Vyle "Sonotheque/032c"

Vyle is a multimedia musical and visual artist based in New York and Chicago. Combining visual design and 3D video elements with sparse, visceral hip hop, Vyle is an artist who reminds us of the deep and important connections between the fine art world and hip hop culture that have informed each other since the early days of the music.

Vyle’s latest release "Sonotheque/032c" is a single and visual excerpted from HER COMPLACENCE IS VIOLENCE, a 23-minute work recorded during his tenure as an artist practitioner in the New Museum's NEW INC artist incubator program. The project touches on issues including gentrification, gang violence, economic inequality , fashion, losing touch with reality, witnessing the loss of his mother, brutalist architecture, toxic masculinity, and systemic control. The project is also presented with architectural environments viewable as 3D experiences and visuals, inspired by the music. Cell Vision correspondent Andrew Rinehart spoke to Vyle about the project, his music, his creative process and more.

Interview by Andrew Rinehart

photos by O. Paonita for automotor.io

CELL VISION: Your work embraces a multimedia approach to art that utilizes all of the tools that are available to working artists today. Have you always incorporated multimedia elements (coding, VR video environments, etc.) in your work? Or is that something which has developed more recently?

VYLE: I've been including various multimedia elements into the graphic design portions of my output, inspired by combining my upbringing with CGI, whether for cover art or visuals. But I've been incorporating 3D companion pieces to my music since around 2015, right before the initial idea for an upcoming project of mine was accepted into NEW INC, an artist incubator program that is a part of the New Museum in Manhattan.

CELL VISION: Do you expect to continue evolving in the direction of more and more elaborate multimedia installation type work, or is that just specific to this particular project?

VYLE: I feel that as my output continues to evolve, there will continue to be various works that touch on the topics present in my music- and vice versa.

CELL VISION: It's interesting and unusual to create work like this. What inspired you to view art with such an expansive lens? Did you have mentors, or cool and interesting people around you when you were growing up? Or have you just organically evolved into being such a creatively ambitious person?

VYLE: My neighborhood and upbringing informs my proximity to art. I was raised in graffiti culture in the late ‘90s, inspired early by artists like Rammellzee, JMB, COPE2 and many others, but understood its connection to modern art, and usually looked for those connections.

I came up in an era when you had to separate yourself from everyone else to be noticed, let alone respected. When other rappers were sending out demos on CD-Rs, I would send out these mini-CDs to set the tone.

I've always been around inspiring people growing up in the Southside of Chicago and seeing the rise of independent music there. There were members of my immediate family that were friends with Common and Kanye. Seeing artists like that go from having singles and mixtapes in clothing stores and barber shops to where they have gone in their careers has always been inspiring to me. I grew up when Footwork music was something you only heard in Chicago basements and school dances. As far as mentors, I've been lucky to be around some great artists and gain insight and inspiration.

CELL VISION: Are there any artists (of any genre and/or medium) whom you see as inspirations in terms of your work?

VYLE: I'm mostly inspired by Norma Johnson and the Chicago architecture I grew up in and around- so architects like Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Studio Gang and others. As far as music, I'm only really influenced/inspired by Bigg Jus, Rammellzee, Hans Zimmer, and Prodigy (R.I.P.)

Vyle in a puffy coat standing in front of a gate

CELL VISION: What are your plans for the rest of 2020? Are you planning on releasing more work similar to this throughout the year?

VYLE: More artwork and visuals from "HER COMPLACENCE IS VIOLENCE" for sure. Plus more albums, more pieces throughout the year.

CELL VISION: Are you planning on doing live performances for these releases? And if so, how are you thinking you will approach the performances?

VYLE: I'm always open to performing live, but we haven't yet. When I perform (which is usually at galleries) we have VR stations for the audience to use, at times.

CELL VISION: What kind of music software do you like to use to produce your music?

VYLE: I use an ASR-10, Ableton Live and a host of synths, outboard gear, tape delays.

CELL VISION: Are you developing your music working with collaborators, or are you engineering the tracks all on your own?

VYLE: Most of the tracks I work on I produce myself, but have been known to collaborate on music production from time to time, working with artists like Eliot Lipp, Michna, Passé, High Priest and many others.

CELL VISION: Are there any specific people in your life that have been (or were) particularly inspiring to you while you were making this bit of work (could apply to the music making or video making or VR experience making or all of the above)?

VYLE: My mother and my ancestors pretty much.

Vyle sitting on a bike rack in front of a parked car looking at the camera

CELL VISION: Is there anything interesting to you about the physical locations where you have produced this recent work?

VYLE: Most of my music is recorded between a studio in Chicago and a small studio in Brooklyn, but some of the music created for this project and other upcoming works were recorded at NEW INC, in the New Museum itself.

CELL VISION: When you were in the process of writing the music and lyrics, was there any outside influence that had a significant impact on the final product?

VYLE: This project was definitely influenced in part by current events. The title refers to the fact that there is complacence in any form is violence. The issues we wait to speak on actually foster harm elsewhere, the longer we wait to confront them, whether in terms of politics or social media.

Musically, you could say this project in general was influenced by Chicago the mid-late 90's; namely by a place called Harper Court, a shopping center in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The complex housed a host of various businesses including an architecture firm, a seminal local record store called Dr. Wax, PHLI clothing store started by Dave Jeff and was also the venue for the PHLI block party, which allowed artists like Ghostface, Just Blaze, Kanye West, No I.D., and many more legends to touch the people.

CELL VISION: How do you feel about the state of music in 2020? In terms of: streaming platforms, how music is consumed by people these days, Instagram and other social media platforms, YouTube , etc..

VYLE: I feel that music in 2020 is in a much-needed state of change; although things aren't as simple as they were 20 years ago when it was either the mall, the mom and pop indie store, a message board or getting mp3s for your ipod or whatever. The mall is now Apple Music and Spotify; the independent ways of getting music have grown exponentially now. Hearing new music can be as entry-level as hearing it on TikTok and IG, or as niche as knowing about an artist via word-of-mouth and scenes. It makes things very interesting.

"Sonotheque/032c” Vyle's latest single/visual is avalable at vylevylevyle.com/sonotheque. Physical copies available via Bandcamp and and MoMA PS1 Gift Shop (coming soon).

Listen to Vyle on Soundcloud, Bandcamp and more