Disrupt The Noise Subscribe from £25 per year

Youth Man’s Marcus Perks, on art, creativity and other things

Youth Man’s drummer Marcus Perks talks about art, creativity and how he created the cover of the band’s new EP ‘Wax’. Read the review here.

I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I would spend Saturday mornings in front of SMTV Live, surrounded by cereal boxes, scissors, felt pens and sellotape. I’d create little contraptions and figures and board games and whatever. I distinctly remember the day I took one of my contraptions into school to show off – it was a washing machine, complete with soap drawer and functional door and everything. They gave me a gold star and I felt like an absolute badass. In retrospect, it was probably rubbish – but that’s beyond the point.

I am lucky enough to have been raised by a Mother and a Nan who always encouraged any whimsical endeavour I wished to pursue and always met the results of these endeavours with pride and encouragement – I was never told no. This meant that I was able to explore all manner of hobbies and interests, but art has been the only real constant. I’ve always felt a compulsion to explore and express my thoughts, ideas and feelings with pens and paper and cardboard and whatever else I could get my hands on.

In my opinion, creativity and the freedom to create are crucial to one’s development as a human being – whether that be through art, music, writing or any other creative pursuit. We must constantly question and develop our values and beliefs in order to establish who we are and the second we cease to do so we begin to slip into habit and ignorance and lots of other grisly, counterproductive cultural hindrances.

This freedom of expression and exploration is something that I also aim to put across both with my music and my art. I’m of the opinion that artistic ability is a learned vocabulary that we put into use when we create things – in exactly the same way as we learn letters, words and sentence structures and speak them with our own individual accents and voices when we engage in conversations. To this end, I do very little pre-planning before I create a piece. I’ll have a general idea of the kind of thing I want to do and some characteristics it should have, but everything else I make up as I go along. There are no hidden messages or meanings; it is a spontaneous expression of the thoughts and impulses I have had at a particular moment in time.

I’ve a fascination with the things that humans do to each other and the things the human body can do, so a lot of my work centres around figures in various states of contortion and distress – I’m also fascinated by arcane torture methods and medical procedures and stuff so a lot of that reflects in the art I make as well as the lyrics I write. Sculpting allows me to explore and illustrate things in a much more straightforward way, but it does also feel pretty weird – I’ll be halfway through sculpting some figure with a light bulb shoved into their forehead or clawing their eyes out or something and be like “this is wicked!” and then realise that I shouldn’t really be enjoying torturing this little figure I’ve made. I do realise that that makes me sound like some kind of unhinged sadist but I would never do that to a real human so it’s fine.

So anyway, I sat down with a big pile of clay, some candles, some dentures and some big plastic eyes. A few hours later I’d turned all that stuff into the sculpture you see now. Once it was all set and painted, I showed it to Kaila and Miles. Fortunately they loved it and we decided to use it for the cover of the EP.