I first encountered Brandon at the M Room in Philadelphia where his esoteric/metal/goth/prog/dark art band The Red Masque was playing. Over
the course of time I ran into him at other events and the inevitable online
social world. His art posts caught my attention. Brandon's pen drawings are
at the crossroads of Gustav Klimt and outsider artists such as
Madge Gill-but he has infused these forbears with his own visual language
of devilry, the occult, sci-fi, and masquerade. His color pastel paintings
enhance the aura of the wyrd via a style of close kinship with German
expressionist painting and cinema. One can imagine Ross quite at home
in the circles of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, George Grosz, or G.W. Pabst, as
well as Kenneth Anger. -Jon F. Allen, Oct. 2012
JFA: How long have you been working at visual art, and when did you first gravitate toward your current occult/expressionist style? In other words, what was the evolution like for you?
BLR: I've always had an interest in art from early on, but I was primarily concentrating on playing music for the most part since High School. I would say that I started doing some strange pen and ink drawings about 12 yrs' ago just doodling out of boredom, and held on to them-then around 03 began trying out paints and oil/chalk pastels from available art supplies that were lying around. I began to realize that a certain style/pattern kept emerging where all the artworks seemed from the same world, like they were emerging and had a life of their own. Sometimes I would take a break from doing any art, but then get back into for a bit. Around 2009 I started doing a lot more, and began the desire to exhibit and now I can't stop making them. For me it's a spiritual process. The art is a constant-it lives outside the meaningless event world we call reality. That's why I say what is depicted is "true reality" or more pure-I've always had an interest in other dimensions and what lies beyond what we perceive. I like to express, say, "here this is it!" as opposed to being clever, or "hip." The art makes me draw it. It's alive. I rarely plan any of the pieces I do. The evolution-it's very personal-it's communing in a sense art as sigil-spell-catharsis-design-illustration-and entity all together. And, more recently I've delved into film-making which of course uses the same process and themes.
JFA: Sounds like a very intuitive process, but are there any attempts to use the art as a form of magic for altering the outside world? Also, describe some of the characters that come about and what may have inspired you toward them.
BLR: I believe it is altering the outside world!, but the majick is still more subconscious on my part. I wouldn't mind creating "sigils" for people with direct personal intents embedded in the art. Most just come about. It feels like ancient racial memory, or experience from dream states or trans-dimensional travel. Then, some I might start with an idea to inspire me. For example, a friend was telling me about some strange nightclub that existed in Australia. At one point, it had statues coming out of the walls and pictures of Dictators hanging up, it looked like a crazy film set. The article mentioned that after a certain time the local "Slippery Set" would show up, so I imagined what the hell they might be. That's what led me to do Father Froggins. The priest outfit just came about as part of doing the artwork. In other works, I wanted to sketch possible characters that could be creatures for films or could be used to illustrate something. It's almost like they are all pieces in a puzzle. I think the idea of entities that live just outside our dimension and manipulate things is what I feel these represent; they are altered versions of people, objects, etc.
Vampiric very much, changing form/mood/shape. Mask-like because who are they really, and who are we really?
Some other examples I can give are the two horse pictures which belong to the riders of the Apocalypse. The riders have dismounted, yet the horses seem to still be basking in the darkness they created-filling out the remaining parts of the world to end, leftovers from a violent sex act. For the one called "SS" I saw a red tinted picture of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. I knew I had to create some sort of creature based on that. Notice the same background in SS as that of Father Froggins like they are appearing in the same place. So yes! I sometimes start with a basic idea, but these works then draw themselves. I might look at a mask on the wall for an initial model, but then the entity takes over.
JFA: How do Father Froggins, Himmler, and Heydrich connect or act in your overall narrative?
BLR: It all seems to fit, the power behind the power of will to do evil? A red curtain or background suggests all kinds things: Rome, the Nazi Flag, a gateway, blood, birth, and terror that attracts. It feels like Froggins and SS are emerging in the same place: the corruption that is innate in authority, and the ridiculousness and entrenched evil of it. What better than a huge Frog in a priest frock and a demon in military garb?
JFA: What is your opinion of Christianity? What Occult practices interest you? Would you define yourself as being part of a particular religion or spiritual quest?
BLR: Is it not a revamp of older religions? A dying and rising god, essentially pagan holidays renamed, a pantheon of saints/apostles. Plus, the original "Christians", from what I gather, were nothing like what modern Christianity is. If someone wants to be a Christian that is fine, but they should ask out of any religion, what are you getting out of it? Look how people are controlled/socially engineered by modern monotheistic religions. It gives them some comfort, but most of them are usually very unhappy, I think exploring ideas and origins of Christianity and how it relates to pre-christian religions, and how it may have changed throughout history is something that any believer in it should explore. I don't understand taking what a priest/minister or the Bible says on complete faith. It would be quite interesting to talk with christian mystic, or a gnostic, or theologian about a lot of this. I just feel when anyone separates the macrocosm and microcosm under whatever banner (Christian/Muslim, etc.) and uses it to control and oppress people that it is pure evil.
I'm interested in anything that would empower and advance the individual, and doesn't resort to overly complex rites, and rules. Visualization, Chaos Magic, Radionics, Left-Hand Path perhaps?.
I feel I'm definitely on some sort quest. Trying to control strange energies and break through barriers, I feel it in my solar plexus chakra like flame/desire I'm very...
I can't quite define it any sort of specific terms, but it's definitely personal for me.
JFA: What are your political beliefs? Do you see any parallels with that and the occult? How do you think your political ideology will work toward a better country or even a better world?
BLR: I think politics on the whole is used to siphon any productive energy into unproductive purposes, then band-aid the problems created with more problems. It's about control, and coercion for the most part, and what we have now is a great dis-empowerment of most of the worlds people a result. There may be occult/elite activity causing a lot of this, but the masses also defer what power they may have.
They allow it to happen. We do it every day without realizing it, because we're trained that way to be dependent on the system. But I've always asked why do things have to be like this? We live this way out of fear. I always thought, can we operate without
the hierarchy, authorities, and someone telling us what to do. But how do we get to that point? A spiritual evolution of sorts maybe. A big problem is repression and misdirection of sexual energy. This is something which I think all the other issues stem from because at the core it's where creativity comes from. It's like everything is being held back in a dark age and what good is technological progress if the end is enslavement? I can say I'm very interested in anarchistic and libertarian beliefs like volunteerism and alternative modes of currency while living and relating to other people in general. If I could come up with a general idea we should head towards it would be a decentralized, cooperative type culture ran through a series of networks with no real "leaders": make each individual a sovereign, have free/clean energy, barter, local currency, work with nature, i.e., permaculture, and intergrated/natural health clinics. I think it's possible. We just have to get the fear, ignorance, and the handful of globalist psychopaths out of the way. The road could be smooth or bumpy. Either way, I think the world is screaming for change, but relying on the political system for that is not the way to go about it. We have to make the change within ourselves first. Easier said than done right?! ha,ha!
JFA: When did you first get into video? Was it a transition from your 2-d works? What are you trying to achieve with them? Also, describe The Red Masque and band background? What's new and what's in store for Red Masque in the future?
BLR: About a couple of years ago, I always wanted to make films, and also have been getting interested in acting as well. I think the same process is essentially applied as art I "paint" with the footage. I want to achieve creating moving, living sigils and trans-dimensional journeys. I just shot a new film and it was my first directing other actors. I do believe that both the 2d art and film work are being channeled from the same place.
The Red masque was formed in 2001 by Lynnette Shelley and me. The idea was to form a progressive rock influenced band in the spirit of experimentation of the original prog/psychedelic bands, and run it through our own filters. The band has been through various line-ups and musical evolution. I guess it could be called "avant-rock" or "dark art rock" but we don't really fit into any category per se.
Our new album "Mythalogue" is due out on Beta-Lactam ring records in early 2013 it was mixed by Bob Drake in France. We plan to start playing live shows again in January, and may look into a possible tour for next year.