Chad VanGaalen

For a self-proclaimed homebody, Chad VanGaalen is surprisingly difficult to get a hold of. But let’s face it, the man is busy, and the prospect of picking Chad’s eccentric and prolific mind is worth the twelve trips to his voicemail message. When he doesn’t answer his phone, one begins to worry whether or not they’re interrupting a major eureka moment in one of Chad’s many creative outlets whether it be his solo music, instrumental side project Black Mold, painting, animation, or, yes, even sculpting. Add a newborn baby to that equation and it’s shocking that Chad even has time to get his 40 winks. But for the singer/songwriter and visual artist, sleep can be a valued and even productive activity as it is one of his most prominent sources of inspiration. Chad shares, “That’s the beauty of lifting ideas from your own subconscious mind, it’s pretty boundless, and it’s pretty revealing too so I find it to be super honest… it’s usually hard to criticize a dream just because it is what it is.”

Growing up, comic books and graphic novels were one of Chad’s main vices. Looking at his art now, namely the Molten Light video which he drew and animated himself, it’s no surprise that Robert Crumb played a pivotal role in his artistic upbringing. “I’ve been reading Crumb since I was like four. I mean I copied every single page of Zap and all of the Freak Brothers when I was a kid. I redrew every page so that’s pretty much how I learned to sketch properly. So Crumb’s been a massive influence.”

Chad reveals that he “lost his mind” to comics and visual art in general at an early age and to this day admits that there are some aspects to visual art that are more appealing than music. “Visual art I’ve always liked just a lot more because I can work on it wherever I want. I also don’t have to be plugged into anything. I’m getting into alternative energy right now so I’m realizing how excessive my life is, even powering a vintage amplifier you’d need like four hundred monkeys on bicycles going all the time. So with the visual stuff it’s nice just to have a bag of pens and paper, and you don’t have to stare at a computer screen editing. Plus at the end of the day you can just hang it on a wall and walk away from it, you don’t have to perform it in front of people. There’s a presentation factor with music that’s really unappealing to me.”

 

While inside Chad’s music videos exists a realm where artwork and music have a mutually beneficial relationship, limiting animation programs and time consumption have shaped a preference for “creating the animation independently from the music,” he says. “It’s just easier to work independently from the sound. So most of it is just morphological, abstract, stoner drawings. It also obviously is pretty labour intensive so in order to keep myself interested, the morphological animation is an easy way for me to work just because you never know what you’re going to end up with. It creates itself as you go.”

The subconscious mind is a dominant theme amongst Chad’s pieces both musically and visually since he’s often inspired by his own dreams and hallucinations. More recently, however, he’s been delving into the subconscious minds of his friends as he intends to create a sequence of dream testimonial videos. “I’ve just recorded a couple of my friends telling me about their most epic dreams and then I’m rotoscoping and animating a storyline going along with them. I think I’m pretty much working on that project indefinitely, just because it gives me images to work with that I could never imagine on my own. It’s a pretty awesome project to be working on.”

 

Aside from the dream testimonials, he’s also working on a full-length animation that involves a stolen dream machine put on the black market. He’ll forgive its viewers for their confusion since even Chad isn’t so sure about the plot. “There’s this machine that records your alpha-waves onto a cassette tape and then you can play it back on a holographic projection screen that gets stolen and then gets retrieved… I don’t know if it makes any sense. I’ve played it for a lot of people and they’re just like ‘What the hell is that?’”

Chad possesses the type of artistic intelligence some people only dream of as he succeeds at just about anything he gets his hands on. So is there anything this creative Midas can’t or won’t do? “Well, if there was some sort of second Holocaust I don’t think I’d necessarily take part in it.” Fair enough. Expect to see Chad’s work almost anywhere in the days to come, barring any and all neo-Nazi venues, respectively.

[www.myspace.com/chadvangaalen]

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