Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Hisham Akira Bharoocha and I am a visual artist, musician, and photographer.
We know you as a fantastic drummer, but you're also a multi-instrumentalist. What else do you play?
I grew up playing the bass before I played the drums, and I also play the guitar. I'm self-taught in all. I played the clarinet when I was a kid which was the only thing I had music lessons for.
As a drummer and a musician in general - do you find keeping time comes naturally to you?
I think so. I sucked at first and I definitely started playing drums later in life in my early 20s but I think I'm pretty good at keeping time now..
In your visual art, you tend to use a rainbow of colors. (We rarely notice any monochromatic pieces.) Is there a meaning behind the use of color? Or, is each color meant to convey an emotion?
Color adds so much to a feeling you get from looking at something. Everyone has different affiliations to color. My commercial work is very colorful but my more recent fine art has more muted colors as I am trying to use color in a different way than before. Colors have a relationship to each other and I try to make them speak to each other, to harmonize, to fight. It's all about making a certain feeling come across the first moment you set eyes on the work. The mind creates a feeling very quickly and I like to think about that short but powerful process when organizing colors in a piece of work.
Can you tell us about your art and design work? What would you cite as a constant inspiration to you?
I started doing more commercial design work after the economic crash in 2008 as a means to get by. I was doing a lot more photography work back then which was a lot of advertising photography, but those budgets were cut as soon as the crash happened. I was trying to figure out a new way to make a living and my visual art seemed to get attention from people working more in the commercial industries so I started to get more of that work. I kept pushing that and here I am now represented by my agency Hugo & Marie.
I also do a lot of fine art work which if often collage work, paintings, large scale murals, and I am starting incorporate sound into it as well.
I started doing video visuals with my good friend Jesse Hlebo under the name Silent H. He does more of the 3D animation stuff and I do more of the live action shooting. We just did visuals at Moogfest for a certain stage for long form performances by people like Dan Deacon, Nick Zinner + Bradford Cox, and Gavin Russom. I really love working with video. The possibilities are endless.
I am inspired by everything I see on the streets of New York. I am inspired by all the different countries I get to go to, all different cultures, traditions, art, music. I can be inspired by the sounds of a city as well as the feel of the people. All in all life inspires me. There are many artists that inspire me. I have been into a lot of minimal art by people like Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Blinky Palermo, Robert Irwin and the list goes on. I am inspired by my friends who have been at it, pushing themselves. Life is inspiring if you point your attention to it.
As far as personal style, what's the one piece of advice you could give to anyone in the world, regardless of budget?
Trust your instincts. Don't wait till someone says 'that's cool' to do it. Be ahead of the curve. Fitting in shouldn't be the basis for choosing your style.
You went to high school in Japan, right? Were you born there too? Can you tell us about that?
I'm half Japanese and half Indian Burmese, meaning my family was Indian but grew up in Burma or Myanmar. I was born in Japan, moved to Canada when I was a baby with my family, then to Los Angeles. My dad had the usual 'American Dream' so working in Canada was the gateway. We then moved to San Diego which is where I spent all of my elementary school years, then back to Tokyo at the beginning of eighth grade, where I stayed till the end of high school. I decided to apply for art schools and got into RISD and I've been living in the States since. It was hard to deal with learning the cultural differences going back and forth but in the end I was grateful to have those kinds of challenges as I feel it made me more accepting of people who come from all different backgrounds.
What is something that people from the US don't notice right away about Japanese culture?
Good question.. Maybe that the language is very indirect. Often, "maybe" means no. Also, there is no real cursing. You can't say "fuck you" in any way that feels quite as bad as it does in English. There are pros and cons to this kind of language but the same for all languages really. That is the beauty of knowing other languages because there are words that mean so much more than that one word.
You live in New York now, what are some similarities between Tokyo and New York?
Tokyo is a cultural hub in Asia so I was able to experience a lot of art and music growing up in Tokyo, so that is an obvious similarity. Also public transportation is very good in Japan, definitely better than in New York. There is a lot of good food from all cultures but Tokyo is for the most part a mono culture so that's a major difference to New York.
What is the most beautiful place you've ever traveled to?
I loved Myanmar as it was different than any other place I had been. Southern Thailand is crazy beautiful as well. I'm going to India soon and I can't wait! It's the second time I am going.
If there was a time and place, past/present/future that you could go to - where and when would it be?
Seeing the any part of the planet before the industrial revolution would be amazing. To fly over the planet and see how different it really was before we screwed it all up.
Hisham Akira Bharoocha visual artist, musician, and photographer based in Brooklyn, Ny. Aside from solo exhibitions in New York and The Netherlands, his work has been published in Art Forum, V, i-D, Flaunt, Tokion, and Blend, to name a few. His work also adorns the walls of Facebook and Refinery29's New York offices. Hisham is well known in the underground music scene for being a founding member of the bands Lightning Bolt and Black Dice,and currently goes by the moniker SoftCircle. You can find out more about him and discover his work at here, as well as on Twitter and Instagram.