Alex/2Tone, up-and-coming director of the moment, has taken what he calls ‘a non-linear path.’ The Los Angeles based film school dropout has worn many hats, among them; graffitist, tattooist, writer, clothing company art director and entrepreneur. These days, he’s directing videos for Iggy Azalea, Danny Brown, Kid Sister and Far East Movement, while keeping up with his cheeky tumblr blog What You Steal. As a childhood friend of drummer Julian Gross and director of their next video, Alex/2Tone has been specially selected by the Liars: "Childhood friend of Julian's, their shared background of graffiti has carried over into Alex's current body of visual work. We are excited to see this shared background expressed when Alex directs our next video for the track "WIXIW". We tracked him down to catch up on new projects, Instagram, Breaking Bad and stealing from other artists.
Dazed Digital: Where do you live and work?
Alex/2Tone: I live in Los Feliz, LA. My street is quiet and pretty and I can easily get to the areas that are not, which I also like. I have a great view, good sunsets, and I’m next to griffith park. I primarily work from home. Actually, at times, my place is essentially an office with a bedroom.
DD: What are you working on?
Alex/2Tone: I’m working on wrapping a couple projects that are lingering in post—a local NYC band called Bubbles, some branded content for KRINK, and a short piece for Born x Raised. I'm a co-owner of the Born x Raised brand and I'm acting as Design Director there, we're in the process of getting this thing up in the air. I'm also sorting out shooting some local acts: Brooke Candy and some others, super low-fi style. We’re trying to sort out a video with Liars, and I'm drawing and taking pictures when I can. And Instagraming and blogging, which means I'm drawing or shooting pics to
DD: How did you get to where you are now with directing?
Alex/2Tone: It’s been a non-linear path. I dropped out of high school, dropped out of film school, wrote graffiti, dabbled in tattooing, wrote a lot of prose, worked a job as an art director at a clothing company—after that I started my own clothing company and sold it. The whole time I wanted to direct, but I don't think I was ready... And then I did get it together, and all the things that were "good and bad" in my life influence what I do now. I'm still in the starting position with directing and I'm trying to stay focused on developing as an artist.
DD: Are there any elements which remain consistent throughout your work?
Alex/2Tone: I think so. Maybe a trashy, cheeky, tacky streak? I'm always up for something to be either hyper-realistic or strange in its realness. I don't always get there. There's definitely a rough design element to what I do, and I'll crowbar in some hand done type/lettering if it make sense. I'm still sorting it out.
DD: You're pretty active on your tumblr blog. Anything specific you like/find interesting about tumblr?
Alex/2Tone: Tumblr was the first instance where I became excited about blogging, I like that its streamlined, image-based and un-censored. After that, I got into Instagram, which is basically the best of facebook, twitter and tumblr. Instagram has rendered everything almost obsolete for me, in regards to social media. I still "twitter" and check in on Facebook periodically, but I'm basically mailing it in. I feel like it may seem silly for a grown man to dedicate time to social media, but I'm really happy to communicate in ways I was unable to before. I like the idea that there are thousands and, possibly, exponentially millions of people all inside my phone all the time, all trying to communicate with pictures. It's inspired me to do more visually.
DD: Tell us about the concept of 'You're only as good as what you steal'
Alex/2Tone: I did a tee design about seven years ago, it was a knock-off of the Gucci logo, and it read: "You're only as good as what you steal." I used to think that artists were born good, or that shitloads of practice would make you good, but I was reluctant to consciously copy other people, and as a result, reluctant to do the work it takes to get good. I still don't steal people's ideas and pass them off as mine, but I'm aware of the homework you should do, and aware that we only see the final product, we don't see all the prep that goes into a piece of art or a song. So, in a nutshell, I'm trying to condition myself to watch the movies and the read books that I've stacked around myself, instead of watching entire seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix in a week. Mostly, it’s a losing battle.
DD: What or who are you into at the moment?
Alex/2Tone: Breaking Bad. The Cloud Nothings, hiking, checking people out, juicing, Gold, Omar, drawing butts, lettering, squirrels, Frank Ocean, Kurt Vile, Grimes, Grizzly Bear, Count Mack, Brooke Candy, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab Soul, trying to be an adult, Shabazz Palaces, cataloguing my prank phone calls, movies, Dolly Parton's "Jolene", obsessing over TV series I should have watched and watching them like it's a job I need to finish. There's also a bunch of really talented video directors I follow who inspire and motivate me.
DD: Best artist of all time?
Alex/2Tone: That’s impossible.
DD: Anything you can tell us about your plans for the Liars video?
Alex/2Tone: So far all I have is a guy playing basketball at night, shot in black and white, and all we really see are his white shorts and shoes, the hoop and concrete. That and a woman. I'm pretty sure that may change though.
More from Liars Selects pieces HERE
Text by Lillian He