Interview Sage Lewit
Text Ernesto Hernan
An image of the present mixed with an idea that sounds like tomorrow.
LA-based artist Groupthink has a line into people’s emotions. In an extremely online world, we are in a constant search of feeling something: laughter, sadness, melancholy, or perhaps a mania for running away from everywhere in search of God knows what. “Check-in, booze, change of flights. Check-in, snooze, hit the lights. Check-in, do you feel alright? Tell me lies” he sings in “Sex is a Sport” from his latest EP “Guilty Pleasure”.
What is it that we're on the lookout for? “Music for me started from that place of trying to process emotion and being, you know, pretty depressed, trying to get to a better place…” he says while laboriously applying toner to his face. We, as humans, can almost always track down the first time we take an interest in something; something that stays with us despite our having “moved on '' from it, and keeps on looking at us, from the inside so to speak. Like a good version of when you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. For Groupthink, it started with poetry as a form of self-expression. “It was always important for me to show myself to the world in a way I felt was true”, he continues as he reaches for his moisturizer.
Groupthink takes his own egoism into account, putting himself in a place where he can see himself, not just judge from another person's point of view like everyone else. Emotion then becomes a language and not just another way of loving your misery in spite of yourself. “It's not my diary, it's made for people. I don't want it to just make me feel good, I want it so other people feel however they want to feel from that”, he says.
Groupthink plays on creating “art” as images forming higher virtues. He believes in creating a feel: something you can picture or imagine when you’re listening to the lyrics. It is often said that art provides a window through which to look at the present. Today, with the rise of social media and content creation, music becomes more intimate and relatable. It needs to hit closer to home. “I want to touch people where they live, and that’s within the culture”, he says.
He then continues, “Take Noah Dillon, for instance, – American artist, photographer, and musician – doing billboards in the middle of the desert, making ads for companies that didn’t even pay him. That’s clearly him interacting with consumer culture. It's not just taking a photo; it’s taking a photo and presenting it in a way that’s part of the culture.” Music, art, photographs, poems. All is food for love, and the artist knows how to whisper that moody food to our weary spirits.
He wants to make an impact, to leave a mark.
“There’s a little anecdote, or history maybe, that in the 70s, Sprite changed the size of the lemon on their cans and people complained that it tasted different. But they didn't change the recipe at all. It's not that the presentation or whatever makes it look cool, but it is our experience of it, it changes how we experience things” he continues.
Nature is a strong force that drives insecurities, pride, and superiority in all its ego. For Groupthink, it’s the pursuit of authenticity by making conscious choices. “Everybody is trying too hard to be themselves”, he says. He highlights an issue that’s worth discussing: the “scene” that is no longer about making art, the one that’s about making a name for yourself; whether you're a part of it or writing and posting about it. Everyone is a character. The persona is the message.
“When I’m making a song, I feel like I’m not thinking about anything”, he says as he cloudily finishes his skincare routine. When we live for others, we live for an instant, but when we live for ourselves, we live forever. There’s no purpose in worrying about how we’re being perceived, but there may be secrets we don’t want to hear. The artist Groupthink seems to draw on this notion in many of his songs when he suggests again and again that there’s an ecstasy in discovering ourselves through other people, and the image they may have of ourselves. Beauty, Groupthink says, starts from experiencing a feeling, and then sharing that feeling with another, even if there are walls that must be torn down first:
Creativity mandates suffering in order to impact the viewer.
“Words are the easiest, most direct tools we have for creation, they are the symbols that hold meanings for us”, he says as he scrupulously prepares to drive his car. Symbols are everywhere. They range from letters standing for a chemical element or a character in musical notation. And for Groupthink symbols are things that represent a feeling, something collective, that we’re all constantly experiencing. After all, who hasn’t ever been heartbroken or isolated from a dream?
It is up to us to use art and creativity as food for our souls and ailing bodies. Groupthink finds a balance in a series of spontaneous attempts. As he says, “I don’t usually like to see things in dichotomies''. Let’s take Duchamp for instance, the one-man movement. Duchamp’s way of destabilizing traditional modes of art with irony and satire influences all of our artists to this day. Groupthink’s use of memes, Twitter, and poems that relate to his own human experience, all relate to the same thing: or come from the same source. It all becomes power, and around it is a subtle spirit: a golden sun with an aura of knowledge around it.
It's the artist's job to be a trailblazer, to open new paths to new visions. Each person will have an individual epiphany to interpret all art.
Art, music, symbols, words, values, images. There’s a phrase that’s been living in my head lately, and it rings every time someone mentions music or melodies: “I like listening to music, but only the kind you play, completely unreserved music, the kind that makes you feel that a man is shaking heaven and hell”. We never know what our path is. We look for clues or signs like a form of guidance. Sometimes it comes in a form of a friend, a note, or even a contract. But when that guidance comes in the form of a note, when the light comes as music, it has the potential of becoming the loveliest sound with the sweetest drop.
Listen to his newest single "Peach Fuzz" here | Listen to his top tracks here: