Argentina born artist from Warszawa who is in the process of calling Berlin her new home Candelaria Saenz Valiente, otherwise known to the world as Pictorial Candi continues the visual cycle from her May 2016 released album Forever till you die (Mansions & Millions/Lado abc) with the world premiere presentation of the “Dead Teens” video. Directed by Candi herself with editing from Robert Beza, camera work supplied by by Patryk Mrozek and Camila Arnold & creative animation by Aleksander Makowski—a personal journey out to the western shores of the Pacific waters is transformed to a transcendental eulogy told “Wonderboy” arcade game nostalgia that Candi dedicates to the memories of Carola Fonrouge and Florencia Scalela and what the artist refers to as a eulogy for “our generation’s teen years.”
Valiente elaborated to us over long-distance exchanges about the moving song & video inspired by the shifts of change, both gradual & abrupt that mark the movement of the unstoppable train we know as time:
“Dead Teens” is about the death of my hometown’s generation’s preteen years—referencing our addiction for the “Wonderboy” video game at the arcade. I am throwing ashes of two girl friends who died back in ’88 in Argentina. They never traveled to the west coast and I think they would have liked that.
Pictorial Candi’s west coast wandering documentary-music-video arcade-adventure takes memories & the lingering promises that reside from yesterdays dreams into the practices of now with heart held hopes for tomorrow’s quests. The electric haunted-house pop of “Dead Teens” alternates between classic MTV cinematic videos & Aleksander Makowski’s “Wonderboy” game rendering that bounces between augmented reality applications to a fully digitized arcade game stage. Lyrics like “Brittle Floppy died that year…she wore red jeans when no one would,” flutter about the video’s narrative like they do already in the song where we see Candi’s memorial-adventure quest to honor the memory of her friends & the glory days of their youth in Lebowski-ian vintage-video game where the levels take place in the setting of the western coast. “Dead Teens” itself performances a sonic-seance where ambient tones summon a spiritual portal to cryptic corridors as we follow our protagonist traveling about to find the perfect urn to be the vessel that brings the ashen remains of long-lost kindred friends to meet the sands of the shoreline lapped by the neighboring tides of the expansive Pacific & its connecting seas. The “Wonderboy”-like animation digitizes Candi as she moves from the city streets to the oceanic war, complete with obstacles, bosses, ice cream cones & all kinds of arcade camp that is met with real life footage & other inspired environments. Exploring the song, video & Forever till you die album further-read our following interview with Pictorial Candi’s Candelaria Saenz Valiente:
How does summer find you?
Mostly overwhelmed with all the evil in the world. With the old usual melancholy folded into a happy disposition. Also I might have just entered another 10 years of irreversibly bad hair epoch, but its too soon to judge. Hopefully I’ll be cracking some next level jokes, lucid dreaming, writing a screenplay and new tunes. Loving my lil family and friends. Moving to Berlin. Getting things done slowly but surely, like a mature cheddar person.
What’s awesome in Warsaw right now?
After months of the bleakest weather the only thing truly awesome is feeling the sun warm in the face while we sit smoking a cigarette on the balcony. Trees in bloom. Herds of people getting out of depression at the same time.
Describe the feelings of infinity and the finite sentiments that informed the album Forever till you die.
Shit. I’m going to have to generalize. There’s a moment in life when death gets introduced for the first time and before that moment, you live with the sensation that life is eternal, and that you will live forever. It’s a great feeling, its one of the things that makes you a kid, no matter the age, the feeling of infinity as you say. And it is not completely impossible to maintain that feeling of infinity intact throughout the years. That is if you can dodge stuff, in my case, teenage years. The most dramatic, life and death subjects were dealt in those years, and tragedy was an everyday companion, just going to school was enough tragedy to handle. Making fat font graffiti with the word forever was a way to romanticize that feeling of infinity that we were battling not to loose. Trying to hold on to that word alone against the ominous and very real death was pretty hard. So here is a trick we could have used to both stay true to ourselves and to reality: to still be able to use the word forever you add till you die. It’s an oxymoron but at the same time a reflection of the compromise we were dealing with.
Interested in hearing about Carola Fonrouge and Florencia Scalela’s influence and how the feeling of loss and the notion of losing your “generation’s teen years”, along with those Wonderboy video game fixations have all informed the new music.
Those two girls I dedicated the video and song to were part of a large group of teens in Argentina during the late 80s who would spend their summer vacations in Uruguay. Usually we’d take up to two months of excessive vacationing—the art of vacationing. We’d spend our nights standing on one spot on Gorlero Street looking out for the one. Everyone had to like some one or two, if you didn’t then your friends would help you in a matter of minutes to choose someone to get obsessed with. No one mingled. Mostly we just stood there in groups, paralyzed, occasionally glancing with the corner of our eyes—”Lithium Starline”, the fifth track on the album is about that. On that block there was an arcade with video games. That’s what pulled us to stand there. Our afternoons were spent at the Las Palmas arcade where we, girls mostly, played “Wonderboy” and “Pacland”. We were as badass as it gets at these things. We were completely addicted to them, and were often having to escape home to play. It was around those times that Florencia died in an accident. She wore red jeans when no one did, that is all I really knew of her. But she was a friend of my friends and she was part of the holiday routine. This was the first time that the foreverness I mentioned before got shaken. Carola followed. She was my cousin’s best friend. I think that was about the time when we, as a generation of Uruguayan vacationers, got snapped out of our teen years. Shit was hitting the fan. This album is an ode to those times, musically it’s remembering a sound that’s been distorted through the years.
Tell us all about the making of the beautifully & heartbreaking Candelaria Saenz Valiente & Robert Bęza video for “Dead Teens”, with “Wonderboy” animation by Aleksander Makowski featuring camera work Patryk Mrozek and Camila Arnold.
Sjimon, thank you! I went to LA to visit a friend and there I met Pat and his wife Emily. Instant soul mates. He helped me shoot the video with my 90s camcorder. We shot mostly in Koreatown. My fashion style is, I realized there, a 60 year old Korean lady. So I fit right in. Camila, another friend also helped shoot the last scene. We were on the beach, I was scattering the ashes down from the cliff when I realized there were people sitting below me freaking out that they’re being showered with dead people. Then I sent the footage off to Robert Bęza, old time collaborator and wonderful/creepiest friend ever and he edited it. It’s great. Then Aleksander Makowski, also long time collaborator and equally long teenager-ish friend that looks like an 80s film star, suffered under my super anal finger and made the animation to resemble the “Wonderboy” feel. Yeah, so that’s how it went along.
What sorts of reflections, reckoning, realizations & releases did you find with bring your friends ashes and memories out to the western waters?
Ever since I saw E.T. I wanted badly to go to the West Coast, so both finally being there and doing the ashes ceremony helped close that chapter and move on, focus on the present. Big step. Also I think they would have liked that Big Lebowski funeral. I’m done reminiscing…
While documenting these passages of time & turning of life’s pages; what sorts of creative progress as an artist & human have you noted?
When I understood which percentages of both plenitude and plethora I desired and wanted respectively, then I managed to chill out and have some serious progress. Here’s plenitude on the one hand, a feeling of fullness of the spirit or mind, something you get by being at peace with yourself and others, and there is plethora, another type of fullness. Plethora comes from apoplexy, an organism that is too full of blood. Plethora is over-fullness in every respect. A plethora of power, of recognition, of success, etc will not give plenitude. I like to think of those two as elements [as something] I must work for to please in myself. To completely discard the second for the nobler first was not possible for me, so I had to figure out how much of each I wanted and work with that in mind.
So when you read Matthew McConaughey say Oh I feel plenitude, I never cared for success, know it’s likely to be a croc of bullshit. It’s easy to say that when you feel the sweet pang of plethora right after your face pops up in a magazine. Anyway I sound like an angry troll [laughs]. Poor Mathew. Matthew McConaughey!
Yeah, so I was doing a million different things, I followed blindly whatever path opened, I was driven everywhere but had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t arriving places. Then I grew up a tad and breathed in and realized it’s fine, you don’t need to arrive, but it wouldn’t hurt if you focused. So now I try to focus and keep it simple. If I didn’t I would be doing math rock over a steeple of ice. I still wonder what I’ll be when I grow up, I don’t necessarily draw up a specific goal, so I try to be satisfied with whatever it is I do or whatever I can get my hands on.
Also, I became very proud of being a woman, full-blown semi-recent development.
Other artists you want to give a shout out to?
All female artists in general, especially these women: Kristen Wiig, Tim Heidekker, Eric Wareheim, Louis CK, Miranda July, Mac deMarco, Woody Allen, Marcin Masecki. Hello!
Next big plans for Pictorial Candi?
Touring in Europe this May with a full tight af band. I’m freakin’ excited.