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Cheap Fantasy x Tenley Tapes on DIY music and collaboration

In the Minneapolis music scene, Jordan Bleau is well-known for being the forefront of the garage pop outfit, Frankie Teardrop, which played their last show in late 2016. Now he’s back with his latest music project, Cheap Fantasy, where he teamed up with video artist and founder of Tenley Tapes, Alex Szantos, to release a music video for the song “Fluoresce”. Per usual, Jordan Bleau never fails to keep things strange and forever DIY.

Fluoresce by Cheap Fantasy

What is the inspiration behind your latest project Cheap Fantasy and the new EP coming out?
Jordan Bleau: Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion

What is the meaning behind the song?
Jordan Bleau: The song is a meditation on the transient nature of relationships with other humans over periods of time. I had someone a long time gone show up again, and a close friend go away, likely for good. Mystifying and bittersweet. I love what Alex did with the video - the footage that he put in (not the stuff I suggested), especially near the end, really captures the feeling.

How did you get involved in making the music video for Cheap Fantasy?
Alex Szantos: I had previously met Jordan while he was in Frankie Teardrop and I booked the DC date of their east coast tour in 2014. Over the summer I filmed Condominium and No Question in a basement and uploaded a portion of the set with an intro and title section. Jordan saw it and asked me if I’d be interested in making a music video for his new project.

Cheap Fantasy by Ian Thomas Miller

What was the process like for concepting and creating the video?
Alex Szantos: Jordan had shared some ideas he had for the project and the song has a really warm, summery feeling to it so both of us knew the video should have lots of outdoor and nighttime shots. I didnt have access to a studio or a clear idea of what shots would look good edited together, so the process was slow, admittedly, but we shot some good footage over two sessions. I recorded some footage of Jordan in and around his house and driving in Minneapolis and then edited it with my “rig”.

Cheap Fantasy x Tenley Tapes

How did you first get involved in music and DIY culture?
Jordan Bleau: My brother used to take me to school when I was young and he introduced me to Pavement and GBV and stuff like that. He played guitar too, I looked up to him a lot. I’ve written songs, played in bands, and recorded myself since I was 14 or so and after I moved to Minneapolis (I knew zero people up here), music and DIY stuff was what I poured myself into and I’ve met a lot of great people through that. I joined Posh Lost (fka Gloss), recorded their first records, started Frankie Teardrop, and co-run No Problem Records with Alex Uhrich, who is also a great photographer. I play in a band called Wetter now as well, and I record bands. It’s really all I do. I don’t know where I’d be without it, I think a lot of people are feeling that right now.

Alex Szantos: I started going to shows when I was a kid and have been involved since then. I got really into a band called the Max Levine Ensemble, who still play around DC, and saw them probably 20 times. I bussed to venues across DC and met a lot of people. I was bummed none of the music I liked was happening in my neighborhood, Tenleytown, so I began scouting out places to host concerts. I wanted to make people go out of their way to come to my area and think about the place differently. I got lucky and found an unused room above a Salvadoran restaurant. The owner, a middle aged guy from San Salvador, shook my hand and his hand was wet and sort of sticky and that was it. A friend and I ended up hosting over 200 shows there over 3 years. I moved to Minnesota and got involved at the radio station at Macalester, WMCN, and started taping shows, and still organize things around here sometimes but not to the degree I did in DC.

Tenley Tapes

Does your work revolve around any specific themes?
Jordan Bleau: Mostly mental health, depression, anxiety, isolation, the way people relate to each other, wanting to give up - sad songs are honest. It’s pop music though, and I hope people can relate to this stuff and find some peace in it.

Alex Szantos: I’m excited about engaging technology, abstraction, and degradation in the videos I make, whatever that means. I think its indicative that I began making videos first when I found an interest in ancient gear. I inherited a Panasonic desktop editor, my AG-188 camera, and two hand-held cameras from a great-uncle in 2010 or so. I didn’t order a new battery for the camera until college, I started thinking about using the camera.

As a teenager I loved recording mix tapes for myself on cassette and fucking them up with screws and magnets to see how they'd impacted the sound. The muddier, noisier, and more distant sounding the better for me at 15. Finding moldy mixes of radio recordings made by distant relatives at my grandparents and recording them onto my laptop was super exciting to me. I recorded noises on microcassette, shaking the recorder and playing piano chords, yelling, and then changing the playback speed. I have a recording of me playing an Alastair Galbraith song from CD onto a microcassette, shaking, playing back onto a second microcassette recorder over and over again until the sound is so shrill and terrible. Doing stuff like that I think is still something I do, albeit shifted into video mixers, cameras, and VHS decks. Jamming screwdrivers into recorders and cameras is still part of this thing.

Cheap Fantasy x Ian Thomas Miller

What are you inspired by?
Alex Szantos: A lot of historic and contemporary media artists influence and inspire my work directly or indirectly. Initially people around me making short films and music videos got me excited to work with video. John Voigt, my friend from DC, makes amazing animated shorts with a little hand-drawn character who explores the world. Collecting old videos from Hollywood Video when it closed and watching them as a kid, finding someone’s stop motion animations, old notes all are things I think about when I make things.

Jasper Baydala, who makes music videos for Tops, was a heavy hitter. The San Francisco band Generation Loss made an entire series of super degraded and saturated music videos for an album of theirs. I tried to approximate the look they had gotten for a long time. Phil Morton, Dan Sandin, the Vasulkas, Nam June Paik, Larry Cuba, Severed Heads from NZ are all artists I think about when making videos.

Tenley Tapes

What’s in your forecast for 2017?
Jordan Bleau: this song (Fluoresce) is actually not on the EP - that will have five new songs and it’ll be out in the spring. It’s called Life of Glass. It's about isolation. best music I've ever had the privilege of making. gonna start playing out live as well, with the inimitable W.M. Statler and Rose. More video content to come, too.

Alex Szantos: I’ve been given access to an entire television studio’s worth of video equipment, untouched since 1993. I’m in over my head but I’m hoping I can produce something good with all of it. I’m working on a series of video sculptures to hopefully put in a show at some point, but we’ll see. I’m also hoping to improve my live performance abilities, mixing and creating visuals live.

Cheap Fantasy by Ian Thomas Miller

Jordan Bleau: would also love to shout out the incredible Ian Miller, one of the most talented visual artists I happen to know. He did the cover art for both singles and he’s just amazing to me, please check out his work: www.ianthomasmiller.com

Cheap Fantasy’s first show is this Saturday (March 18) and details can be found here.

Follow along:
twitter.com/junkiesoda
instagram.com/cheapfantasy
facebook.com/cheapfantasy
cheapfantasy.bandcamp.com
Alex Szantos Youtube
Tenley Tapes Facebook
instagram.com/szantos

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