Your cart

Interview With Evan Beaumont aka GL4G on Outsid/In by Albino & Preto

CONSTRUCTOR: BEATS BUILDINGS AND VISUALS, W/ GL4G

Evan Beaumont aka GL4G is a California native living in Brooklyn. He’s a visual artist, beat composer, engineer and Purple Belt who currently specializes in live broadcasts of music and visuals from his studio in Bed-Stuy. For our conversation, we focused on themes of construction, intention and feedback.

Outsid/In

What's your name? What level in Jiu Jitsu are you? And where do you train?

Evan:  

My name is Evan Beaumont. I train at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And I am a purple belt.

Outsid/In: 

So as you know, we’ll focus on four topics. The first one we just mentioned is Jiu Jitsu. Second is your engineering background. Third, your art. And fourth, your music. Tell me about the engineering. Tell me a little bit about what you do professionally.

Evan: 

Well, I have a bachelor's in mechanical engineering. And my concentration was in aerospace engineering. Now I apply that towards construction, for a few reasons: construction is a readily available career path here in New York, it’s stable and always expanding for engineers. 

The other reason is that with aerospace, there was less opportunity for me to be in control of the things I was building. I could be building a part that, I don't know what it’s going to be used for. 

Outsid/In:  

Is that important to you to have a personal connection and understanding of where your work is going to end up?

Evan:  

Definitely. I have a whole speech about that, about my intention, in the framework of how we talk about mathematics. Negative and positive are directional, they're quantifiers of magnitude of vector. And so, I feel it's important for me to do things that are in line with my intentions, because if I do something in line with my intentions, then it's positive, I’m going towards the direction that I intend to go. And if I'm doing things that go in the opposite direction, then it's negative. And it's not good or bad. It's just not in the direction of where I want my intention and energy to go.

Outsid/In:  

So if you created a part for an aerospace project and ended up on a weapon that could hurt somebody, you would consider that negative progress as far as your own intentions.

Evan:  

Correct. Yeah.

Outsid/In:  

Positive and negative. That's a cool way to look at it. I also noticed that in your music, especially when you DJ, you do late night, odd hours broadcasts of your music. Does that have anything to do with this idea of intention? Or is it just when you happen to be awake.

Evan:  

It's actually both. Finding time for things and making time for things is important to me. And the late night stuff that I do, it's important for me to play the kind of music that I like to play because it's A) it's appropriate music for 4:00am or 2:00am, or whatever time it is, odd hours. And that is definitely in line with my intention. So if you're up that late, you're in the same kind of headspace. 

Outsid/In:  

It is very appropriate ‘Late Night Music’. Because of the Pandemic, people are awake at weird times now. And there have been times where I've come across you DJing when I thought no one else was up. And it's a nice connection. It feels like “I'm not alone here.” Which is a good feeling.

Evan:  

Well, and there's two things. The other aspect of it is that I'm from Los Angeles. And so there's been times with people that I was close with, it's 4:00am, but it's 1:00am for them. I feel it catches those people and it also catches the people that I've formed some connections with out here that are in nightlife or are essential to whatever extent. Your bartenders, your people who are considered ancillary staff, who are cleaning up. That's their workday. Their workday is at night and they can't party. Sometimes at night people like me need attention.

Outsid/In:  

So how would you describe what you're doing right now? Musically?

Evan:  

So I have ADD. I try to embrace it, to whatever extent, and I've gotten through life being distracted all the time. And so sometimes things take priority because I have no choice. When I was in college, I loved drawing, and instead of taking notes, I would sketch in class. That helped me, whether or not I was aware of it at the time, that helped me remember things. And that's the only way I could keep engaged and absorb information, while also keeping some sort of creativity and artistic stuff going. 

So similarly, I'm doing that with music. I don't consider myself a DJ. Because there are people who are DJs and that's what they do. And I would never say that because that's not where my focus lies. But right now, like sketching, I have other focuses, so I have to do it. I can't make music right now. I can't make my own music. So I have been DJing to keep the machine greased. To keep the muscles from atrophy.

Outsid/In:  

Well, you're drawing really easy parallels to Jiu Jitsu. But before we get there, why can't you make your music right now?

Evan:  

There's a few reasons I think. I have to have a clear headspace. And then also, I feel if when it's there, it's there. When that creativity shows up. It's there. I watch a lot of comedians, and I was watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. And there was a really great episode. It's the host, of course, Jerry Seinfeld. And he's interviewing Dave Chappelle. And as soon as the interview kicks off, they start talking about inspiration and creativity. And they hit it right on the head. Then Dave Chappelle says, “You just showed up, and picked me up.”

Sometimes creativity pulls up, and it says, you want to drive? Sometimes, you want to get in the passenger seat. But you don’t pull up to creativity’s house and pick up creativity. Sometimes you're the passenger, sometimes it lets you drive. When it’s there it’s there. So it's hard to explain when and why you can't do stuff, and don't try to force things. It's not the same thing.

Outsid/In:  

When you try and put too much formal process behind it, like people who will tell you that in order to be creative you have to journal every day, you have to get up at five in the morning, and then it starts to become homework.

Evan:  

And again, not to get into the Jiu Jitsu metaphors just yet, but it's there. There is an importance in having structure because pure creativity, there's no real intention behind pure creativity. And the more intention you put behind it, there becomes a difference between expressing yourself and communicating.

So when I DJ, what I'm doing is ultimately is practicing and trying to keep my creativity up, but also I'm trying to share. That's why I DJ, to get more in the habit of sharing being creative. And when you're sharing, now you're talking about communication rather than just expressing yourself.

Outsid/In: 

It becomes a two way communication in a way, when you put it out there.

Evan:  

Right, even if somebody doesn't say anything back.

Outsid/In: 

Because you've now kind of released your own control of it. You're letting it go out into the universe.

Evan:  

I've released control of the perception of my expression.

Outsid/In:  

Right. I think something that a lot of artists and creative people fall into is they start to really become stuck to their perception of their art, right? Well, I'm this kind of artist. And if you perceive me another way, then you're wrong. Right?

Evan:  

Right. Or you can also get stuck into the pattern of trying to create towards someone else's perception. This is what gets me money. This is paying my bills and one might call it selling out, it's trying to find a balance of those things - expressing myself, but also expressing myself in a way that it is understood and received.

Outsid/In:  

And I've noticed you're doing something with your DJ sets that also involve visuals. And it looks to me like recent Black history is kind of what you're putting on screen. Like Soul Train, a lot of great breakdancing videos and stuff. Is there intention behind that, or are you just showing stuff that you like?

Evan:  

No, there's definitely intention behind it. And also, it's always cool when things accidentally sync up with the music. So that's part of it. But then also the intention and creativity. And I'm not just showing random things that I like. I started off with an intention, then I'll watch my things to criticize myself and be critical of myself, which I always do. And it's nice when I can give myself a pat on the back and say, you don't even know but you're, you're communicating. 

So a lot of it is that diaspora of Black culture. The timelessness of the black culture, black culture and some imagery. That’s not Soul Train that I put up. That's this weird, public access, Detroit dance show. And if you look, sometimes you'll see what the actual song is that they're dancing to, and it’s something like Kraftwerk.

That's another aspect of it, it’s just weird shit! The weird ‘Black people are not a monolith’ shit. In Detroit, they were listening to weird house and techno and actually created house and techno. And you don't have to beat that into anyone's head. It's just subtle things that someone who's interested might pick it up, like Easter eggs.

Outsid/In:  

That's cool. And that connection would not have been made unless you put it out there. Without that decision to push a button that says “Live”, and that's pretty cool. It takes a reduction of the ego, I suppose. So how does Jiu Jitsu help you in those situations, because there is definitely a whole lot of ego reduction too, in order to be successful in Jiu Jitsu.

Evan:  

I definitely feel that. Just getting out of the comfort zone. Just going to the dojo and practicing Jiu Jitsu is a humbling experience, because I didn't know Jiu Jitsu when I first started. And then every time I am in class, I find something that I don't know. And I thought I knew, and I didn't know as well. It takes a lot of confidence to say, ‘Well, I went into something I didn't know. And I did it. And I’m not the best at it yet. But I did it. And I continue to do it.’ That continual battle against yourself to keep doing it.

Outsid/In:  

The showing up.

Evan:  

But now that we're in a pandemic, so showing up is a little bit more complicated. Now showing up is just getting out of bed every day and realizing that I got out of bed. And because that is the difficult part of the day. And then the next part is realizing I got out of bed.

Outsid/In:  

It seems you’ve also committed to putting yourself out there more. With music, your performances. Your art is publicly on display. Where are you at now, in that process? Showing your music, showing your art, how do you feel about it right now?

Evan:  

There are a lot of things that are happening, in the wake of all the uprisings due to murders, police and police brutality. Aggression and violence towards women and Black women and Trans Black women. And just disparity. I’ve recognized that I do have some privilege and advantages. And I don't have anything to express or say or contribute right now that hasn't been expressed. At some point, things can become white noise. 

Outsid/In:  

Sometimes, the intention is to not say anything.

Evan:  

It’s all situational. And specific to people, to individuals. For me to hop on, and say what everyone else is saying, wouldn’t be as impactful. I think it’s possible to fall into the void and also be performative. 

Outsid/In:  

Something I find is that the people who are most worried about being performative are often the people who are the most genuine and probably should be listened to. Because it seems you have to have that awareness in order to know when to shut up. Do you know what I mean? The people who are unaware are the ones who are usually out there, saying stuff that nobody needs to hear.

Evan:  

And also there are people who are saying things that need to be heard. And those people are good at that. Sometimes they are being performative, but they're good at that. That's their art. That's their artistry.

Outsid/In:  

There's an argument to be made for performance, isn't the word “perform”-ative? But the way we use it now, it's a pejorative. 

Evan:  

There's a connotation like...

Outsid/In:  

You’re faking?

Evan:  

Right. Fake till you make it? But I think that right now, there is art that can speak more directly. But most of my art, from when I was younger, was very comic book-y, figurative graffiti stuff. And all the stuff that I do now is a lot more abstract. And, because that's something that I'm not familiar with, and less comfortable with. And that’s definitely Jiu Jitsu. Getting out of the comfort zone, feeling OK to explore. To explore things that are more abstract, instead of being more literal or direct. Same thing with the videos and the music I play. I do have intention behind it. I'm not going to say ‘This is a playlist of freedom fighting songs’. Somebody else could do that.

Outsid/In:  

This is just your personal approach, right? To how you're expressing your lived experience.

Evan:  

Right and some people need to hear things more directly. If you're on the mat, sometimes you can't tell somebody they're going too hard. And you can't say that, because that will make them go harder.

Outsid/In:  

They'll take the wrong thing away from it, they'll go the other direction.

Evan:  

Right. And we know, people specifically like that. And sometimes you have to show them in a subtle, indirect way.

Outsid/In:  

Put the pieces out there, you have to learn that.

Evan:  

Being more subtle, finding nuanced ways of communicating. 

Outsid/In:  

You don't have to end the conversation by just throwing somebody in a horrible choke, ending everything. I think to be abstract, in the least in the way we're talking about it, is to understand nuance, to understand when you're being performative, and when you're being genuine. Just to have that awareness, to push things to the abstract.

Evan:  

That realm of ‘abstract’ is very grey, it's very difficult to navigate, because there is a lot of uncertainty in there. And I'm trying to figure out if I'm communicating something clearly. Is it going to be heard? Are they going to get it?  

It's gratifying when people receive the nuances. It also opens you up for mistakes too. I have the luxury to put my defenses down. If I have the opportunity to be vulnerable, then I should take that opportunity. In the dojo, I have the opportunity to train as if I'm in a life and death situation, so why not explore and try to see where your vulnerabilities are? And learn that some of those vulnerabilities aren't even vulnerabilities, they’re strengths.

Outsid/In:  

You're right. And that is a much nuanced position to find yourself in, which is not something you get to do that often. To not know something. When I was watching your live stream, what I saw was Soul Train. And you explained to me what it really is, and then we got to talk it through and now I feel I really learned something.

Do you feel you're getting enough of that kind of feedback? Are people letting you know that they understood what you intended? 

Evan:  

That's interesting, because feedback is important for growth. Like the whole nature versus nurture thing, which is a kind of a non-argument to me, because it's both. If I don't encounter any external stimulus, it’s inertia. An object in motion stays in motion. I'm just going to be until another force is exerted upon me. So without feedback, I would just be hurtling down the same path. 

Like if somebody comes to the dojo and watches me practice. I appreciate it, they came in watch to see what I do. And to watch my practice, you're not really going to see the finished product. And it's okay. Or if I'm drawing something, especially the abstract stuff I've been doing. I used to sit at Parlor [local bar] and draw because I'm a solitary individual, but I do need to be around people. And that was a good way for me to maintain disconnection and be around people at the same time.

Outsid/In:  

Disconnectedly connected. 

Evan:  

And I messed up, because then it started making me connect with people.

Outsid/In:  

People actually like you. That's the problem.

Evan:  

At first I was doing some of the old graffiti stuff I used to do. And then I started experimenting with things. People would look at me just drawing mud lines, I call them mud lines. Just, big blocks that I would throw down. Broad strokes. And they couldn't see the intention behind it. So it didn't really matter for me to hear their feedback at that time. Same thing with DJ sessions and also BJJ.

People like that progression. If you can sit and watch the whole progression, and you have the time to do that, which a lot of people don't have the time or the attention span anymore to do, that'd be awesome. But I wouldn't expect feedback from a practice session while I’m building something, unless it's from another builder.

Outsid/In:  

That will get in your way a little bit. 

Evan:  

Exactly and that's why when we're training, our professors don't interrupt to give overall feedback, though they're qualified to do that. They know what they're talking about. But they don’t overdo it.

Outsid/In:  

And they might actually be in the position where they've seen your progression. They might be the ones who are most aware of where you started and where you are now.

Evan:  

Exactly. So similar if I'm on a job site, I'm building a building, my whole job is to track the progression of this building and so I know if it's on schedule, or if it's not. So it's my responsibility to step in and say something and give feedback if it's going off the rails.

Outsid/In:  

Because you are an authority.

Evan:  

The feedback is important. What I'm doing right now, I don't need the feedback. I appreciate feedback. I appreciate your feedback. Because we've talked and you have an understanding of what I’m trying to do.

Outsid/In: 

But it still doesn't make me any kind of authority. I really like what I think about when I see something you create. And then if I express ten percent of those thoughts to you, I think that's a valuable exchange.

Evan:  

It's not just placating, patting me on the back saying, ‘I saw your stuff it was dope’. Alright I get valuable feedback. And I think that's way more important, to get valuable feedback from one person versus 20 Million Likes?

Outsid/In:  

I think it's just something that's valuable that we can all do for each other, especially creative people, just let somebody know what was working? What wasn't working? Just because I think creative people thrive on that kind of shit.

Evan:  

Sometimes it can be convoluted into the idea that creative people are doing this for likes or for attention. Or validation. But for me, there is validation. But I'm building something and I want to improve. And I want to get better at it, because I do enjoy it. And if I can do something that I enjoy better and easier, and then I will enjoy even more.

Outsid/In:

So the question I usually ask people at the end of these things is, what are you most looking forward to personally? What excites you about the future?

Evan:  

Every year it’s about my intention, getting closer to merging and balancing the art, the engineering, the music and the Jiu Jitsu.

I look forward to finding new ways to utilize my skill sets, just stumbling across connections between the things I listed. Those connections are just magic to me. They say if you explain a magic trick, it's no longer magic. But it's magic. To me, the explanation of the magic trick is magic to me.

Outsid/In:

I think that’s a perfect way to end things. Thanks Evan.

Evan:  

I appreciate it.