Q&A with JJ Jorner
By Jake Smith
How did you get connected with Pyramid Country ?
I’m part owner alongside Jackson Casey and Bobby Green. We’ve been in business now for almost 8 years. Jackson hit me up 11 years ago when he first moved to Phoenix wanting to work together. We didn’t have any money so nothing happened. A few years later, Bobby, some friends and I filmed a point and shoot video called ‘dadcam’. Bobby took it to a whole other level and filmed over 100 dudes, there were 5 friend sections in the video. The premier was the craziest premier I’ve ever been to. Shortly after that Bobby bought a VX and started filming again. I think bobby wanted to keep that spark going and hit jack and I up individually about doing something together. We all met later that week and figured out the direction we wanted to go, the name, Exeter and basically the first 6 months of work in that first night. Pyramid Country and Exeter made their first appearance in Jackson’s last independent video, ‘worship friendship’.
I noticed the name ‘Vessel in Passing’. Did you name the video and if so what’s the symbolism of it to you?
Vessel In passing is the title of a painting series I showed in 2017. The concept originated during the filming of Exeter. Whenever Jackson and I get together to film B sides we have a few things in mind to shoot. It’s always shocking to me how quick that process is in comparison to how long it will take me to build something. Once we’ve filmed everything, we’ll brainstorm on the spot to see if we can come up with anything else. On one of these occasions I came across a cardboard ring from an old Halloween costume I made. I figured I could glue it to a stand in front of a green screen, cut a different color circle, tape that to the green screen and set the camera up in such a way the perspective of the ring and circle would line up. I painted my arm white just past my elbow and the rest green. We filmed my arm reaching through the ring a couple time and that was it. That spontaneous concept stuck with me for years and has found its way back into my art in one way or another. It turned out to be a nice way to imply multi-dimensions, a layered reality, or being in two places at the same time. The ring to me symbolizes a portal into existence from which we pass as the vessel. That’s loosely how we name the videos. If a concept sticks with me or if there’s an appropriate painting title that works we incorporate it into the video. To me every PC video is like a painting, you just title them accordingly.
You seem to have a love/ connection with outer space. Where did that come from?
Who doesn’t love space!!?? I suppose originally it came from being able to ease death anxiety. I don’t obsess over death or have crippling anxiety because of it but it is coming, we all die and we don’t know anything about it. For me, the idea that at any giving point in your day you can look to the sky and try to wrap your brain around the fact that you’re looking into infinity. It’s an easy way for me to ease that fear and at the very least shift my attention to something outside of myself.
Do you experiment with psychedelic substances?
Hypothetically speaking, yes.
Have you ever done DMT? If so can you tell us about that?
I can tell you I was hyped to name one of our videos, “Distant Mind Terrain”.
What’s in the future for you as an artist and the brand Pyramid Country?
My personal art life and the brand are practically seamless. our goal has always been to out-do ourselves from the last project and hopefully inspire. We’re working on a full length, so I’ll start building stuff for that soon. We want to do more collaborations and host more art events. The future looks bright.
What’s going on in Sedona (AZ) - Do you ever go there? I heard that’s a powerful place to go?
Sedona is cool. There’s vortex’s there. I rarely go anymore because it’s become quite the tourist attraction. The whole Sonoran desert is a magical place.
What’s your favorite place to travel to or go to get inspired and why?
My favorite place to go is the road and wherever that may lead. Pyramid country trips are the best, spending time with the squad is always inspirational. Personally, I spend a lot of time in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. It’s a 3 1/2 hour drive from where I live to the beach. It’s pretty lawless as long as you got an extra 20$ (In case you get in trouble). There’s a cool skate scene and the locals are really welcoming. I frequent an abandoned building on top of a hill we call ‘the castle’ that looks out over the sea. My girlfriend and I have been painting in it on and off for several years now. For whatever reason, when I’m painting there or just hanging out watching the sunset I come up with more ideas and concepts than anywhere else. It feels like I’m an antenna up there.
Have you ever seen a UFO or have any supernatural story you can share?
I’ve seen weird lights in the sky that weren’t satellites or shooting stars. The craziest thing I’ve witnessed was when I was camping with my girlfriend and Justin Modica at Lake Pleasant a year before the last low altitude Space-x rocket launch. We were in an open field discussing where to set up. There was a good-sized hill next to us that blocked a large portion of the night sky. I was watching the hill because it looked like a vehicle was approaching the summit from the other side, like head lights were about to peek over at us. As the light reached the top of the hill it maintained its trajectory revealing its shape. It was a large glowing orb that seemed to release a much smaller brighter light from its center. Once the smaller light had vanished the glow of the orb remained for over an hour. We got back from the camping trip and into cell phone service. There were sightings all across California and Arizona. The official statement was rocket tests. The thing that got me was they had to shut down LAX suddenly. You’d think there’d be more of a conversation between the airport and the military if it were a scheduled drill. Call me crazy.