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Feeling OK in the Backyard

Idol Brain at the OK House backyard 7/24/20

Alex Derderian is a visual and video artist working in Lowell, MA. She is a cofounder of Triple Yeah Productions, a multimedia project, and a member of the band Inspector 34. This interview, done over Zoom with clarifying information over email, covers her ongoing series called OK in the Backyard. It has so far featured Dei Xhrist, Michael Dailey Jr., Fomosurfer, Dad Doxxer, Dead Towel and Idol Brain. The interview also covers how it’s been being an artist during the pandemic and her future projects. It has been edited for easier reading. 

Where did the OK in the Backyard series come from? 

So, OK in the Backyard [is] actually a public access show that I make through my work at Ipswich Community Access Media, which is the Public Access Center in Ipswich.

I started it at the end of May, early June, kind of as a reaction to all the shows and stuff getting canceled and my shoots at work getting canceled. I’m [also] very active in the music scene and my house show venue is the OK House.

[What] I wanted to do is show that I could have performers kind of come to the backyard as not really an online kind of streaming show, like how people are doing, [but] more like a video piece.

How many videos are out? 

There’s about six of them that are out right now on YouTube. There’s about eight more that will be coming out.

How did you choose the artists?

I wanted it to kind of be a nice view of all the different music that we have in Lowell. I didn’t really want there to be a ton of bands doing it because of COVID. 

It started as, “Okay, we have some acoustic people, we have some noise people, we have some electronic. We have someone who just does piano.” I just wanted it to be a big mix of everything.

I did a call on Facebook and kind of was like, “Hey, I’m going to do this series, just DM me.”

I also reached out to a couple people I thought would be fun to shoot and edit.

Has it been fun?

It’s been super fun.

I wanted to kind of capture the yard changing throughout the seasons and melt that into [the performances] through the editing and effects and stuff and show the impermanence of the backyard as a reminder of the pandemic being impermanent, that it will be over. You can see bits of our garden and tomatoes and leaves turning, and flowers that were only there for that day.

It’s kind of funny, it started as, “Oh, I’m going to just shoot bands.”

It kind of turned into being like this kind of psychedelic, trippy, crazy looking thing, which made it way more exciting to edit than if I just did a conventional kind of [editing].

It’s a collaborative thing 

Yeah, and I let the artists know that this is kind of like a collaboration.

Also, the other people that work with me on the show, like my friend and local artist, Stephanie Lee, draws little drawings for each show that I use in the title and stuff.

Is it hard being an artist during the pandemic? 

I think that people are going to find ways to create no matter what, and I really think that writing and creating starts with being alone. I think it’s very important to the creative process. It’s crucial to that.

I mean, I love performing. I do comedy, and we were doing a ton of shows right before COVID hit. And I usually screen my videos, live film screenings, and we’re still doing that online. So, people still are seeing it.

There definitely is a huge piece missing. I love booking shows and posting events and stuff. But I think it’s okay that we’re having a break right now with that.

The only thing I’m worried about is all the venues closing. [That’s] what makes me upset.

Could you tell me about Triple Yeah Productions? 

Triple Yeah Productions is a video, performance and music project between me, Niklas Kelliher and Silas Price.

It kind of has two elements to it. The video aspect is comedy videos that are kind of weird, absurd videos that usually me and Nik make. Sometimes Silas makes the music for it. The other aspect is the performance part of it, which is like a puppet show with all these guys with giraffes and monkeys and stuff. We do different songs and stuff. 

It’s a multimedia show. So, I’ll have a PowerPoint, and we’ll do the songs, you know, backing tracks and stuff.

[We’re] coming out with our first tape in early January or February, which will be released through FishPeopleBirds and Sad Milk Collective. That’ll have all the songs on there. The full thing is called Giraffe Goes Back to School: The Musical & The Pencil Shaving Rainbow. There’s a song called “Mall Shop Therapy,” [one called] “Let’s Frack at My Place.”

What’s the best part of producing OK in the Backyard?

I really love seeing the glow of the people who have probably not left their house and probably haven’t performed in front of people just being so happy afterward. Yeah, that makes me feel really happy.

Are there other things you’re working on right now? 

I play drums in [Inspector 34]. We’re going to have our full length record, Love My Life, out, I believe December 4, which we’ve been working on for years. That’s finally going to be out on Sad Milk Collective, which is a record label/collective that a lot of us are part of.

A lot of artists that are on the OK in the Backyard are part of that collective. So, that’s some pretty big news, because that’s been in the works for a long time.

We’re going to have a music video that’s going to be coming out for that. That’s animated by Jim Warren, who’s the lead singer and lead guy in Inspector 34.

I’ll be dropping some new comedy videos with Triple Yeah Productions, also.

When will the next OK in the Backyard episodes come out? 

I’m hoping kind of every couple of weeks. They’ll kind of trickle, probably into the winter for sure.

And I’m really hoping the series will continue next year or as soon as the weather gets better again. It’s been really fun to do them.

-Michael Parke

To check out all the videos like the one below visit the full playlist on YouTube: