Second Realm

Eric P. Rhodes, Artist


Robness on Music, Spirituality, and His Obsession With Vaporwave

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When he was seven years old, Robness loved watching MTV, listening to Nirvana and Billy Idol, and naturally, wanted to become a rock star.

Today, he is a visual artist and the godfather of Trash Art. 

So yes, in a way, he did become a rock star.

We had a truly great time talking about how music inspires his work, his Vaporwave movie script (yep, he wrote one), the lessons he learned from his days in Rare Pepe, and why he uses all caps everywhere.

We also discussed how we’re both undercover introverts, Robness’ high school days, the spiritual energy in his work, and more.

Want to learn more about him?

Tune in now! 

Who is seven year old Robness? And what does he think of present-time Robness?

Seven year old Robness loved watching MTV. He was also always trying to figure out who Billy Idol was and who Michael Jackson was and why he was almost like a demigod MC Hammer.

At seven years old, I wanted to become a rock star, because ever since I was a kid, I was enthralled with music. I was a grunge kid, and when Nirvana broke out, it was like the whole world turned upside down for pre-teen Robness.

So yeah, seven year old me was very music based, so I’d say he’s very different from who I am today, since I’m more visual art based now. If he and I met, I think it’d be like the meeting of two completely different people. But our appreciation for music would still be the same, so I think he’d be pretty proud of me.

Did you play any instruments back then?

Yes, the guitar. I got one when I was thirteen and I was never the same again honestly. That’s when I fully went into music. 

Do you still play the guitar?

Yeah. I really love it. I’d say that if my house ever explodes or catches on fire, there are two things I’m saving: my laptop and my guitar (which is the same one I’ve had since I was thirteen).

Did you ever play in a band? You seem like an extroverted person, so you’ve probably grown up with a lot of friends to play music with.

Honestly, I am extremely, extremely introverted. I know, it’s surprising, it surprises me too. But yes, I am deathly scared of walking into any room with people in it, I have no issue admitting that. 

I try my best to compose myself, but I’m not really as comfortable around people as I somehow seem to be to others.

Let’s move on to high school: How were you exploring music then? Were you writing your own music? What were you doing? I’m pretty curious.

Like I said, around thirteen is when I started playing guitar, and in high school, all my friends were similar. They were all aspiring filmmakers and musicians and we all hung out behind the library. Those years were pretty formative for me to be honest.

I had a friend who was completely obsessed with films and he showed me every movie I needed to see. That helped me understand culture better early on.

And also, yes, I was in a band. Actually, I played in a few Punk bands and even a Christian Rock band once.

Tell me a bit about your obsession with Vaporwave. It seems like that’s a place where aesthetics and music mash together. Is that accurate?

Before I fully got into crypto and NFTs, I came across Vaporwave music. When I first heard it, it sounded a lot like eighties music to my ears. And I kinda loved that. And after I saw the visuals, my mind was even more blown. 

I’d never experienced anything like that before. Because it got to the point where I had listened to every single genre of music on the planet, and this was the first one that was total art snobbery. Like, if your artwork wasn’t good enough, the music wouldn’t count as Vaporwave. 

I love the community involved in Vaporwave as well. There’s still an active Vaporwave subreddit and it’s pretty cool how it gives you the opportunity to engage with the art community. 

Let’s move on to something different. You’re a pioneer in the NFT space, you did music, you’re dropping books… So my question is: what inspires you to experiment like this?

Well, the simple answer is that I like working on different projects. I don’t know what it is, but I just get excited about different things, and when that happens, I like to see if I can do it too. 

It started with music first, then I decided to learn how to DJ (because why not?), and then, all of a sudden, I got interested in literature and poetry, and that’s when I ended up publishing a book.

That’s pretty cool! So, now, what comes next for you?

I’m looking forward to figuring out how to possibly work on bigger projects. I’ve been such a lone wolf this whole time and I’m ready to collaborate with other artists in the space and see what comes out of it. So I guess this is my next venture.

Additional Resources

Check out Robness’ work here and connect with him on Twitter here.

If you want to stay in the loop and learn about exciting NFT artists, make sure to follow The Outer Realm on your favorite podcast app. Do you like our talks? Leave a rating and a review!