INTERVIEW: JW Caldwell

Danielle Kelly is an artist and writer based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kelly’s project-based practice ranges from installation to performance and has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Portland. Kelly’s writing has appeared in such regional publications as Las Vegas Weekly and Desert Companion. Kelly is the Executive Director and Curator of the Neon Museum. She has done a series of interviews with artists with ties to Las Vegas for celebration of our music issue.


1) What is your relationship to sound in the studio?

My studio practice is pretty chaotic. I like to be able to jump between a couple of projects depending on things like drying time, experimentation, and unexpected inspiration. A quiet studio isn’t really conducive to that kind of behavior, so I like to keep the music cranked up to the point where the neighbors are just about to complain.

JWCaldwell2) What is your relationship to music in the studio?

Many of the text based pieces I have done recently actually pull lyrics out of songs I like, so to have music playing in the studio is an active part of my creative process. Depending on the nature of the work, I may play some fast and aggressive punk or metal, or it may be some relaxing and comforting Lionel Hampton; the music does tend to match the moods (both my mood and that of the work).

3) What, if anything, is in heavy rotation in your studio right now?

Mariachi El Bronx is usually not far from my playlist. Rocket From The Crypt is a standard go to. Currently, I’ve about worn out El P’s Cancer For The Cure. He’s got a great cadence and pretty smart and sarcastic lyrics. When I do get sick of that album, I’ll put on Aesop Rock’s Skelethon for the same reasons.

4) What would be your desert island studio record?

My desert island record anywhere, of all time, forever and ever is and will always be Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger. My dad played it out to death on every fishing trip for my entire childhood, as though it was the only cassette we owned. I hated it with a burning passion; I found it trite, facile, and boring. It wasn’t until I hadn’t heard it for years that I could again listen to it. Once I got into “Outlaw Country,” I realized what an amazing concept album it is, and what a heartfelt singer and songwriter Willie is. And his guitar work is beyond reproach. Then again, maybe it just reminds me of fishing with my dad, a memory I will always cherish. Plus, it’s an album about a spaghetti western, and I loves me some spaghetti westerns!


JW Caldwell roots lie in a small western town where the image of the cowboy loomed large. Find some of his paintings on Trifecta Gallery’s website here.

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