INTERVIEW: A Conversation with artist, Aza Shade!

Who is Aza Shade? Well, she’s probably best known as the lead singer in experimental punk/no wave band, Manflu (look them up and listen; they’re pretty, fucking good On top of that she models, photographs, makes films, paints and still finds time to do stuff like go out and live and eat, which I think is reason enough to interview someone. She’ll also be showing her work at this year’s Venice Biennale - a big deal art fair, 1st June-24th November 2013 - and most likely figuring out how to make the ultimate masterpiece, cult film of her yeh, if you don’t know, get to know! Here goes the interview...  

Have you always considered yourself to be an artist?

Not really. When I was a kid I thought that artists were the poorest and I didn’t wanna be poor because I wanted to buy my mum a house and all that. So I dreamed to be an actress. But then I thought, “Fuck that dumb Hollywood, I’d rather paint some nude bitches.”



Why do you create art? What purpose does it serve for you?

It’s purely self indulgent at this point. I need to take the meaning a bit further but I’m not concentrating enough. Meanwhile I just do what I enjoy doing and have fun with it.


Is there such a thing as ‘good art’ and ‘bad art’ or do you feel it’s more subjective?

It’s different for everyone. For me bad art is the art that makes me go, “Meh.” But that’s just what I think; some other people might think it’s genius coz it’s tingling their balls. So yeah I’d say there’s no such thing. Even shit art can be quite interesting too, actually.


You grew up in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and now live in London. How do these places compare?

They don’t compare, it’s a totally different universe.



Did your family encourage you to be creative? Were/are there any people in your life who have a strong influence on the art you make?

My mum used to paint, make clothes and all that. Whenever I had a drawing class I’d be bored coz we were drawing still life, like apples and drapery, you know…really boring stuff. And she used to finish that up for me and say, “It might be boring, but you see I finished it for you and now it’s my painting and I’m the owner and the creator of this, it’s not yours. So go and paint and finish it.” And when I did that I kinda had a good feeling of holding something that is my art, my complete vision, even if it’s a fucking apple on drapery. So that was quite encouraging, I thought.


You explore a range of mediums through your work.  Which are you drawn to more? Why do you think that is?

Definitely video; I love moving image. Photography is beautiful too but I think video is more challenging. It’s tricky to be less obvious and it’s much more emotional.


Your work, in whichever discipline, always seems to have a modern, experimental and often sexual edge to it. Is that something you consciously aim for or does it just happen by chance?

It happens by chance. I just like taking awkward photos where there’s nudity involved. I like when pictures look wrong and unexpected.



Is there anything you hate about the process of making art?

Yes, not making any money! Ahahaha. But fuck it, I’d say the time will come. Meanwhile I have to shoot fashion stories to make some cash, which is easy but sometimes boring.


Do you ever struggle to come up with ideas? Do you ever doubt your ability as an artist?

Never, I don’t struggle - no! Oh yeah, I doubt it every night. I still don’t think I’m quite an artist. Art is my hobby. It’s not yet completely in my brain; I don’t live by art, I don’t think art. So I guess it’s an O.K time to doubt. But hopefully one day I’ll wake up and live by it and it will take me further.


From 'Books and Bath' series


What work will you be showing at the 55th Venice Biennale? Why did you submit that particular piece/s?

It’s a 2 min film I did with my mate Edward Goh. It’s called ‘The Disappearing City.’ I submitted it because the theme was really close to the concept of the exhibition - and I was right - I’m really happy to represent and be one of the 6 chosen artists. I’ll upload this film to my website in July (


Are there any current artists you rate and are inspired by?

Shuji Terayama.


What would be your dream art project?

I want to shoot a masterpiece that will eventually become a cult film. That’s my main dream and future goal!