Watching videos from Pictureplane's last Orlando show – way back in 2012 at the Total Bummer 3D fest – the images take on a dreamlike quality, seeming out of time and worlds away. In the intervening years, so much has changed, both in the Orlando underground and in the life of Travis Egedy, the man behind Pictureplane. Since that seemingly more innocent time, Egedy has moved out of Denver and to New York, immersed himself in his visual art, started a visually engaging clothing company called Alien Body, become something of a social media firebrand, and been remixed by Grimes.
One thing that hasn't changed, though, is Pictureplane's fearless and ever-evolving explorations of the furthest reaches of the dance underground. In case you are unfamiliar, it was a young Egedy who coined the term "witch house" back in 2009, though his music has always had more akin with clubland bangers than codeine nod-outs. Pictureplane's music has gone through multiple iterations, documented on releases for labels like Lovepump United and cutting-edge hip-hop imprint Anticon, settling circa 2018 on a sleek and very catchy EBM-flavored, dark-as-hell synthpop.
Despite the upbeat nature of the beatcraft on Degenerate, the album is often informed by tragedy and loss. The Ghost Ship fire and the forced shuttering of his former creative home, Rhinoceropolis, loom large over every note of the album. Yet Egedy remains defiant and a true believer in the power of DIY and outsider art to remake worlds. Orlando Weekly spoke to Egedy over the phone about his music and art, and this particular section of our conversation, wherein Egedy went into detail on the importance of DIY spaces and culture, really stood out to us ...
What was going on in your life while creating Degenerate?
The process of making it ... the past few years have been very intense, some intense changes in my life. I lost some close personal friends and the venue in Denver that I lived in and was connected to for a long time (Rhinoceropolis) was closed down by the police and fire department. It's been a very tumultuous time and I feel that a lot of that was going into the music that ended up on the record.
Thematically the album draws from the fallout from the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland?
That event just really hit me hard – weirdly enough I was in Florida when it happened. I was in Miami at Art Basel when I found out about it. It was really intense and crazy. And a few days after that Rhinoceropolis was shut down; that was directly related to Ghost Ship. A lot of venues started getting shut down forcefully by cities because they were worried that there was going to be a huge liability.
During that time too there was a 4Chan campaign to shut these venues down. So all of these people were publishing names and addresses of DIY spaces around the country and claiming responsibility for shutting these places down. Which is terrible and horrible. These are the worst kind of people in the world. It was a nightmare.
I was angry and battling these people online. And they were referring to me and all of the people who died in Ghost Ship as "degenerates." Degenerates of society and that they deserved to die. It was so shocking to me, but it was also like, "If you consider me a degenerate, and that I'm your enemy because of that, then I'll happily be that. That's what I am."
DIY spaces like this were instrumental in your own creative development?
I would say that I can't overstate how important it was. I lived in Rhinoceropolis for over six years and it's where Pictureplane was really born. It's where I started performing and throwing shows and really was given total creative freedom and encouragement from my peers to do whatever I wanted. To be as weird and free as we could. Those spaces just allowed for that. Free creative expression, which is vitally important.
Pictureplane plays Orlando as part of a trip down to Art Basel. New local luminaries Ootheca, Mother Juno and J.A.S.ON. open. A night for dancing.