Shaun Teemer aka Highwesthus is a highly creative rapper, illustrator, animator and director -- all facets of an artist with a distinctive style and ambitious vision. A 2012 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, Highwesthus has since devoted himself to finding the best outlets for his art, whether it's co-founding Strange Paper Studio, an independent multimedia collective, or aligning himself with Shane Evans's Dream Studio LLC, or releasing the epic The Trilogy series of albums, the latest chapter of which was very recently released. We are proud to welcome Highwesthus to Listen Local.
Introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
I am the artist HighWesthus, illustrator, animator, director, and musician. I live and work in KCMO.
Talk about your brand new album, Part III. The ILLU, especially in relation to the other two parts in this trilogy. How does Part III complete the series?
My most recent album is "PART III. The ILLU," the last in a series of albums I collectively call 'The Trilogy.'
PART III is very important to me because it not only puts and end to the overall story, but it also relates to my personal growth as a creator. PARTs I, II, and III are my first and only albums, so they progress thematically as well structurally. Similarly, The series itself is about change, good and bad, literal and figuratively. The Dead, The Wise, and The Illu respectively are about re-birth, new knowledge gained, and transitions made. Each track in some way is a reflection of our own world, the things that we see, and the world in between that.
You’re also a successful visual and video artist, describing yourself as a “multi-disciplined creator for the Information Age.” In your opinion, what is the role of art in the age of information overload?
Art in the information age overload is more relevant than ever. I believe it's role is to bridge ideas and build connections. Art, especially visual and video art, is used to guide people's opinion and emotion. Art and design is in everything we have, so with the digital inclusion, visuals are being seen and processed way faster. To be multi-disciplined to me in the information age, means more opportunities to connect with more ideas. In a time where media is instant, it's also a great time to try different things. Being multi-disciplined in any form of study is something I advocate for, and I believe will someday be the norm.
Tell us about Strange Paper Studio. How did you get involved with this project?
Strange Paper Studio is independent multimedia collective specializing in video, animation, print, and design. It was co-founded by myself and 3 friends from college Matthew Garcia, John Berry, and Keegan Rogers. It started with the dream of continually creating projects of interest, while also helping support each other. It has grown to 6 members in total including myself and we do freelance work of all kinds, for people of all interest. It's an honor to still get to do work with my friends. You can out more about that collective at StrangePaperStudio.com.
What inspires you about the Kansas City-area hip-hop community?
What inspires me about the KC-area Hip-hop community, and KC community in general, is the local pride it has for each other. People sleep on Kansas City, but there is so much talent. I'm honored to rep with KC.
Highwesthus's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
MARCH by John Lewis
Back to the Future by Robert Zemeckis (DVD)
2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick (DVD)