By Meghan Jackson
Had you been at Eidé's three-year anniversary party on January 15 this year, you would have — no doubt — noticed the eclectic music and trio DJ-ing and dancing, while wearing what appeared to be homemade monster masks.
Jaws were dropped and phones were whipped out to record videos and Snapchats for friends everywhere. It was entertainment like people had never seen before and it was hard to look away. But to Mike Stasny, a member of the group known as IFLY, it was just a genre of art, which he titles, “What the Fuck?” and his only concern was that people were having a good time.
Stasny is an artist in every sense of the word, a “person-of-all-trades” as he calls it. Though he may be most notoriously known for collaborating with Samwell on the viral YouTube sensation “What What In the Butt” (when YouTube was only 2 years old, nonetheless), he is a versatile musician and has an impressive repertoire of installation work.
His pieces are made from materials consisting of anything from wood to recycled parts to insulation board and often depict faces, animals or creatures; a fascination he says developed from playing in his taxidermist grandfather’s basement as a child. Due to the nature and size of the type of art Stasny so often creates, the pieces, donning names like “Everything That Would Break, I Baroque” and “Real Art, For Your Loft” (which he credits to a combination of sci-fi watching, inside jokes, caffeine and alcohol) are usually taken down and sometimes recycled for his next masterpiece, whether it’s installations, musical instruments, or now performance art.
Which brings us back to IFLY.
It started as a project of Stasny’s and friend, George Long, as a Valentine’s art installation called I Fucking L*** You (they transitioned to the acronym due to hashtag-ability). Combine said installation with Stasny’s necessity-based DJ skills and longtime fascination with partying — both it's portability and as a way to gauge a crowd . Add a third friend, Adrian Barzaga (Stasny is a big believer in Nepotism), and all of their various talents (think costumes, ice sculptures created by way of chainsaw and then set on fire, in addition to being artists) and you’ll get a strange, but charming performance art entertainment group, otherwise known as IFLY (it’s still up for debate whether it should be pronounced I Fly or If Lee).
“Between three of us, we have these different networks in which we can pretty much throw art parties on a micro level. So what we’d like to do is, eventually, just present different packages with a series of different price points.”
It all starts to make sense. The creature masks, the slightly strange music — when put together, it became an all-encompassing aspect that captivated, and slightly confused everyone at the Eidé party. It’s seemingly the exact reaction the group was going for.
“That’s the part that makes it so much fun. If you throw in that element of absurd and it’s not intimidating, it becomes more enjoyable on the classic thing that people can understand, which is DJ-ing and performance art. Performance art can be really heavy-handed and esoteric and intimidating. We’re kind of meeting in the middle.”
Barzaga, the group’s resident circus-art performer, who labels himself a massive introvert in everyday life, agrees, “Once you have a mask on and you’re not sort of preoccupied with that sort of impression that people get from your face, you’re so freed up to let your body express all these crazy fun things.”
But the point of it all isn’t just to entertain or wow the crowds; it’s an art form — performance art, possibly in its most raw form, with DJ-ing as the cornerstone. “It’s just easier for people to understand,” Stasny explains. “You have a certain authority to control the space that way. But also at a standard art show, people are interacting and sometimes the art gets lost … So you make a big piece of art or something that by nature they’re breathing it in.”
And while in a way it’s unclear if Stasny is describing his performance art entertainment trio or a type of super power, one thing is certain… I want them at my next party.