In 2005, artist Damien Hirst launched Other Criteria, a publishing company that works with both established and emerging artists to produce unique artworks, publications, prints and photographs. In collaboration with Flea, the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist, the pair have produced a series of unique spin-painted bass guitars, bridging the worlds of art and music, with all proceeds going towards the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. Here, Life+Times catches up with Flea and finds out how a trip to Mexico provided the launch pad to this colorful project.
Life+Times: How did you come up with the idea for the project?
Flea: We came up with the idea when we were hanging out in Mexico and I was rocking bass, he was painting pictures–it was kind of an inevitable result. Damien is a very generous man; he is just the type of person who wants to share his art with other people. He wants to help people wherever he can. He wanted to help my non-profit music school, The Silverlake Conservatory of Music, and liked the idea of the basses I was making.
L+T: Tell us about your charity.
Flea: The Silverlake Conservatory is a non-profit music school I started about ten years ago. We have approximately 700 students, about 300 of whom go for free. It is not about being a rock star or a celebrity, but academic instruction, technique, and performance of the chosen instrument. We teach private lessons, and ensemble classes. All the orchestral and band instruments are taught. When I was a kid, I was up to no good, on the street, committing petty crimes and doing drugs. The one thing that gave me a sense of discipline, self worth, community, and something to believe in was the music I played in school. Music education saved me from a very destructive path I was on.