Interview by Alessandra Femenias

School friends turned collaborators, Gillian Kayrooz and Natalie Ang are a force to be reckoned with. Combining their mutual love of art and music, they have created a diverse portfolio of beautiful and effortlessly cool works over the years. They even launched their own clothing label, Chainmail in 2018.

Gillian and Natalie are both previous New Age Noise (fka All Girl Electronic) participants (and immensely talented!), so it was an easy decision to ask them design our New Age Noise: Saturn Return poster.

With New Age Noise: Saturn Return only days away, NANC member Alessandra decided to have a chat to Gillian and Natalie to discuss all things music, inspiration and growing up in Western Sydney.

A Self Portrait

Alessandra: Hey! Please introduce yourselves.

Gillian: Hello, I’m Gill! I’m am an emerging artist from Guildford in Western Sydney and have recently completed my Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) degree from the Sydney College of the Arts. Since graduating I have focused on developing my practice internationally this year through a number of exhibitions and artist residencies in Japan. I am also a host of the Culture Guide segment at FBi Radio and was a regular participant of the Previous All Girl Electronic program held at I.C.E!

Natalie: Hullo, I’m Natalie and I dropped out of art school a while ago to study some sweet science and psychology x I make things and sounds every now and then, in between spending unjustifiable lengths of time meticulously curating my Instagram which no one follows.

A: What’s on your playlist right now?

G: Honestly, for the past three months it has been a back to back obsession with Megan the Stallion’s two most recent albums, Tina Snow and Fever. However I always chuck on some of my favourite jazz tracks when I need to chill out from a constant ‘Hot Girl Summer’ mood.   

N: Been Busy by Thunder Fox and that The Wombats album from last year that I completely forgot to listen to. Certified bangers. Check out the music video for ‘Been Busy’ for a totally Safe For Work treat [SARCASTIC JOKE].

A: You both went to high school together – how did you go from being friends to friends who create together?

G: It was a natural process where I believe our close friendships and constant verbal flow of ridiculous ideas lent itself to then working together! The ability to be brutally honest with each other but at the same time be able to naturally sense and distinguish the vibe of a design has made the process of generating work together feel effortless and super enjoyable! It also makes for a great excuse to catch up and devour a sick lunch before we get into creating! 

N: Yeah hard agree, it’s amazing how much more efficiently you work when there’s a trust that is so robust, you can constantly critique each other and likewise accept the constructive feedback. It makes for a really fruitful creative process and I reckon its the reason we can often pump out material quite quickly, as we’re like, super springy springboards for each other. 

Chainmail Launch in Aug 2018. Photo by Alessandra Femenias

A: You’ve designed posters for past New Age Noise workshops, and also founded your DIY clothing label Chainmail together. Can you describe your creative process?

G: Our creative process; I’m going to coin that term loosely, tends to involve eating a lot of good food, getting into ridiculous tangents about absurd theoretical scenarios and creating a stack of Pinterest mood boards! Undoubtedly we are influenced by our surroundings, so Chainmail the Label was brought to life after we jokingly discussed how a lot streetwear brands from Sydney prioritized an inner west or north shore audience, while we felt there was nothing affordable or accessible to represent young people like us, from the Western Sydney area. Similarly our New Age Noise designs often reflect our current experiences or feelings, with the Saturn Return poster being influenced by our recent bubbly and cute adventures in Harajuku, Tokyo. 

N: We literally just talk shit and then have to back it up. My serious answer: Often it starts with one simple, lacklustre, generic and unoriginal idea, except there’s this one aspect of the idea that is entertaining or funny somehow. And for us, one of our pastimes is throwing an idea back and forth to each other, slightly transforming it each time so that it gets funnier and funnier, more interesting, more entertaining and more stupidly ridiculous. Most of the time it joins one of the hundred other nonsense points of conversation, but every now and then we’re actually so intrigued and captured by the idea that we actually decide to act on it. A lot of the time, our creative process is an artefact of our collaboration.

Alessandra & Natalie in Harajuku, Tokyo – Oct 2019. Photo by Gillian Kayrooz

A: You’re both from Western Sydney. From your experience, why do you think it’s important to foster a creative community in the area?

G: Although I feel that I could more than speak to the hardships of growing up in Western Sydney, I believe our area undoubtedly has the ability to foster creative determination and innovation through the influence of community. Being able to provide support and insights through first hand experiences and programs by local creative communities or platforms is invaluable when involving, inspiring and educating our young people and in particular those from the lowest socio-economic areas as well as diverse and refugee backgrounds. 

N: Because I think it’s dangerous to assume that someone’s gonna do the work for us or gonna prioritise our voices. I think it’s important to foster a creative community because it encourages locals to support one another, and build our own network of makers and buyers that presents an actual, viable alternative to the city/inner west art-music scene. Like, yeah the city is great, but we can and should have so much more than that! And it can be right here in our backyards if we want it to be. I think also as a general rule for a creative, it’s your responsibility to give back and keep the fire alive in terms of, like, going to your mate’s gigs, buying people’s art and just being a body that fills up space. There’s so much value in just being active and helping to fill up and validate those artists’ spaces yknowww. Ugh I could talk all day about this dm me.

A: Who are your creative influences and why?

G: This is a tough question as I feel like my influences are always evolving and I love finding the exciting new work of artists that I come across online (however if I had to mention names, it would be the screen art of Nadia Lee Cohen and the illustrations of James Jean, I’ve been massive long-term fans of their work!).

Ultimately, if I’m being real, it has been my friends, family and the community I grew up in that have been my biggest influence. With awesome events and creative platforms from Western Sydney community groups such as the Western and Opnsrc.Co reminding me why I create – which is not only to document and exhibit, but to demonstrate and create greater opportunities for other young people who are finding a sense of belonging and purpose through their passions! 

N: I second the shout out to the Western and those guys are legends! One of my personal favourite creators is Mona Chalabi. She’s a data journalist that analyses huge, complex datasets (a collection of numbers), and then produces beautiful hand drawn graphical drawings that translate the data into easy-to-understand images. Lots of her works are graphs of some sort, but unlike any graphs you’ve ever seen before. They convey a complex message…simply, with art. The images are beautiful, entertaining and engaging. I find heaps of inspiration in her method and mission to make information accessible because I think that underlying the concept of accessibility is empathy. I love when creators deliver their art in a way that everyone can understand. Whether it educates them or just entertains, everyone should be invited to enjoy it.

Stills from Gillian’s video work, ‘Y3LLOW SUN BAY RUN’, 2018

A: Lastly, why did you decide to be part of New Age Noise: Saturn Return and what can we expect?

G: I was originally a participant of the All Girl Electronic program at ICE before it evolved into New Age Noise. I found the workshops not only allowed me to develop my skills but allowed for a regular connection with an amazing community in Western Sydney, full of like minded young female-identifying people who were willing to create work and share ideas!

Since then I have witnessed the community grow immensely and the decision to be apart of New Age Noise: Saturn Return along with previous designs for the program was therefore a no brainer! Being able to give back to a program and another generation of participants is a process I am so thankful to be apart of. I think anyone heading along to the event should be pumped for an awesome evening full of amazing local talent and great company! Events like this will make you aware of, if not remind you why the Western Suburbs is a thriving creative hub full of exciting emerging talent! 

N: Honestly, cause I love these grls, it was a no-brainer. I know a few New Age Noise collective members also through the All Girl Electronic workshops. I knew I wanted in cause you are all just such great people. Fun loving, music loving and sharers. If you’re reading this and are too shy to come to an event DO NOT BE! Dm them and after chatting to one of the members you’ll feel so safe and loved, trust xx.

RSVP to our show, New Age Noise: Saturn Return via FB.

Book your ticket now.