(Photo courtesy of Juel Resistance)
This week’s featured artist is Juel Resistance (you may know her as Suzen Juel), whose creative output consists of soulful music as well as dreamy visual art.
Q: When and how did you hear about Second Life?
A: I was playing an online game with a friend called The Sims Online. He told me to check out Second Life, so I did. I created Juel Edison and explored the vast spaces and just couldn't figure out what to make of it. While I was exploring I met another friend that I kept in touch with and eventually I just lost interest. In 2005 my SL friend said, “JUEL, COME BACK, there is live music in SL now!” I told him he was full of s*** haaa, and I came back as… well, me.
Q: What instruments do you play, and how did you first become interested in music?
A: I had a thing for the organ at my grandma's house when I was about 4ish. It had all those fun bossa nova, samba, cymbals sounds, so I'd putz around on it, playing what I would hear on the radio. Mom would sometimes play it with me, she had taken lessons when she was young. I lost interest… at about 13 I found a guitar in my grandparents’ attic, a tiny one. I ran downstairs: “PAPA!” He smiled and said, “I made that the year you were born, it's yours… go play it!” I loved that guitar and I was going to learn it… so I got some books and taught myself for a while, eventually taking lessons until my guitar teacher asked me to sing and play “Delta Dawn.” I slowly packed up my little guitar, walked home, and never went back. I was mortified. SING? I'm NOT going to SING in FRONT of YOU! OMG! That was that. I really haven't put it down since. I also have a ukulele that I love, but I don't really play it as much. I dabble around on harmonica and also have my mom's banjo, which I would like to learn as well. Oh, and I whistle, that's important too!
Q: The painter Wassily Kandinsky was known to experience synesthesia and expressed hearing music as he painted, associating colors with distinct musical notes. As a visual artist, do you ever feel that your paintings are informed by your music, or vice versa?
A: It's interesting that you bring up this question! When I was a preteen or so, I would listen to music, what kid didn't, right? My mom had come into my room and asked what I was doing. So I said without hesitation, "I'm drawing the sounds: this is the bass, this is the drum, this is the guitar," She just said, “Ok… interesting.” I didn't find out until many years later that this is synesthesia. It has had a profound impact on my art and music. I often paint in what I'm seeing or hearing from music with a good bass line, like trip hop. It's full of vibrant imagination to me.
My own music doesn't really make me see colors, more shapes...closing my eyes when I perform is like a putting up the big screen theater, haha.
Q: While there have been many incredible female Blues and Americana figures, the mainstream image of the "greats" of these genres is predominantly men. Please share some underrated female musicians that you feel we should know about.
A: I'm a sucker for female songwriters. Lucinda Williams tells some soulful stories in her lyrics. She's relatable, she gets it. Holly Williams. Mary Gauthier. Rory Block. Beth Hart. They all have serious soul, edge, and guts.
Q: A huge obstacle to gender equality in the arts is the notion that many see female/non-binary experiences as only interesting to them, but male experiences as universal. Do you try to make your work universally appealing, or do you aim for a niche audience?
A: I do quirky little cartoon drawings called 'inkies.' They can have curly hair or long hair and they always have a shirt on. Someone once asked why they are all female and I said, “Nooo, they aren't, they are gender neutral.” And as I'm grinning, I realized that no one has ever questioned this before in my inkies. As far as music goes, I write what I write and hope someone else finds it relatable, I hope someone feels something. I hope people find a little release, be it funny or sad or any other emotion. I tend not to create things to be universally appealing, it's quite personal and very much a niche audience.
Q: What is the most meaningful aspect of the SL music community to you?
A: That we are a global community all in one little world called Second Life. We are music and art driven, we support each other with all the unique gifts we have. It's a great community that I fall more and more in love with every time.
Thank you, Juel. Keep it up!