Emily Martin and Derek Baron on St. Francis (Feb. 2021):
What does it mean to pray? To address someone, to plead for something, to welcome humiliation and failure: Please, let me forget about the China Chalet parties, please let there be no countries and no war, please let me love you. Is prayer iteration, or just repetition: My god, my god, my god, my god… To know spleen you just have to be down to be humiliated. But do we know for sure that we are miserable? How do we know?
This is how it has to go. We listened to this for the first time together in May 2017, while driving from Chicago to New York along the I-80 in Pennsylvania, stopping at the rest area that I later mistook for the famous picture of American “culture.” We stayed at a hotel and may have ordered a pizza. Content first, then, content again. Went inside and drank wine in relative silence, burping. Recognizing the sacredness in the plot of Friends. A choral melisma representative of holy Joy.
The dreams of moving through a convoluted space of passages, staircases, open courtyards, rooms just glimpsed past a door. It doesn’t seem possible that you can get from one place to the next but according to the logic of the dream you do. I think this has to do with how each little unit of ‘content’ happens at a different distance from your ear. The holiness of the periphery. That you can catch a shard of history if you only find the right distance to stand from the painting.
But prayer is also like the magic language we were talking about — faith that words do something more than just mean — they have the capacity to effect change in the world, and not just in the like, “words change ppl’s minds” kind of way, but in that the words themselves actually have agency. Form: sing-along.
Eric Schmid on St. Francis (April, 2021):
The St Francis Prayer is an AA prayer recited for serenity. Where there is hatred may I bring love. My relationship to my ex girlfriend Liv was one of the most beautiful relationships that I’ve had in my life. This release is about resolution. Derek Baron once compared it to Deleuze’s horizontal plane of immanence, formally-speaking in terms of composition. What if people want to reinforce vertical social hierarchies? What if I am alienated from society for being neurodivergent and people keep me at a distance because they are afraid of my intensity. People become afraid that I will push their buttons. Liv wholeheartedly believed in my art practice and we had a non-communicative love where we each completed each other in some aspect that we both lacked independently. My experience in the art world was that of being constantly petrified because people ignored and scorned me. What if there are abstract structures which have alienated me, say “the semantics of hanging out” (as Emma McMillan called it) or the art world business standard of networking where art professionals exclude people without clout, but also preserve moral normalcy through tone-policing. I.e. They ignore the crazy and angry-sounding just because they don’t sound convincing/proper enough.
When I look back at my failures, I feel shame and pain. I acted out a lot with different people. But at the same time, the whole journey was a solitary ride. And Sean McCann gave me a chance when no one else would release my music. I think this record speaks for itself. It comes from the heart.
What I realize today is that I mistake my freedom for subjugation. Sometimes I idealize neurotypical manic pixie dream girls because I feel like I am lacking something. I don’t feel validated by myself. What if I try to find the type of socially-fluid people who will help me ostensibly triumph over these alienating structures (through their complicitness) when in fact they themselves merely mimic abject ways of living from their neurotypical preppy lifestyle. Am I an authentic artist? Is my work a memoir of the blind as Derrida says?
What if being frenzied with passion means you lack internal validation? And your way out is to constantly be in overdrive, tireless working yourself to the bone. But what if you have all the answers inside of you? And you are totally in control of your exposure, your friendships, your involvement, your audience, your community, your vision, your convictions, your project, your artwork, your collaborators and who you let in or who you keep out?
What if you were excluded from the noise community because the gatekeepers thought you were a nobody and you went to shows and stood in the corner because you were too afraid to talk to the noise tyrants. And what if they all of a sudden now want to talk to you because you released on Recital but they were still confused about what you were doing because it was too vanguard. What if the art world didn’t give the time of day to Recital except the true heads who knew about Loren Connors, Philip Corner, Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins and Eric Anderson and now the art critics love Recital. What if people in the art world respected my work, but no one in the music world did.
The St Francis list is our attempt to collect what we think is good taste. What if someone can assimilate power in the art world merely for being an advantageous tactician? And what if you made work for 6 years and never exhibited it because you were an art follower and hadn’t quite established your own vocabulary? What if the younger artists unknowingly make work that looks like Post-Internet Art or looks like Real Fine Arts or looks like Alexander Schroeder’s (of Galerie Neu) art collection. What if people are floating like a signifier without being anchored in aesthetics and art history? The St Francis List is our attempt to bring back meaning to this world of ours.