By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – Reading the latest compilation of short stories by Edmonton’s field Basansikis is like sipping a bitter cocktail of hope and despair. Mostly hope, relayed to us through eloquently unfiltered essays drawing from his own experience in addition to fiction and philosophy. Redemption & Revenge is an anthology of 12 essays thoughtful and self-aware to pair with his survival poetry collection Poems Written on the Bus, equally as gritty and honest.
Basansikis is so refreshingly grounded as a multimedia creative and BeatRoute had an excellent conversation about his upcoming books and approach to art in general.
BR: Redemption and Revenge waded through a lot of intense themes but it remained very accessible. The approaches to these themes was so vast and I was curious if it was a conscious decision to do that or if you realized the stories were unified after the fact?
FB: That book was written over the course of a year when I was trying to build my credentials to apply for grant funding. So the pieces came together as they were being written and I finally felt I had a beautiful body of work to put together through this commitment. And as an artist, musician and writer, there are many times I know things intuitively and immediately. And so this book, Redemption and Revenge, it was like, “Oh so this is what this is called.”
BR: Stories like “Math Without Numbers” pierced a part of me I don’t like looking at. Have you always found it natural to write in such a raw way that pierces the reader?
FB: That story is largely about abuse and one person making another person feel small. Unwanted, unvalued or whatever form that takes. I think as a writer, especially, my voice is always for the underdog – people who are pitted against a system that chews them up and spits them out.
BR: There is a lot of darkness in your writing, but you always infuse a balance with the presence of light or hope. I want to know about your journey as a writer, an artist and musician. What has it been like since you decided to share your truth through these mediums?
FB: (laughs) I mean, it’d be really easy to say as an artist, a creative, a writer I’m kind of an outcast. In the last interview I did with BeatRoute, the writer said I was “discontented with obscurity.” One of my heroes and inspirations is Charles Bukowski and he became famous because of his writing and also his personality, but he became famous decades into what he was doing. And I think my journey right now… I’m feeling my alone time has been misconceived up until this point because I decry being single and I struggle with all this isolation and stuff but actually it’s an opportunity for a personal renaissance. Going back to the idea of obscurity… it’s hard being a writer or musician or artist when you’re investing in this stuff and not receiving a lot back. But I’ve been faithfully and diligently carrying on, which is in the end my only choice. At times there is beautiful inspiration, joy and fun and that’s why I do it.
BR: So let’s talk about your music then. You’re stepping back into that arena with a new band. Tell us about that.
FB: I’m launching a new band at the show called Dead Window Birds. My previous band Keep Me Safe was a quirky, nerdy rebel rock project which we invested a lot into it and it didn’t really take off. But it felt like I had completed a bunch of lessons along the way and I needed to come back to life. It can be discouraging but ultimately it’s the decision to answer the call of your heart or not. Dead Window Birds has been happening for just over half a year when my drummer and I decided to move forward as a two-piece. I’m constantly bombarded with opportunities to give up or at least be critical. But it’s diverse rebel rock with a substance that is intriguing and nurturing to me.
BR: Is there a difference in how you feel you’re able to express yourself through the various mediums your work with?
FB: This question is kind of perfect for right now. I’ve been having some exquisite time in the studio making my paintings in the last few days. It made me feel so good. This is the same template I want to have in my writing. To be well in my life and to approach my art with an attitude of exploration. I just want everything to nurture me in a way that is equal.
Join field Basansikis at the Castaway Cabaret January 14 at the Yellowhead Brewery in Edmonton with his band Dead Window Birds, pop punks Nothing New and Saskatoon’s folk trio Raven She Hollers. $10-$20 sliding scale at the door.Basansikis, Castaway Cabaret, Dead Window Birds, Field Basansikis, pop punks Nothing New, Raven She Hollers, Yellowhead Brewery