Alex Pogosov: PAO Productions Interview
Alex Pogosov is a Dallas area writer, musician, booking agent, and supporter of the local arts scene. His credits include work with the Deep Ellum Enrichment Project, variety and music shows booked at Bill's Records and at the Amsterdam Bar in Dallas, and a stint with the UTD Mercury, where he contributed an occasional music and performance related column. He was the architect and emcee of the Lost Art Open Mic, a weekly gathering of poets, musicians, and performance artists which ran for thirteen months at Bill's Records in Dallas in 2010 and 2011. His current focus is on his own Knife Six Productions, the website for which is slated to go live in early 2012.
Alex Pogosov. Photo by Rosie Lindsey
Photo by Rosie Lindsey

PAO Productions: Thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Alex Pogosov: Hey.

PAO: We'll start off with some basic, generic questions that everybody asks. How would you say you define yourself as an artist?

AP: Ummm . . . inconsistent. There's stuff that I like to do artistically that I've been doing for a long time, but I feel like I haven't reached the point where I can just, you know, do it day in, day out. It's kinda . . . kinda keep going even when the motivation isn't at its highest, I would hope.

PAO: That's how you define yourself as an artist?

AP: I'm sorry I thought you meant like what kind of artist I was. I don't like to define myself. I feel it's too limiting.

PAO: In what way?

AP: 'Cause when you assign labels to something, you kinda feel like you have to live up to it, and kinda keep the myth alive if you accidentally create one.

PAO: Do you feel that you've created a myth for yourself, or a mythos?

AP: I hope not. I tried not to. It helps when you're really kinda sporadic in your work. People tend not to latch on, and assume that you're gonna be one sort of thing, 'cause they don't see one sort of thing consistently. So it's actually the good side of being inconsistent.

PAO: That's interesting. Not quite the kind of answer I was expecting, but I guess I should have. I've seen you perform around town at various venues: Mochalux, Bill's Records, when that was still going on, Mighty Fine Arts, Mad Swirl . . . Which one of these venues would you say best suits your particular style of performance or personality, or do you draw a different vibe from each of these? How does that inform your material or how you present yourself or how you might see yourself as an artist?

AP: It doesn't really change how I see myself as an artist, although I do see my ability to adapt to an environment as being beneficial, so I guess that kind of plays into it. There's . . . I don't know if there's one I like more than any other out of the ones you mentioned; it just kinda depends on the night. I will say I'm kinda disappointed at Mad Swirl's sound system a little bit, 'cause it always feels like when I'm playing guitar there the low end is too high 'cause they have the bass turned up, but that's kinda my fault. I should insist on sound checking better. But that's the venue, it has nothing to do with the host.

PAO: Well as far as your performances at the venues, do you feel that there's one that's more engaging as far as the audience goes, or one that's more inspiring?

AP: I usually tend to be more engaging when I know a large percentage of the crowd, but since that tends to happen a lot, it's pretty engaging everywhere.

PAO: So there wouldn't be one in Dallas that might be more limiting stylistically, aside from any censorship issues?

AP: Oh aside from censorship? No, not really.

PAO: What was it that inspired you to start the Lost Art Open Mic?

AP: Um wow . . . okay. I gotta think back that far. It was just something I really liked back in the day at the old Bill's location. Having somewhere to go weekly and hearing people read poems and actually hearing pieces over and over theoretically would get kinda boring but it didn't really because sometimes it takes several listens for things to sink in. And then I would converse with the people reading the pieces and I'm like, oh okay, so you're telling me this story and that came out in this poem, didn't it? And this line from this poem is about that, and I don't know . . . it probably helped me to connect better with people I chose to surround myself with.

PAO: This being the incarnation of the open mic from 2002-2006, or in your case, 2003 when you first started coming . . .

AP: Yeah, 2003 to . . . well, 2005 was when it officially ended.

PAO: You were the last host.

AP: I was, to my knowledge, unless somebody came up, but Bill hasn't told me anything, so yes, I think I was the last one. I did it in. It was all my fault.

PAO: You found that original open mic because you had come into the store one night, and seen that there was something going on in the back? Or was it Bill who told you?

AP: It was Bill who told me, 'cause I just saw a stage and I wanted to do some standup comedy at the time. This guy I used to run around with named Josh Mullins, who has since moved out to San Diego I think to actually be a standup comedian . . . we would kinda throw jokes back and forth, and I had performed at a Chinese New Year's banquet which was kinda cool. I did a standup bit there and enjoyed doing that and so when I found out that Bill had an open mic my first question was, "Can I do comedy there?" and he said "Yeah, sure," even though it was predominately poetry at the time. I did my comedy thing, and the first poem I wrote - which was untitled for a while but I eventually called it "Following in the Shadow of Generation X" - was written after I became a somewhat regular of that open mic and was exposed to some of the material from the other poets [such] as Max Blair and Joey Cloudy, Jolee Davis, Paul Sexton . . . Mr. Natural, even, who's kinda weird. But yeah, I was driving around one day and I was supposed to be doing this art assignment, but I was NOT inspired to do it, so instead of getting an image in my head that I could later draw, which was the assignment, I got words in my head which I stopped the car and wrote down on the back cover of this book. It was a collection of short stories written by second graders. My story was in there about getting chicken pox and it . . . it was, you know, it was bad. It was second grade level as I was not a genius by any means. I didn't have an above average reading comprehension or vocabulary, reading level, or anything like that. So it was just a shitty little second grader's story and then I took the back cover, I guess it would've been ten years later, and I wrote this little poem on it and people seemed to like it, so then I sporadically wrote others.

Alex Pogosov
PAO: Did you perform any of your work anywhere else prior to your first night at Bill's?

AP: No. I wanted to in my high school in 10th grade. The theater department put on this what they called a poetry slam, but I later found out that it wasn't really a poetry slam in the sense of competitive poetry, like you go there, get points. It was more of an open mic and it was kinda cool 'cause it was in this room with no windows and the walls had been painted black 'cause it was kind of supposed to be this neutral space for the theater kids, and they brought in all these cushions and everybody just kinda sat and relaxed and the teachers didn't mind us saying "fuck." Actually they did mind us but some people did it anyway and kinda got away with it (laughs).

PAO: Interesting. I remember when you first started coming to Bill's you were exclusively standup, whereas today that would constitute a very small percentage of your repertoire.

AP: I do a standup routine like once every maybe two or three years now.

PAO: Besides the musical endeavors and the monologues, or poems . . .

AP: You can call them monologues. I don't really consider most of them poems.

PAO: . . . you find the monologues to be more artistically fulfilling, or more indicative of who you are as an artist, or as a writer?

AP: No I don't. They just come out easier. Sometimes when I was hosting Lost Art I would start telling a story and then I'd kind of realize like ten seconds before the fact, "If I word it this way, it'll probably be funny and get a laugh," and that usually worked and I was happy about that. But I'm always kinda disappointed when I have a comedy set list in my head and I'll go from topic to topic and use these transitions and these'll be the jokes . . . but then I always say that I suck at improv.

PAO: Do you have a skeletal outline of what you want to talk about and then flesh it out based on the reaction of the audience and ideas that pop into your head at the time?

AP: Well . . . that's all banter though, but it's different from the monologues that I write or the little pseudo essays or whatever you want to call them . . . rants, those are kind of like essays. I've gotten enough feedback in seven years of college (laughs) to kinda give me the impression that I'm not that shitty an essay writer, so I kinda do the same thing when I'm doing the monologues but just use less formal language. I have a point and I support that point and I give examples and that's pretty much it. And when I'm really not expecting a laugh I put jokes in there, but I don't know . . . bottom line is I hesitate to do more standup because if people don't laugh I'd kinda be crushed and when I do something like a rant it's more like, ok, I have a point, and people are like, "Okay, I see your point and you've supported that point, congratulations." It's easier to accomplish a goal that way when your goal isn't to necessarily be entertaining but just present an opinion on something.

PAO: You seem to be rather fond of Hunter S. Thompson.

AP: Oh, definitely.

PAO: Would you say that his writing style or opinions have informed your own work in any way?

AP: Yes, but I didn't know that at first. That first piece I wrote, somebody told me I quoted Hunter S. Thompson . . . actually Joey Cloudy told me he thought I quoted Hunter S Thompson, which I kind of subconsciously did 'cause there was a quote from, uh, I think it's from some part of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, that I threw a line into the poem not realizing it had come from that, just realizing I'd heard it before and it seemed applicable to what I was talking about in the piece. And then I kinda liked that comparison 'cause my most of my knowledge of Hunter S. Thompson up to that time, which would've been like fall 2003, had actually come from watching the movie adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas several times, and I hated the movie but they did the voiceovers which were straight from the book and I remember just like loving the voiceovers, like "wow this guy's really a great writer." And you know even though I don't necessarily like the lifestyle or want to be around people who consume a lot of drugs and get into all these weird chaotic situations, just that kind of mindset of being a participant observer - but one that, you know, doesn't just sit back in a corner with a pen but can actually participate in the true sense of the word - was always really cool to me, so I kinda took that from his work and tried to do my own thing with it. And then I got interested in journalism, which I had an interest in since like the fourth grade, but I didn't start wanting to write until like 2004 or so. I had this crazy idea of "I'll just print myself out a press badge and then I can, like, interview bands that I like and ask 'em what they meant by their lyrics, 'cause it's like, 'Uh your song's stuck in my head so I should be able to ask you about it, and this badge says I have an excuse'."

PAO: I remember those. You were going to make me one as a matter of fact.

AP: Yeah, I still am.

PAO: Your politically themed works tend to be rather sardonic and satirical. Do you try to stay away from a more hard line stance on politics because you're afraid of alienating your audience, or is it more a matter of you tending toward satire in your writing?

AP: I don't really have a political affiliation. I don't consider any of my work to be political in intentional ways. I realize that some of the things I say have political implications, but that's because a lot of social issues that I comment on have been politicized so it's just kind of a latent side effect of my situation. I don't know if I answered your question, I'm sorry, but . . . I'm probably kind of a bitter person, but if I were very serious about it I would be unhappy all the time, so I try to approach it with a sense of humor.

PAO: You're not really wanting to portray any particular political affiliation in your work. Is this partly a desire not to pigeonhole yourself into being seen as a certain kind of artist or certain kind of writer? You have certain . . . almost poetical archetypes - like you have the angry gay poet, the angry lesbian poet . . . and it could be poetry, it could be monologues, it could be rants. The angry gay performer has a certain agenda, the political performer has a certain agenda, there's the anti-government agenda, the stoner agenda . . . I'm sure you could name half a dozen other stereotypes. Would you say that you're trying to avoid falling into a trap where people expect a certain type of material or a certain type of attitude or agenda from you when you perform that you feel you need to live up to? Say for instance you were the political poet, or the anti-government poet. Would you feel that you had to tailor your writing to appeal to that sensibility and thus creatively limit yourself as well as limit your potential audience?

AP: Actually, that's never occurred to me 'cause I never felt I was in danger of limiting myself for like going in one direction. There has never been a point where I said to myself, "This is the one type of writing or the one type of opinion that I want to express, the one type of writing that I want to do exclusively." So yeah it never even occurred to me to compare myself to those people. When I see those people, usually I will try to converse with them and pretty much without exception I see that they're not as one-dimensional as perhaps their onstage persona would have you believe. But if it's important to them to express opinions that follow one straight line of thinking, then I guess I can kinda understand that, but that's never the way it is for me.

PAO: You mentioned earlier an interest in journalism. You spent time on the staff of the UTD Mercury?

AP: Yes, I did.

PAO: When was that?

AP: Summer of 2007. And then on and off when I had semesters that weren't super busy, I'd be a contributing writer for them until I think summer of 2008 was when I wrote my last piece.

Lost Art Open Mic. Photo by Lilly Penhall
Photo by Lilly Penhall
PAO: You worked for the UTD Mercury as a contributing . . .

AP: Writer.

PAO: . . . music reviewer?

AP: I had a column where I would do music reviews and commentary. And that was pretty cool but I also felt like I had to kinda prove myself because of organizational issues, like we had upper management change several times and with each new person I had to kinda prove myself over again because I had taken long breaks between my stints of working for the Mercury so they weren't always familiar with my stuff.

PAO: What was the name of the column?

AP: It was called Reverb, and I have to give credit to my friend Kevin Cook for coming up with that, 'cause I was like, "Hey the UTD Mercury is giving me a music column, what should I call it?" and he was like "Hey if it were me I'd probably call it like The Doo Doo Hole, but for you probably Reverb."

PAO: You may have worked for the UTD Mercury, but you had also been involved in several of your own projects to document the local music scene prior to that - local music and other types of performance art.

AP: Yeah.

PAO: In fact, you created the press badge for the express purpose of facilitating that project, didn't you?

AP: Um hmm.

PAO: It was originally going to be . . . would you call it a zine?

AP: A zine, yes. That's kind of the buzz word.

PAO: A zine that was going to document mostly musicians, artists, and performers. You even conducted some interviews for that as I recall.

AP: Um hmm.

PAO: Who were some of the personalities that you interviewed for that project?

AP: I interviewed the band God's Joke. I interviewed Aden Holt, who was the owner of One Ton Records and One Ton Graphics, that put out material by people like Jeff Liles and also local bands like Buck Jones and Slow Roosevelt, Fixture . . . More recently - well I say more recently but this is like 2004 - Upside & the Fed.

PAO: Do you have any plans to make use of any of that material on future projects?

AP: I'll probably make it available online at some point.

Alex Pogosov
PAO: That would be on the Knife Six website?

AP: Yes.

PAO: How would you characterize the mission of Knife Six? What are your goals for that project, and what is it exactly?

AP: Knife Six is just a way for me to kinda bring together all the various projects that I do in one place, and really it's helped me stay motivated with all of 'em 'cause if I unite them all under one brand name I think I'd be less likely to slack off in each. And the goal is just to give a little bit more exposure to some things in the local scene that wouldn't otherwise have it.

PAO: Things that would be below the radar?

AP: Yeah.

PAO: When did you conceive of Knife Six?

AP: Knife Six is a direct offshoot of the magazine I was gonna do, the local music magazine that never really made it which was first called Dallas Exposed and then I changed it to The Dallas Spark for copyright reasons. But the first time I did something under the name Knife Six - or actually I came up with the name Knife Six after the fact - was when I decided to do a little bit of concert booking after booking my first show on January 14th of 2006 when Gods Joke, Obsidian Butterfly, and Black Heart Endeavors played at Bill's Records.

PAO: That was at the old location, right?

AP: At the old location. I came up with the name Knife Six as kind of an inside joke with the singer of God's Joke, who had a t-shirt made up at the time that said "Gods Joke and the 5 Knives' and I thought that was kind of a cool sounding name. And then when I interviewed the band I learned that it was called the 5 knives 'cause he kinda was a paranoid guy and felt to some extent betrayed by other members of the band, so it's like five knives in the back, and I was like - as a joke, I would never really do this - but as a joke I was like, "Hey I'm gonna be, you know, this kind of back stabbing concert promoter who's just gonna exploit you." That's kinda where the name "Knife Six" came from, and I didn't exploit anyone. I charged $5 at the door, I gave half to the bands and I think I ended up with like twenty bucks in my pocket which I spent that same evening at IHOP and it was theoretically enough to recoup expenses for getting the flyers printed and stuff.

PAO: Theoretically?

AP: Yeah. I mean I didn't put it in my wallet and use it for anything other than IHOP food that night.

PAO: And that was your first experience booking a show or any type of performance art.

AP: Yeah, or at least successfully.

PAO: Speaking of God's Joke, you managed them for a time.

AP: I managed them at a time when they were completely inactive, yes (laughs). That is correct.

PAO: You also booked at the Amsterdam bar.

AP: I did, yes.

PAO: A rockabilly artist?

AP: Yeah it was a professor at Brookhaven . . . he was never my professor but he was cool, and I knew he had a one man band act where he played drums with a drumstick that was attached to a hard hat and played guitar and I think he played bass drum with his foot at the same time. That was actually the second show at the Amsterdam. The first one was friends I knew from high school. I don't remember what they were called now, they had like a rap collective. Wow I'll think of it in a second. And then this band called Revolution of Kings. Their bassist was this guy named Bill Walker who worked at a CD store where I went every day after school, like literally every day I'd hang out there.

PAO: Off Lower Greenville?

AP: No actually that was CD Warehouse on Beltline and Preston. And his band actually ended up leaving before the show ever started because there was a [mis]communication between him and one of the people at the venue. So I was kind of mad at the time because he didn't call me and tell me that he was leaving. And then I had a magician Dwayne Andrew who I met through other magicians, that was kind enough to do a show knowing that he would get like maybe five percent of what he usually charges to do that act . . . I cannot remember for the life of me what those guys were called. It was, uh, Billy Alderman, John Humphrey, and Tyler Walker, no relation to Bill Walker from Revolution of Kings, they just happen to have the same last name. And together they were called something . . . I'll have to check the flyer.

Alex Pogosov. Photo by Johnny Olson
Photo by Johnny Olson
PAO: You mentioned that Dwayne Andrew agreed to participate knowing full well that he would see little if any monetary return from this performance. Would you say that there's a sense of community, or enough of a sense of community, among different types of performers and performance artists that overall they would help support a fledgling promoter who's trying to make a name for himself?

AP: I would hope so. I've seen a lot of evidence of that. I've also seen some evidence to the contrary, but you know I don't really know enough people in the scene to make like a hard assessment.

PAO: There's definitely some of that in the spoken word scene in Dallas from what I've seen. At least compared to, say, the visual arts scene, or compared to say the music scene especially.

AP: Yeah the poets and spoken word performers seem to be very supportive of each other.

PAO: There's definitely some fragmentation of course . . .

AP: Yeah.

PAO: . . . and there's cliquishness, but overall . . .

AP: I think it's because there's not that many of them so it's conducive to the scene sustaining itself that, you know, that everybody's not just lookin' out for themselves.

PAO: There aren't that many venues come to think of it . . .

AP: Yeah.

PAO: . . . especially compared to music, where you have Lower Greenville, you have Deep Ellum, you have places in Denton, there's a pretty strong metal scene in Dallas, there's also the singer-songwriter circuit . . . all these things are going on concurrently but as far as spoken word, there aren't that many venues left.

AP: Right. And I don't mean to say that if there were a lot of venues that the people who are being supportive of one another would stop. I think they really do care about each other and they relate to one another so I don't wanna come across as if I'm saying, "Yeah, they're just being supportive 'cause they know that if they weren't as accommodating then there'd be no scene."

PAO: Do you feel that Lost Art made a lasting contribution to that scene in any way?

AP: It's kinda too early to tell, 'cause well I guess it's been, what, like five months or so.

PAO: Almost six.

AP: Almost six months? I was just thinking about this the other day, just the name "Lost Art." I was driving around and it occurred to me that somebody probably had a conversation like, "Hey let's go get some sushi this Sunday. No I can't, I gotta go to Lost Art." You know, the idea that something I came up with and we came up with was a priority for someone at some point is very gratifying. So I hope it's made a lasting impression in the scene but my goal wasn't so much to be remembered for doing something, it was just to do that something. So I guess that was more important. But if I can be thought of as a positive example, that's really cool.

PAO: So as the last host of the original open mic at Bill's, was there any part of that experience that helped prepare you for your time organizing and running the second open mic at Bill's in 2010?

AP: Yes and no. What it took to promote it the second time around . . . there was kind of a learning curve and I figured out that it would take a lot more work than I had initially anticipated because, you know, back then social networking was practically non-existent. I was just kinda taking shots in the dark promoting that original one, whereas [with] Lost Art there was more targeted promotion. But what did help me is just this idea that "I've done this before and I can do it," I guess the confidence was there. I think that [it] was important to start it back up, and then once it got going, it just kind of became what it was.

PAO: It's interesting you say that because there were a number of hosts of the original open mic before you came into the picture. It was started originally by Karen X and co-hosted by Karen and Josh Lewis, who's now in California.

AP: Um hmm.

Alex Pogosov. Photo by Aeone Singson
Photo by Aeone Singson
PAO: And at that point the torch was passed to Jolee Davis and Desmene Statum, and from there it eventually went to you as the last host in 2004, wasn't it, when you took over the reins of the original open mic . . .

AP: 2005, actually. March of 2005.

PAO: One could argue that you walked in to an already well established event with a two year history behind it, some of which occurred before your appearance in the scene; whereas in 2010, you were responsible for everything from organizing to promotion to bringing people on board to help you - basically having some say in every aspect of running the event. Given the added burden of responsibility, what is it that would motivate you to take on a project like that? Was it a feeling that there was a void in the spoken word scene that needed to be filled, were you possibly trying to recapture some of the magic of the original open mic, or was there some other motivation?

AP: Neither of those things really occurred to me. I am horrible at assessing the passage of time, so it seemed like I could just kind of pick up where it left off and it didn't matter that that was, what, five years prior.

PAO: Well in the beginning it did seem as though there was an effort being made to pick up where you left off, to sort of ignore the passage of five years since the ending of the original open mic, but I would say that as time passed, Lost Art began to develop more of its own identity and its own group of regulars. Not many of the regulars actually carried over from the old days, only a few like Paul Sexton, Joey Cloudy . . . I believe those were the only ones.

AP: Yeah, I guess so.

PAO: Are you proud of what you were able to accomplish with Lost Art during its thirteen month run?

AP: I've never really thought of it as being proud, just because I find it hard to take pride in anything I've done.

PAO: Do you feel it was a failure?

AP: No I don't feel it was a failure, I just . . . I don't know, maybe this is like the Zen side of me talking but it's something that I did that happened and, you know, some weeks we had high attendance and I was really happy about that, and I did think of it as an accomplishment at the time, but I have this sense in my mind of, "Okay it was a thirteen month run and it was really cool to do it, but at the same time I don't really feel comfortable resting on my laurels," or something like that.

PAO: What were your main objectives with Lost Art?

AP: To give people who wanted to express themselves an opportunity to do that, and people who just thought of it as entertainment to be able to perceive it that way if they so chose - hopefully to take more away from it than just that.

PAO: Is there anything that you're still wanting to accomplish in the spoken word scene now that Lost Art has had its run?

AP: Umm . . .

PAO: You are still performing at various other venues.

AP: I am, yeah. Force of habit.

PAO: You perform at Mochalux occasionally, you're a fairly regular performer at Mad Swirl . . .

AP: Um hmm.

PAO: . . . and you were a regular performer at the Mighty Fine Arts open mic . . .

AP: And now Crown and Harp.

PAO: And now the Crown and Harp, as a musician this time.

AP: Right.

PAO: You tended to alternate between music, music performances and mostly humorous spoken word pieces at Lost Art and all the other venues. Would you say that you're equally a musician and a spoken word artist?

AP: I don't quantify it so I can't put an equal sign between the two, but I guess you can think of it that way. I don't mind being called a spoken word artist, I definitely don't mind being called a musician, so . . .

PAO: Speaking of music, you also have a band called Scarletien that you've been in for quite a while now.

AP: I do. I just had stickers made. Well I had the plate made to have stickers printed, which I'm excited about.

PAO: Any word on performances or upcoming releases in the near future?

AP: Uh, that is classified information (smiles).

PAO: Okay.

AP: Just 'cause we don't wanna get your hopes up.

PAO: What are your musical inspirations?

AP: Bands I like. Sorry (laughs). That's actually a line from a show where this band drives around in a van solving mysteries and they can see ghosts for some reason, and their lead singer is being interviewed by a music journalist who's also his ex-girlfriend so he gives this answer when she's like, "Who are your influences?" (laughs). But it's really bands I was listening to at the time of the band's formation [that] were the big influences and have kinda stayed the big influences. Mainly 90's acts: Pavement, Green Day, Sublime - we did a lot of Sublime covers starting out and still do, at practice. Nirvana, some of the other grunge bands and other projects by members thereof, some of the weirder 90's and 80's bands from like Sonic Youth to the Meat Puppets, the Violent Femmes.

Alex Pogosov
PAO: Your band had its first public performance in front of a . . . horse, wasn't it?

AP: Yes. I don't know if the horse could hear us 'cause we were sitting in a van driving around . . . Hutchins, I guess? Or Wilmer? And this white pony gallops out in an alley in a residential area, and we were sitting in this van, I was playing my guitar, and Kevin was playing either another acoustic guitar or bass at the time . . . I think it was another acoustic guitar. And so we did an acoustic show for a horse, accidentally.

PAO: Were there any other spectators?

AP: The people in the van. Josh Galloway was driving - it was his van - and I think Kevin's girlfriend Tiinia was there, and possibly our friend Derek Cain.

PAO: Scarletien is a very unusual band name, to say the least. What's the origin of that name?

AP: The word is actually just something that was in the back of my mind from a Russian word, 'cause "cкapлaтинa" ["skarlatina"]  is the Russian word for scarlet fever, and I just thought it sounded cool, but I thought of the spelling when I was listening to a lot of Fluorescein . . . I kinda wanted to do something that was similar musically, so I thought it might be cool to have a name that's similar as well, but we also were kinda toying around with the idea of being a ska band, so at first it was spelled s-k-a-r-l-i . . . wait, however you spell Scarletien. I have to see it written out.

PAO: (spells on paper with pen)

AP: Yeah, there it is. S-c-a-r-l-e-t-e-i-n. No, actually it's i-e-n, otherwise it would be "scarletyne" in the German pronunciation rules.

PAO: How would you characterize your sound, as a band?

AP: Well I think we're slowed down punk. Kevin says we're crunchy folk. He compares us to the Violent Femmes and I like to think of myself as being like Jack White minus looks, skill, and talent.

PAO: You design your own band artwork.

AP: No, Kevin's done some design work, too.

PAO: Mostly flyers, stickers . . .

AP: Flyers.

PAO: T-shirt designs?

AP: Oh we don't have any t-shirts, and I just designed a sticker last week so we didn't have a sticker design prior to that.

PAO: Great. So we should be hearing more of Scarletien in the days ahead?

AP: Uh, classified information.

PAO: Scarletien actually played twice at Lost Art.

AP: Yeah, we did. Kevin was usually busy on Sundays 'cause it's a work night at the 13th Street Morgue, the haunted house that he's a contributor to, being an actor and doing just about everything 'cause he volunteers to do pretty much anything they ask him to do, which is cool.

PAO: You're a musician, a spoken word artist, a former host, a concert booking agent . . .

AP: Yeah.

PAO: . . . and at one time you also tried your hand at writing a collection of short stories.

AP: Uh huh.

PAO: What's the current status of that project?

AP: It's on hold until I'm able to come back and rewrite the stories 'cause I think that the style is a little off-putting. It's too much like my spoken word material, to where I could see how I could read the stories to people I would know but it wouldn't hold up in front of strangers. So basically at this point I'm like, yeah, I worked on this fairly recently . . . well no I guess it's been like four years or so, but it still feels like too recent to where I'm not excited about the idea of coming back to the stories, rewriting 'em. But I will at some point.

PAO: So of all the various projects you've been involved in - journalism, performance art, and so forth - Knife Six is basically all of the activities rolled into one.

AP: Okay.

PAO: Would you say that's accurate?

Alex Pogosov. Photo by Rosie Lindsey
Photo by Rosie Lindsey
AP: Sure.

PAO: Nothing to add?

AP: No, that's pretty much what it is.

PAO: Overall, how would you characterize your trajectory as an artist from when you first exploded upon the scene as a standup comedian in 2003?

AP: I'm still getting started, still looking for that point where I can kinda find a niche and go from there and consistently produce work and a cohesive body thereof. Knife Six, I think the more immediate goal for that is to help other people and to introduce various people with their own artistic endeavors that are as you said under the radar to others such as themselves [who] might have different but not incompatible artistic endeavors and hopefully they'll meet each other and work together, or, I don't know, it'll all be one big creative love fest in the local scene.

PAO: Any aspirations for future projects that haven't gotten off the ground yet?

AP: Umm, I'm thinking of selling crack 'cause I hear it's more lucrative (laughs).

PAO: Artists are all broke.

AP: Ehhh.

PAO: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

AP: Uh let me think. Yeah, I think it's really important to be supportive of artists that aren't producing work. I know a lot of people who get into slumps, who have writing block and who basically kinda fall off the map for a time and I think if you prod those people, you know, your words aren't necessarily falling on deaf ears. You happen to be talking to someone who's, like, bleakly depressed for a period of time and therefore not producing work . . . I think it does do something to let 'em know that you remember they're still there and to encourage 'em, and I think that might help 'em get back to their happy productive selves. So call your depressed, reclusive artist friends (laughs).

PAO: Okay, well thanks very much for agreeing to this interview.

AP: All right. Thank you very much for asking me.

Starbucks, 11/17/2011