Joshua Fisher and Eda Levenson fuse nail art and music into an immersive live experience
Joshua Fisher and Eda Levenson are best friends and creative collaborators. After meeting in their freshman year of college at UC Santa Cruz, they quickly connected through their shared interest in social justice work and artistic expression. But when the two entered separate grad schools that put 1,000 miles of separation between them, their bond only strengthened, inspiring the duo to expand culturally and creatively, together.
These days, Joshua is better known as DJ Creelfish, with a residency at The Layover and a stacked Soundcloud, while Brooklyn-based Eda works under her alias Lady Fancy Nails, boasting an impressive collection of nail artwork, and a following of adoring fans. Together, however, they are Bass Coat; a bi-coastal collaboration of audio, visual, live, and wearable art. In fusing their respective mediums, Eda and Joshua manifest as Bass Coat to create eclectic mixes and performance-based events for their friends and following. The latest edition of the Bass Coat mixes just dropped this week, in anticipation of their collaborative event with our friends at Flavourhood, fixing to crack this Saturday night at Urban Stitch Boutique. “It’s going to be multiple forms and ways to interact with creativity,” says Eda. “Like, audio, visual… or nah,” she laughs. To unpack the meanings and makings behind Bass Coat, and their upcoming event, I sat down with Joshua and Eda, who expanded upon their creative instincts, gender politics, and art as a means for social activism.
“When I moved to New York after graduate school, I realized the importance of a soundtrack, and having your life guided by music,” explains Eda. When she started building her nail art clientele, she reached out to Joshua to help her create the optimal soundtrack experience to go along with her work. As Eda tells me about it, she turns to Joshua smiling excitedly at the reminder of their humbler beginnings. This basis for the curation of Bass Coat and the overflow of creativity that would soon follow is simple but purposeful. The relationships founded in the barber chair or tattoo bed are intrinsically intimate by nature and speak to our humanistic desire to connect, share, trust, and touch with those caring for our cosmetological needs. Eda’s original intention with the project was to maximize that exchange by putting her nail art clients on to otherwise exclusive or niche music genres. “I feel like women are especially excluded from music, and they kind of just listen to what’s out there,” she explains, “I like the opportunity to share a sound and a vibe with the people that I know – my clients and the folks I’m around – by exposing folks to new [music] I’m feeling, and that Joshua is feeling when he’s in his element.”
Bass Coat’s commitment to inclusion and accessibility stems from their dedication to community. Joshua and Eda are both diligent fighters for social change in their professional lives through arts education and youth organizing, respectively, and aim to claim a space for social issues in their creative arenas as well. “Nail art offers women an opportunity to reclaim their power and femininity [in a way] that is determined and dictated by a female perspective,” says Eda. “My perspective is around accentuating and drawing out female power. You wear your body as if it’s armor. It definitely communicates a certain level of confidence if you’re willing to wear pretty elaborate nail art on your hands. So to me it communicates something about female power.”
Eda speaks excitedly, accenting her passionate ideas with expressive hand gestures that showcase her own one-of-a-kind designs in intricate black and white detail. “When I do women’s nails, I see a change in them; I see this vibrancy and this light that comes from them when their nails are done and they’re poppin’ and they’re feeling fly! And that’s a form of resistance in itself,” she goes on, “because we’re constantly told as women that we’re not pretty enough or not smart enough or we’re never going to be able to surpass the limits that are placed on us… so to me it’s really about breaking through some of that. Not everyone’s going to read it that way, but that’s what I’m trying to bring whenever I’m producing art.”
Similarly, Joshua is also putting on for his own critical lens. While clearly an ally of Eda’s exuberant theoretical critiques, he contrastingly sits rather calmly beside her in the makeshift conference room we’ve constructed in the back end of his professional work space. He adjusts his hat and takes pause before he speaks in collected words that communicate his linguistic ties to the Bay and ideas for action. “The original intention was to do something around nails and fashion… but after we made the first mix I think we were just like, Yo, let’s make everything hella slappin’ and hella relevant and a little cutty –like stuff people don’t necessarily know–and stuff that drives us, and that drives what we do.” Joshua shifts only slightly in his chair and adjusts his snapback to sit higher, hovering just on top of his head. “What’s dope about our events is that you come to the spot, you already look pretty cool, you get this nail thing and connect with someone, and then party and kick it in this safe environment that’s also crackin’.” In this way, Bass Coat events emphasize an intention of socializing as a from of social action. “I think representing visual art and having dope sound is super relevant right now because it’s inclusive and accessible… the priority is bringing folks together around art.”
And they have. To date Joshua and Eda have collaborated over myriad events that span “crackin’ ass parties” to Flavourhood’s more calculated gallery experience. “I love the element of having live art happen and having people watch the creative process,” says Eda. And that intentionality is dualistic. Eda seeks to elevate her live-nail art from the salon, to the party, to the gallery, while additionally furthering the assertion of herself and her creative nail art peers as valid artists. “First and foremost, I’m an artist. And then I’m a nail artist,” she says, “And I think a lot of other nail artists are the same way; they’re creative people and they’re artistically inclined, and they’ve figured out that nails are their medium.”
For the upcoming event, Bass Coat intends to not only push this platform but also actually combine the featured visual pieces with the live nail art. Nail artists will pull from the artwork in the Flavourhood curated show to inspire their designs and provide attendees the opportunity to come away from the event with a unique and collaborative artistic experience. As Joshua tells me, the event will exist to include a variety of interactive ideas. “There’s going to be art, there’s going to be tons of stuff to look at, and we’ll be looking out onto Oakland from the second floor through these big ass windows. There will be time for reflection, and to get fly, and we’ll have some dance performances, and then people can get it crackin’ too.”
To see it all come together for yourself, RSVP here to gain free entry to the event before 10pm. If not, don’t even trip; it’s only $5 at the door all night. Show up early to reserve a spot to receive nail art between 8pm and 10pm from one of many amazing artists on location for the dub five. And keep up with Lady Fancy Nails and DJ Creelfish here and here.