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Make Classic Cars West the first gallery you check out during this month’s Oakland First Fridays, and support local video artist Lanéya Billingsley aka BILLIE0CEAN at her solo show.  The experimental film director, video artist, and sound designer will teach you HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DEMONS through work that comments on our inner and outer selves, and the importance of self-love.  Her videos drip (both literally and metaphorically) and shine, constantly shifting in a trippy way that reminds you of your deepest feelings and desires.

Flyer for ‘How to Train Your Demons’

Hi Lanéya, tell me about your creative practice?
My work is very introspective. Video “selfies”, if you will.  I build representations of internal landscapes that comment on deep desires, inner demons, and insecurities; and how the outside world (specifically social media) affects our inner selves.  It’s from my point of view, but the themes transcend that.

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Describe your video aesthetic in three words.
Gloopy, seduction, otherworldly.

What are you currently working on?
A lot of music video commissions– I have one coming out in March for a pretty poppin yet humble artist in the Bay. And How To Train Your Demons, my first ever SOLO show.  I’m excited and nervous.  My brain is always in “wait-until-last-minute-to-do-anything” mode, which is a very stressful mentality to have.  Apparently it’s my Gemini Moon to blame for that, or so I was recently informed.


What’s the story behind your exhibition’s title, How to Train Your Demons?  Your work seems so polished and dreamy, where are the demons?
Exactly, my video pieces do feel like that. However, they comment on our childhoods and upbringings (where most demons enter our lives); our insecurities, desires, and jealousies; self-love and feeling love within oneself, especially after the media has stripped you of that self-love.  It’s never really about happy, light subjects.  I love combining heavier topics with ethereal visuals because I don’t want to make an overtly depressing video about these topics.

Instead of presenting these topics in a dark, heavy manner, I prefer presenting them in dreamy, otherworldly ways.  These are things that make us who we are, and we are all beautiful.  We just have to learn to love ourselves (even with our demons) and to love your demons themselves!  Some people think my work is creepy, but I’m never trying to do that… Maybe my heavy viewing of horror movies has influenced my subconscious.


Can you explain @Billie0cean? Does the name come from anywhere?My last name is Billingsley and since I use a lot of ocean/ water themes and sounds, ergo, Billie0cean (with a zero!).  It’s funny, people think I’m referencing Frank Ocean.  And I’m just like nah boo, I love Frankie, but that’s a no.  It’s also a play on the 80s singer, Billy Ocean.

I love the ‘water’ effects in your video work.  Are you a Water Sign?
It’s one of the most natural and pure substances on this planet.  We humans 90% water.  We are made of water, literally.  Water is a life.  It feels very natural to include this idea when commenting on life and the natural, raw self, in a fluid way.

Water is also a conductor and in my work, it’s a ‘conductor’ for our feelings.  Waves and currents can represent crashing, dripping feelings.  I want my work to feel like a raw, clean, and damp mental space where our thoughts can nest and fester.


When did you start working with video? What attracted you to the medium?
In high school and college, I did some plays.  But, my majors were mostly fine arts: illustration, character design and animation.  I didn’t get heavily involved in making video pieces until about 2-3 years ago, after deciding that I wanted to invest more time in film.  I still have a deep love for drawing and animation, though.  

I’ve always been a huge film buff.  I mean, I use the word film instead of movie!  I love so many films, but I don’t necessarily reference their visuals.  Instead, I love how a movie can move me or the way a sound can teleport me.  When a film is really beautiful and its sound is able to move me, that’s what inspires me the most.  I aim to bring out emotions and feelings of beauty from within people.  I’m inspired by feelings.  I’m inspired by sound.  I’m inspired by the way a song teleports me mentally. That probably sounds so “artgirl” of me, but it’s very true.


Your aesthetic also reminds me of video games… do you have any favorites?
I did play Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat and Kingdom Hearts, oh and Mario Smash Bros. I even played the story mode of Smash Bros on GameCube. Who played the story mode of that game? Lol, I feel like I was the only one.  Nostalgia inspires me. I’m a 90s baby, so I’m naturally drawn to these 90s aesthetics because they’re cute and nostalgic for me.

I’m also intrigued by the power of seduction and how the media can seduce or manipulate consciousness.  My work definitely gives off heavy seduction, but it’s an attempt to seduce people into seeing how beautiful they truly are.  I’m sure some people don’t need me to tell them that, but I want to take the tools that the media uses to make us feel half empty and use them to make us feel whole.


Is there anything else you’re inspired by?
Another random and odd inspiration are those I SPY books, which were really prevalent in my childhood.  I personally love a lot of options.  It feels so good in my brain, both visually and mentally.  I feel like a visual hoarder.  You may have noticed that in some of my pieces, especially my earlier pieces, like SPACEBOOGIE__FIND TOM HANKS, ***IN_THE_ARMS_OF_YOURSELF***, _ALLEGORYOFTHESELF_i dreamed i saw myself by a lake___ , I have a lot going on!

Thanks Lanéya!  Check out more of her work on Instagram and Vimeo.  


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Kirsten Chen

Kirsten Chen

@kirstensly bay area art enthusiast and writer

i'm trying to be as famous as the spice girls