Everything clicked for 18andCounting last summer.
The pioneer of experimental hip-hop and art from St. Louis, also known as Stan Chisholm, had spent a few years of teaching experience full-time and was thriving there. He had finally figured out how to balance his disparate artistic interests, which spanned from music to many visual arts, and got comfortable shifting gears between all of those things. It was perhaps his best summer yet.
Except this summer might overtake it.
“All the systems are working right now, from the state of my studio, the quality of the paintings I create, the variety of collaborations I have, my connection to the neighborhood, the teaching,” says -he. “It’s just, like, anything goes.”
Last month, as 18andCounting, Chisholm posted A KIND OF FUTURE, a seven-track album that he performed, produced, recorded, mixed and engineered himself. He is also working on an instrumental companion album to be titled SAME KIND OF FUTURE which will be released this fall and an as-yet-unreleased album by his band, TheOnlyEnsemble, which is due out this winter.
“The album is about tangible electronics, vocals, dissonance, confrontation, sonic mutations and joy,” he wrote on Instagram.
But that’s not all: He’s working on a mural at the Boulevard Hair Co. in Webster Groves (his second for the company), gearing up for Paint Louis in September, and hoping for a few more public art projects all over the world. line. He is also working on a coloring book, inspired by his students.
Not to mention all the concerts in preparation for 18andCounting and TheOnlyEnsemble.
“I think maybe it’s just a matter of maturity,” he says. “It could be a fear of death, I don’t know. No matter what happens, I’m like, ‘Let’s put it all together.'”
As a musician, Chisholm is a thing unto himself – whether through vinyl or modular ensemble, solo or with TheOnlyEnsemble.
It transitions easily from one midrange to another, creating a unique sound while delivering substantial lyrics. A series of rhythms, acoustics and frequencies, the music feels like high vibrations that keep the listener present in the moment as each sound becomes more unpredictable yet rhythmic.
Chisholm, originally from St. Louis, came naturally into his music. His artistic career began in CP, when he took a liking to the visual arts. He became a student and featured artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art during his senior year of high school, which he considers the start of his 18-year career. The museum chose her drawing, a “kind of cartoonish character”, as a donor gift for Emily Pulitzer.
“Getting compliments from strangers and seeing how it all works, that was the big deal for me. It was definitely a big moment for me,” Chisholm said, explaining that he then followed and completed four years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Although his first love may be visual art, throughout his life Chisholm has used music to connect, find opportunity and move forward. Upon returning from Chicago, he realized he needed a new way to network and decided to become a DJ, which he describes as a game of chess to infiltrate the spaces he aspired to be in. as a visual artist and mood curator.
“When I came back from Chicago to St. Louis, I realized I didn’t have my DJ friends and the events and things I was listening to weren’t there,” Chisholm said. “So I started DJing really as a way to kind of just be on the way. Like I knew if I did this event I could invite whoever I wanted to be there, and I can design the flyer, and I can hang things from the ceiling if I wanted to.”
His first billed show was courtesy of Josh Loyal of 2720 Cherokee (now the Golden Record) in 2010. What Chisholm thought were short sets between local acts became a full hour set at midnight that ended then immediately turned into a weekly spot. This was the turning point of his career as 18andCounting and became the basis of his platform and a hub to network from and within as he developed as both a DJ and visual artist.
“2720 in particular is really important to my career, not only to open up and connect with huge national artists who inspire me, but it’s also [how] TheOnlyEnsemble was born,” he says.
In 2015, Bill Streeter invited 18andCounting to perform at Lo-Fi Cherokee, a local showcase for eclectic-sounding musicians and artists, and a musician he had met there, Brennan England, was the first person whom he contacted to join him. a performance. Eventually TheOnlyEnsemble was formed, which consists of Cannon DeWeese, who plays drums and electronic percussion; Juan Luchini, who plays keys; and England, who plays his rendition of a didgeridoo, which he calls a slide didge (a hybrid with a trombone), whose origins date back to early tribal Australia.
As a group they have performed on the historic Becky Thatcher riverboat as well as at the City Museum, and Chisholm regularly DJs at venues such as the Royale and the B-Side.
As the band’s vocalist and solo performer, Chisholm became known for using two microphones, using different effects on each and improvising the sound during his synth sets. He also assembled his own modular synthesizer, which helps him create his unique experimental electronic sounds.
“I can’t really pretend [that] I built my own,” says Chisholm, explaining how he’ll reconfigure the components to bring the instrument to shows. “It’s nice to have customizable instruments because I can kind of adapt them to work.”
Chisholm’s latest work, his album, didn’t start with a specific sound but rather a title idea. The phrase “some kind of future” came to him in February, but he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Next, he did a photoshoot with Chris Bowers, who produced experimental, dreamy shots full of soft colors and strong linear light paths. Looking at the results, Chisholm realized that he not only had a title but also a cover.
Digging into the work, Chisholm realized he either had the makings of one very long piece of work or two separate albums. Thinking about the average person’s attention span, he decided to do both. A KIND OF FUTURE and SAME KIND OF FUTURE.
Most of the work was done during the three-week summer vacation at Kairos Academies, a year-round school where Chisholm teaches middle school visual arts. Integrating everything during this time was an invigorating challenge that required long nights.
To have done all of this in such a short time seems so far from where Chisholm was 19 years ago – just after stepping into contemporary for his first real contact with the arts.
“As a child, you don’t choose your life path, you just follow what it is,” he says. “But I always liked it because it gave me a very broad perspective.” not
Check A KIND OF FUTURE on Bandcamp and most streaming platforms; it will also be available on vinyl eventually.