Poet and Novelist
Gašper Santl, Chia Amisola, Maya Man and links
Uno woke up before dawn. We sat on our living room couch, him small-talking, I half-asleep. Uno asked where the sun was. It is a common question in our home, and he usually finds rest when I say it is visiting his grandparents in the North. Then Uno asked where our downstairs neighbor was. I told him she was on holiday. “No, not that one. The one who lives down the road. The one who went to the hospital,” Uno replied.
In early summer, our downstairs neighbor fell on the street. He hurt himself and was driven away in an ambulance. When he came back, it happened again, except this time he didn’t return. Kostis was a Greek poet and novelist. He always greeted us with a smile, and on August 7th, he died before we had learned enough Greek to have a proper conversation. I told Uno that Kostis was dead. “Dead. Dead. Dead?” Uno said while familiarising himself with a new word. “Yes, he is dead.” I answered, adding: “Like Pippi Longstocking’s mother,” hoping it would help Uno anchor a concept I still struggle to understand.
Today’s newsletter includes a website about commemorating people who passed away. But it also touches on all the things I find much easier, including a re-introduction of the Reader interview. I believe the reader interview connects you with each other and shows the diversity of people interested in the quiet, odd, and poetic web. In the second season of reader interviews, I’ll prioritize people who make things, preferably in foreign languages, like today’s interview with Gašper Santl, who sings in Slovene.
Bihrmann.com is the perfect personal website.
Sun Letters can only be read while the sun touches your sky.
Ang Bantayog is a collective commemoration.
Every website deserves a media interview like this with Chia Amisola about their latest site (linked above). And every media deserves an interview with Chia. I’m genuinely impressed with everything Chia touches, including the words they use to describe their work. They are incredible.
A website positing itself as a memorial might be doomed. Dwelling on the web itself means continuously losing access to one’s own past. I’m creating something that by nature is designed for its own disappearance, as a memorial to those who have disappeared. — Chia Amisola
This well-written interview with Maya Man is a good introduction to her work. Maya travels on the technological hype train: adopting social media platforms and generative ai. But rather than outsourcing, optimization, or profit extraction, she uses the internet infrastructure to seed wildflowers.
I feel a lot better when I’m not thinking about trying to get a boy to like me. — Maya Man, 8 years old.
Reader interview with Gašper Santl
One of our favourite family activities is to listen to zalagasper songs on YouTube. Uno knows the videos by heart and waves eagerly whenever he spots Zala or Gasper. This week, I spoke with Gašper about morski psi, the latest zalagasper single — and a real late summer hit.
K: The song is full of emotions, where were you when you wrote morski psi?
Gašper: The song is inspired by our trip to Mauritius and visiting you in Greece. Basically, wherever there are palm trees resembling giant pineapples. I find pineapples very cool. It originates from Seinfeld, where George says pineapples are a dangerous fruit because of all the spikes, concluding: "You can get killed from one of those things."
In morski psi, I sing: "I hurt myself on a pineapple, in the middle of a garden full of flowers." It is a metaphor for my life. Mostly, it is nice and calm, but I can always find something that bothers me. The song reminds me to make a clearance in the jungle of emotions and decide what emotions I can use to create something or go somewhere.
K: On that note, how did you decide to make a zalagasper song with you as the lead singer and Zala as supporting vocal?
Gašper: Zala is going back to college to fulfil her dream in the field of literature that she left in time of Eurovision. I’m basically covering for her. We still do music as always. I’m taking over all the activities outside the song creation, so she has the time to study and build her career. I was doubting the decision until the release date. I was afraid that everyone would reject me, and this would break the band and be the last zalagasper song.
This band means a lot to me. I'm ready to invest my entire life in it. When I wrote the song, Zala needed a break from music, she didn’t even listen to anything besides the sounds of nature. She still gave me all the support, helped me with finding my voice and believed in me more than anyone.
K: On YouTube, your credits say: “All - music, lyrics.” Why do you want to do everything yourself?
Gašper: I hate telling people what to do and how to do it. I prefer to learn the skills myself, even if it requires more energy and, in the beginning, brings worse results. I'll improve over time and gain new skills I can use to create what I want, when I want. It holds me down when I feel dependent on others and bound to their time, and it goes against the nature of how I create. Whenever I am inspired, I want to realise the vision myself, because much is lost when I explain the emotion of a sound to someone else. Especially because I have a very clear vision of the sound in my head.
K: You still engage a lot with mentors. Tell me a bit about the role of mentors in your life.
Gašper: I am in an amazing friendship with all of my teachers. I learn not just the skills they are supposed to teach me but also from the way they drink tea and coffee. I appreciate it when someone takes time and shares a conversation with me. It feels generational. Most of my friends I really look up to, my mentors and band members, are older. The same with my parents. I find it important to look at my parents and myself and see what works and doesn’t. No one is perfect. I always felt that taking just one person as an idol is not enough. Instead, I have this community that made me who I am.
Zala and I were considering how we could give back to our parents. I asked one of my professors, and he said I would probably never be able to give back to my parents, but I could forward the favor to our community and younger generations. A lot of times, the most you can give someone is to believe in them. I am gradually moving in the direction where I don’t have myself in focus so much: I don’t always calculate where I profit, I am becoming less self-focused and egoistic, and I like this about myself.
K: Final question: is it intentional you often include water in your songs?
Gašper: It is not. I like to stay on solid ground. I prefer control. Water feels like I am totally out of control. Water is this mysterious element: it reflects your image when you look at it, and the moon has this relationship with the water flow. I love this element. It is so romantic. When I am at the seaside and look at the water, I have this calm moment, pure bliss. And waves are like emotions. In the song, I say I’m floating on the water with sharks around my mind. Floating on water is how life is. How much do you control in life? Almost nothing.
Find zalagasper online.