The Human Body.
nonpretentious: are the bands on a music label?
heard.of.elephants: none of the bands are on a music label. that’s an aspect we’d love to incorporate into the collective but can only take on so many projects right now…so maybe in the future.
nonpretentious:How do you get the word out to people? Is it a word-of-mouth operation?
(I learned about you through word of mouth.)
[All of this seems awesome but also like a f*ckload of work]. Is this a full-time job, producing the shows, scouting new talent or is this a side job? For all our college readers out there, is this something that they can do when they grow up?
heard.of.elephants: Haha. well. It’s a full time job and it is a side job. There are always things to be done whether its setting up a website, designing flyers, finding bands/artists for upcoming shows, contacting blogs, writing Articles for our Nonprofit and the dozens of other things involved. There are always things to do to hopefully improve the visibility of our collective. But, this is not something that any of us can live off of right now. So we all have to have jobs as well.
As for your college readers. They should definitely get involved in the arts because the arts is what saves/strengthens/improves communities and more.
[WARNING: EVEN COOL BUSINESSES HAVE BORING ASPECTS! MAY AS WELL BE PREPARED...]
nonpretentious: Also, what advice do you have for collectives like yours in terms of management? How do you delegate tasks? Do you have one person in charge of marketing, one in charge of printing, etc.? What works, what does not work?
heard.of.elephants: Advice..hmm…managing it is an interesting thing. I’m…well..one of the founders. In the process of becoming a non-profit we are forced to assign specific positions so I’ll be the President. I think the best advice is to have people that are dedicated to what you/they are doing, work well with others, are creative people and patient and willing to spend a lot of time doing a lot of very menial things. The people involved in the management of the collective are kind of all in different places in their lives right now so some have specific duties and others help out when they can. We have some close friends who have non-profits as well so have some people helping us along the way.
nonpretentious: And, the question that’s been in my mind the whole time… where did you come up with your name? Heard of elephants.
heard.of.elephants: oh man the name….that was such a grueling process. Names are so hard. I play in two bands as well and band names, album names, song names are always so difficult for some reason. Sometimes they come easily and everyone likes it but with Heard of Elephants we all knew it had to be a name that would really stick. One of the other founders of the collective [Jemayel] thought of the name and we all walked around and thought about it for a while and it seemed to stick and all kinda dug it and it was ultimately something we could see working out.
nonpretentious: i like that it’s heard of – like did ya hear & like group of these animals (which, symbolically, have huge ears)
though i never thought about the ears
nonpretentious: OK, well, I’ll let you get going…
heard.of.elephants: yea i gotta run off to band practice