Thursday, December 4, 2008

Breathe Underwater

I was at a local restaurant recently speaking to the owner about music. He brought up something interesting that I had already known about him but wanted to know more about. “It’s so great that you guys love music the way that you do. I mean, with the store and all, you guys are living and breathing this stuff. You probably know my cousin Daniel.” He said. He was talking about a man of many talents: Daniel Higgs.

Most notable as the lead singer/lyricist of the Dischord band “Lungfish”, Daniel is also an amazing artist who has done a ton of work including tattooing. When you first hear his music, it seems somewhat simple and repetitive. Upon further inspection, the genius of his technical arrangements strike you violently. Very biological, very organic, yet pulsing like urgent clockwork, Higgs’s music can entrance the most headstrong listener.

I had the luxury of witnessing one of his past projects “The Pupils” while attending one of the large, free, outdoor Fugazi concerts in Fort Reno, D.C. back in 2000. His stage presence is nothing like a real-life experience with him. His feverish convulsions and anxious spasms were surprisingly calming. When face to face with Daniel you find that he is actually a clam, collected “thinking man”; a far stretch from who he becomes before an audience.

Daniel’s upbringing really determined who he is now. The evidence of biology and medical references are a direct influence from his father, who was a surgeon at the Baltimore Hospital. Daniel also received a lot of his influence from his mother, who fell mentally ill in Daniel’s early years, causing Daniel to explore the outer boundaries of his thinking processes and develop the deep concepts found in his work.

As a fine artist and tattoo artist, Daniel is also phenomenal. A very distinctive style with a foundation of traditional art with an infinite “framework” of metaphysical, higher consciousness. I’ve heard two stories from people who have had the pleasure of being tattooed by Mr. Higgs. The first story was from my friend Don. Don brought a drawing of a butterfly to Daniel and asked him to tattoo it on the top of his wrist. Daniel went into the back and drew a butterfly over and over. He would sigh loudly and then crumble his work and throw it in the trash. After several bouts with his dissatisfaction, Daniel came out with a fresh drawing of a lighthouse and said: “Let me just do this for you”. Don accepted and received the tattoo in the spot he had saved for his butterfly.

Another story I heard was a second hand account of someone asking him for a tattoo of Jesus. Daniel went to the drawing board and came back out with a drawing of what appeared to be a “cosmic egg”. The drawing was of an egg with lightning bolts and UFOs surrounding it. The design was accepted and tattooed.

Daniel currently has no possessions and no ties to anything but a personal banker who keeps his money saved and makes his finances available to him whenever he needs access to them. Daniel travels and answers to no one and continues to be one of the most free, creative people around.

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