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Satellites #6 - Gralin Hughes

Satellites Gralin Hughes 1Satellites #6

April 18th, 2018 / 8pm

Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra
Franklin Institute Planetarium
222 N 20th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

For Tickets: CLICK HERE


Continuing the exploration started by our Sun Ra Mixtape Series celebrating the influence of the Philadelphia, visionary musician, philosopher, composer and band leader, Sun Ra, Philadelphia Jazz Project present, Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra. This concert series features 8 performances at some of the region's most important venues including; The Barnes Foundation, Ardmore Music Hall, Johnny Brenda's, The Planetarium of The Franklin Institute and World Cafe Live. Hosted by WRTI radio deejay, J. Michael Harrison.


Gralin Hughes (aka television sky) is a Philadelphia based interdisciplinary artist specializing in immersive experience design through set design, VJing and video projection mapping. His artistic practice focuses on collaborating with visual artists, musicians, galleries and museums on how to activate their performances and spaces in ways that engage audiences more actively in the work. Hughes' recent work includes collaborations with muralist Michelle Angela Ortiz, The Philadelphia Jazz Project, and Alex Shaw/The Mandinga Experiment. Gralin Hughes holds an MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design from the University of the Arts and is now working as a freelance artist and an instructor at PhillyCAM: Philadelphia's Public Access Media Network.  When not experimenting in his art studio, Gralin Hughes can be found playing with action figures from my collection of hundreds, or in fighting off dragons alongside his 4 year old daughter.


PJP spoke with media artist, Gralin Hughes about the Satellites Are Spinning Concert Series.

PJP: Can you briefly describe your artistic direction?

Gralin Hughes: When I am creating visuals for a show I start my process by listening to music or putting on a movie in the background to help inspire me. The imagery I work with is some archival film and photos as well as original artwork I create. I work with visuals much like a DJ would work with records and loops, piecing together, sampling and overlaying different things to create something new in live time. I create a loose plan for the performance but everything is improvisational and spontaneous during the performance.


Gralin Hughes 2PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Gralin Hughes: One major influence is the visuals used in the performance by the German electronic group Kraftwerk, one of my favorite bands. I also draw a lot of inspiration from science fiction films—both classic and contemporary ones. As a child of the late 70s and 80s, I also have a nostalgic connection to VHS tapes and I find much of my aesthetic incorporates the lines, glitches and deterioration effects that VHS tapes had. There are also several inspiring projects out there by other artists that have influenced me like the OVC (Outer Space Visual Communicator) a giant machine that is controlled with your hands and feet that allows artists to create and finger-paint with light similar to how musicians create and explore sound with their instruments--it was created by Bill Sebastian who collaborated with Sun Ra.


PJP: Tell us about the mixtape series that inspired this concert series.

Gralin Hughes: I collaborated with, Philadelphia Jazz Project, director, Homer Jackson a few years ago on the Electricity: PhillyCAM Sessions television series. It was a great experience! I appreciated how he gave me the freedom to create the visuals and experiment; he recognized this as its own art form. I loved working with everyone in that project and how it brought together artists from various disciplines. So when he asked me to collaborate again I was thrilled.


PJP: Tell us about the concert Satellites series. What are you planning to present at the Franklin Institute Planetarium?

Gralin Hughes: I am incredibly excited to be able to work with such a unique space; it’s not often that you get the opportunity to be in  planetarium as a performer! My goal is to create compelling visuals that will immerse the audience in a way that makes them feel like they are floating in space. I don’t want to give away too much about it, but if I’m successful I want audiences to leave the performance feeling like they were transported away from this planet for the two hours.


PJP: Why is this theme/concept so important?

Gralin Hughes 3Gralin Hughes: Sun Ra’s influences musically and aesthetically are present in so many other artist's work, but I’m always surprised by how many people are still unfamiliar with his full body of work. This series introduces Sun Ra to a wider audience and even for those who might be familiar with him, it deepens their understanding of his influence and innovation. True to Sun Ra’s creative process, this series brings musicians and visual artists together to create something unique with every performance; no two performances in this series are the same!  


PJP: Who is working with you on this?


Gralin Hughes: While I’m creating the visuals on my own, I’m of course feeding off of the energy of the musicians when creating the images in live time. It’s been an amazing experience to work with such great musicians such as Kim Pedro, DM Hotep, and Bert Harris. Each collection of musicians in this series is collaborating with me, whether or not the realize it or how they are influencing me. The crew who will join us at the planetarium includes...


Kevin Diehl - drums & music director

Keith DeStefano - bass

Adam Faulk - keyboards

Charles Ellerbe - guitarist

Elliott Levin - tenor sax

Frank Rein - trombone

Paul Giess - trumpet

Saudah Al Akbar - vocalist

ELLECT / DJ Ear 2 Ear - rapper/poet

TwizzMatic - rapper/poet

Kevin Valentine - vocalist

Ishamel Wilburn - drums/percussion


*Special Performance by interdisciplinary artist - Lloyd Lawrence

**As well as film excerpts from the works of interdisciplinary artist - Taji Nahl


PJP: When listening to your music what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment? 

Gralin Hughes: Just open your mind and take the journey!


PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?


Gralin Hughes: Jazz has a unique improvisational quality similar to my approach to creating mixing visuals. All of us are responding to that moment in space and time—the people in the audience, the physical space, the other performers—and creating something in that moment in response. Jazz, more than any other musical form, creates the space for that while still having a coherent structure.


You can stay informed about Gralin's Hughes' creative activity via his WEBSITE, TWITTER, or INSTAGRAM.



Satellites #6

April 18th, 2018 / 8pm

Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra
Franklin Institute Planetarium

222 N 20th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

For Tickets: CLICK HERE




Check out Gralin Hughes's visual work in this video from PJP's Electrity Series.


Special Thanks: The Sun Ra Estate, Irwin Chusid, Michael Anderson, J. Michael Harrison, Kim Pedro Rodriguez, DMHotep, Antoine Haywood, Gralin Hughes, James Solomon, Nija Walker, Bobby Zankel, Jay Levin, Agent Zero, Eric Bogacz, Alex Santilli, Gary Dann, Anthony Tidd, Dmani Lopez, Dan Blacksberg, V. Shayne Frederick, Asha Jackson, Julia Lopez, Melissa Talley Palmer, Gail Fountaine, Stephanie Seiple and Rich Nichols.


For more information about Sun Ra:

Sun Ra Estate Website
Sun Ra Arkestra Website
Sun Ra Facebook
Mission Creep Sun Ra Resources
Pitchfork's Essential Sun Ra Music
The Sun Ra Music Archive
Perfect Sound Forever Sun Ra Article
University of Chicago Sun Ra Exhibit

Stay tuned for details about this series!!!


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.