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Jason Of All Trades

Image retrieved from Jason Louiselle website.

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As Phoenix Based Artist Jason Louiselle Prepares To Close His Show At Cloud City He Opens Up With Modern Times Magazine About Moving To Phoenix, How He Built The Wooden Tree And Playing The Bass

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By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

April 24, 2014 — “I’m an artist, that’s what I do,” was Jason Loiselle’s answer when asked to pick his trade of choice.

Coming from a man whose home, dubbed The Wooden Tree House, is like an artist colony in the middle of Phoenix and who is also a nationally recognized tattoo artist who taught himself how to play bass, the statement is not merely a casual boast.

He’s even adding a new element to his art, having designed and built the interior the soon to be hip nightspot Cloud City, 1346 W. Roosevelt St.

On April 27 at 6 p.m. Louiselle will be putting all of those talents together for the closing of his current art show at Cloud City, where he will be displaying his art, as well as performing with his band The Last High on a stage that he built.

In between all this activity, the Elkhart Indiana sat down to talk downtown Phoenix and just how he taught himself to play the bass.

Modern Times: How'd you end up in Arizona?
Jason Louiselle: I graduated from college and moved out to New York City and lived there for a couple years and checked out the big city. Since I’m from the midwest I know the wooded areas, and I knew the big cities so I wanted  to try something different.

MT: Do you have a favorite project?
JL: My studio house. it’s like this compound of three houses combined. it just kinda like  grew organically and when I needed more space, I wanted to have a place where I could have my artist friends come and hang out and be just like a really creative almost like a factory where I could help out and support other people by letting them use my stuff. So we could just create a whole bunch together just have it be relaxed and you can be as weird as you want.

MT: When did you start Wooden Tree?
JL: I think 5 years ago, I moved in like around summer. I had just this house and the first thing I did was build a stage in the back cause I wanted to have music in my life so I figured if I build a stage I’ll get musicians over here and they can play and I can promote my art and we can just have fun. There has been really fun shows over here where there's been like 200 people and a whole bunch of bands and you know it’s like before the whole neighborhood changed. We could party until like 6 a.m. with live bands playing. I felt bad for the neighbors, but they never really called the cops and it wasn't every night it was like once a month.

Expansion goes back to the police, as well, sort of. I had my studio in the back of the first house, 1021 Roosevelt, and I was just having people come over and checking out my art work and buying art from me and my girlfriend at the time wasn't to fond of having all the people in and out of the house. The house next door opened up and it was from the same landlord and I figured I’d pick that up and live there and keep this (1021 Roosevelt Street) as my studio. So I could give it a more professional and gallery look to it. I started having shows cause I had the stage in the back, but the next-door neighbors on the west, I thought they were calling the cops because all of the shows were getting busted up. So I went as far as to rent another house so I could be the neighbor on both sides so the neighbors wouldn't call the cops. I got the third house, and I’ve been really trying to get into music. So I wanted to put tenants in the third house who could help me do that. We could just inspire each other and they could teach me about music and help me get into it.

MT: What does Wooden Tree mean?
JL: Because I built this big wooden tree out in the front yard and I did that maybe five years ago right when I got to Phoenix. I was just bored and walking around the alley ways and I saw all this lumber.  People were throwing out lumber because the neighborhood was getting remodeled and a lot of wood was getting thrown into the dumpster. I was like I’m going to put it back together into a tree and the name just came about. I like it cause its redundant, of course a tree is made out of wood.

MT: When did you start noticing a change in the neighborhood?
JL: About three years ago. The old neighbors started moving out and new people started moving in because Garfield is like the hip cool neighborhood. But you know they're moving in and some of the people are complaining about it. Like they move into a neighborhood that’s cool, and they’re like, wait a second, those people party too much so I’m just going to call the cops and complain because I didn't know what I was getting into.

MT: Does the change in attitude of the neighborhood make it harder for you to create here?
JL: I don’t know, my house kind of got labeled as a nuisance house. So, like, creating my work isn’t so hard its just the parties that go on to promote my stuff and having shows and trying to have a little hub of culture that’s getting shut down. Because of more police in the neighborhood. and since its like a nuisance house they just patrol, they roll by slow, roll down their windows and see if they can hear noises coming from my house.

MT: Tell me about the bigger shows that have happened at Wooden Tree?
JL: Wizards of Time played here, Coats and Villa, and Hooves. Hooves had their going away party over here that was a fun show. One show I had there was like a Greyhound tour bus in the back yard me and my buddy Bradford were fixing up his tour bus to do a tattoo tour across the country. We were fixing up the tour bus to be a mobile gallery and when the bus was back there we had Coats and Villa in the bus and Djentrification played the bus. Everyone loved it all my shows and parties got a lot of respect.

MT: So besides being an artist you play bass in a band as well correct?
JL: Yes, my band is called The Last High. I play bass and sing lead and I’m in it with Aaron Hjalmarson from The Haymarket Squares on drums, Mickey Hamilton on rhythm guitar and Ben Thomas on lead guitar.

MT: How long have you been playing bass?
JL: Four months.

MT: Have you played instruments before?
JL: Saxophone in 8th grade, but I was horrible. I also got a guitar when I graduated high school and played with it for like a month, but then I sold it. I didn't have time and I was focusing more on my art.

MT: So why'd you decide to get into music?
JL: Well I had always wanted too but I thought I had to focus on my art and on tattooing cause that would pay the bills. If I put the time into that which I have now I can relax on getting better as an artist, a painter and a tattooer and take the time to learn the bass.

MT: Why did you start as a Dandy Warhols cover band?
JL: Because they are my favorite band, and their music is all over the place, and that relates to my art, ya know. They don’t want to be pigeon-holed into one genre and I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into one style.

For more information and images of Jason Louiselle visit http://jeremiahphoto.smugmug.com/People/JasonLouiselle/n-vKvxm/i-3bHMGBC

Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at jmoses@moderntimesmagazine.com.
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