“Art is eternal, but life is short,” painter Evelyn De Morgan once wrote.
We’re not sure if New York-based musician, art director and all-round creative Jeff Burch has read the quote, but he sure seems to be living by it.
The California-born and New Zealand-raised artist - formerly a member of Sydney outfit, Songs, and creative at V and Visionaire magazines - is currently juggling a day job at prestigious creative agency, AR New York, with his role at the helm of independent music and art imprint, The Spring Press.
Oh, and he recently released his first full-length solo album.
It’s a schedule that reads like a recipe for richly creative lifestyle, or a nervous breakdown. But for Burch it seems necessary to do justice to his various interests. That, and pay the bills.
“I have a spirit for art and music, but I need to be pragmatic about it and work at other things too,” he explains.
“Most musicians seem to end up tending bars… not very glamorous.”
Tell us a bit about your upbringing and the places you’ve lived. How have they contributed to your creative development?
I was born in the Palm Springs Desert in California, and grew up in beautiful coastal New Zealand, lived in Sydney for a time, moved back to the States four years ago and am based in New York City. If a feeling of constant displacement can spur creative development, then sure, why not?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger, an architect, but then all that business of protractors and compasses had me running! My father was a professional photographer so I spent weekends in darkrooms with him… that seemed to be on the cards for a long time. I entered the world into music - American folk and blues - so there was really never really any question that that would become a constant.
Tell us about The Spring Press. How and why did you come up with the concept?
It was about eight years ago, and not long after I moved to Sydney from New Zealand. I was probably just suffering from culture shock to be honest. It was just a way of trying to create an alternate reality for myself separate from the electro-neon-pseudo LA energy that the city had at the time, whether or not anyone was paying attention.
How do you decide which artists to get on board?
If most people were to see The Dead C live, or watch Gert-Jan Prins play in Phill Niblock’s loft, I feel like they would do the exact same thing. I’m aware not all the art or music I have put out is to everyone’s taste, but being able to work with living underground legends like Bruce Russell and Richard Youngs is really a privilege, and having the opportunity to share their work with others is something amazing.
You recently released your first full-length solo album. Can you tell us a bit about it and how it compares to your work with Songs?
Well, it’s completely instrumental and I guess it has more to do with composition than rock ‘n' roll. I’ve released records like it previously and was doing so concurrently with Songs. The John Cales and Terry Rileys of the world opened me up to other kinds of music early on, so I formed connections outwards from rock music in direct ways… Street Hassle, Outside the Dream Syndicate, In C, et cetera. In my mind minimalism, experimentalism and rock are quite closely connected.
You’re a man of many artistic talents. Which medium do you feel most comfortable working in?
Art direction obviously comes a lot more naturally to me as I’ve always been around photography, art and design. Music is something I need to work a lot harder at, or give more time to, in order to get anything I’m really happy with. It can definitely be difficult to have the discipline to put aside the hours living somewhere like New York though.
What’s next for you?
The Spring Press will be launching a series of artist prints at Printed Matter next week. I'll be taking artist residencies this year in Venice and Stockholm, so I’ve also started work on a new material. Here’s to violins and thundering bass on the Canals!
The Spring Press will launch its artist edition series at Printed Matter in New York on January 17, from 5-7pm.