I’ve been feeling all kinds of nostalgic these days. I miss my family, my friends, New York City, and weirdly enough, the 80s and the 90s. Those were simpler times when I could wander around the street without making sure there are hand sanitisers in my pockets first (they didn’t even exist then).

To combat all these weird emotions, I reached into the deep archives of my music catalogue and unearthed the soundtrack of my formative years. I painted to Nine Inch Nails, White Zombies, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains…with a bit of Squirrel Nut Zippers, Oasis, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morrissette, Tori Amos, Bjork, Taj Mahal…etc. It reminded me of that one hot afternoon I spent on Randall’s Island at the Tibetan Freedom Concert organised by the Beastie Boys and that had propelled me further down memory lane.

Anyone growing up in the 80s and 90s, especially in NYC, will tell you something nice about the Beastie Boys. Think long hot summer days biking around the hood or walking down the street with songs like “Sabotage” or “Intergalatic” or “Ch-Check It Out” blasting in the background like it’s our own personal soundtrack. An ex boyfriend had scored us some tickets to the Tibetan Freedom Concert and we made our way to Randall’s Island and basked in the sun and watched with wonder at all the biggest names in music play on the same stage that day. Those had been some of the best times of my life and I am slightly miffed at myself for not realising it then.

I’d been mulling over the possibilities of painting another Beastie Boys set, but I wanted it to be something unusual and fun, just like them. After rummaging through my drawers, I decided to do another Shake ‘Em Out set. I gave it some thought and tossed around some possibilities and I finally got my act together and narrowed all the ideas down to two, and then managed to squeeze it in all together.

This set is based on “Triple Trouble” off the Beastie Boys’ To the Five Boroughs album. I had wanted to include all the fun scenes (via costumes) into the set but due to size constraints I picked the best two. This one also features Mixmaster Mike, who was the coolest cat in the music video.

While I was at Lincraft during the height of the pandemic, trying to be considerate and not touching every bottle of paint on display (even though I had squirted a massive amount of hand sanitiser upon entering the store), the idea of incorporating the actual DJ table hit me. So I ran home and organised that as well, feeling pleased because everything was coming together so nicely.

The original goal was to paint the fur on the Sasquatch, but then I would have a bit of trouble with the trick or treat costume. I turned to my big bin of felted wool and quickly piled some fibres onto the creature. The husband and I talked about using different fasteners to keep the vest and chaps on and in the end I opted for snap buttons, which promptly got lost inside the wool as soon as it was sewn on. Since I wasn’t planning on selling this set, I figured it wasn’t a problem. Until it was. Before I even finished painting it, this set was snatched up, so I had to create a little instructional card to go with it so the buyer can successfully find the snaps!

I felt joy and peace whilst working on this set. It’s one of the first sets I painted during the pandemic that got me out of a deep dark funk. I think it had a lot to do with playing around with that day glo green!