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  • Writer's pictureScott Glazier

That Thing is What We Got

Welcome back, friends, family and fans of Speakeasy Tattoo, Los Angeles! It’s that season again! Things tend to get rather hectic and stressful for a lot of people around the holidays under the best of circumstances. This year? Well, need I say more?For that reason, I think it would be a nice opportunity to slow things down a bit. Usually I like to bring you a long-winded history lesson on here (I blame college), but over the next few weeks, I’d like to change it up slightly.

Let’s talk inspiration for a bit. With tattooing, or any visual medium for that matter, inspiration is usually pretty recognizable on an aesthetic level. But art isn’t purely visual. It can be a very personal experience. One can be driven by a countless number of things in ones life that translate into the art they create.

One thing that plays a vital role in the artists’ work, here in the underworld, is music.

This week, we are spotlighting resident Speakeasy artist Jesse Gomez. Jesse takes a lot of visual inspiration from nature. Just take one look at the natural flow of some of his amazing pieces and that much is apparent. But, when asked what his most inspirational albums were, one can see touches of these influences in his work as well.

First off is the Long Beach Ska classic, 40oz to Freedom by Sublime. Some may be shocked to learn that Sublime actua

lly formed in 1988. It wasn’t until 1996, almost a decade later and months after front-man Brad Nowell’s tragic death, that they got mainstream radio airplay and recognition. Calling Sublime a “ska” band almost feels diminutive because their music infuses elements far beyond the limited genre of Ska, including infusions of hip-hop, reggae and dub, making for a chill So Cal classic. And one cannot mention 40oz to Freedom without mentioning the accompanying album artwork that inspired just about every young skater in the 90s. Would it come as any surprise that the now-famous psychedelic mushroom sun face image was created by a tattoo artist?

Opie Ortiz is still working today at Still Life Tattoo in Seal Beach, CA.

Next up on the totem of Jesse’s musical foundation is The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by, you guessed it, Lauryn Hill. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t familiar with the Fugees. With her debut solo album, Lauryn Hill truly showed that she was a breakout star of the group. Fusing reggae and hiphop along with 60s style R&B, Lauryn explores the turbulence in the Fugees, as well as past love experiences and her own pregnancy. The album itself is another chill, immersive experience to just get into the vibe and groove.

Lauryn segues us perfectly to Jesse’s final pick. The classic and often criminally overlooked Oogum Boogum by Brenton Wood. Born in Louisiana in 1941, Brenton grew up in Los Angeles, attending high school in Compton. In college, he began cultivating his songwriting skills and became a competent pianist. Brenton’s smooth vocals, similar to Curtis Mayfield, perfectly glide over classic 60s soul and Southern R&B, giving a bit of a “beach music” vibe to it. Perplexingly, the album never broke the Billboard top 10, peaking out at 34 on the hot 100, but if you want a timeless and smooth, classic, this album is for you.

So hopefully this will not only give you a bit of insight into Jesse’s artwork, but will also give you some new music to groove on for the next week. And when you are ready to have a tattoo groove, hit

Stay tuned next week when we take a look at what makes Nicole’s head bop! Take it easy, kids!



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