The Brief

2017 Roundup


The Brief is Silent Frame's short-form interview series: big questions, small word count. This roundup is a summary of all interviews featured in The Brief column in 2017.


There was a great deal of variation between the artworks recommended by our interviewees – often within the same interview. Writer Yiyun Li (Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life) picks the endlessly enjoyable Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz alongside Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 7, while Smith Henderson (Fourth of July Creek) selects the celebrated strategy game series, Civilization, and the Melvins’ sludge metal album Bullhead.

Several authors share their thoughts on discovery. Nadifa Mohamed (The Orchard of Lost Souls) sees it as ‘that subtle shift when you realise that you have been living a smaller life than you thought you did’. For Marina Lewycka (A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian), discovery is about ‘learning from how others have solved artistic problems’, and for Evie Wyld (All the Birds, Singing), it is about ‘finding a pathway towards something creative’.

Other short story writers and novelists offering their two cents on their craft include Lisa McInerney (The Blood Miracles), who encourages risk-taking, warning that artists will ‘find little truth in caution’. Tackling one of The Brief’s typically big questions, Julianne Pachico says that anybody is capable of making art, regardless of age, background, or public exposure, while Salvatore Scibona asks whether ignoring the news is moral.

Filmmakers and screenwriters

In her interview for The Brief, Emma Donoghue, author and screenwriter of Room, applauds a post-apocalyptic play by Anne Washburn based on an episode of The Simpsons, and talks about how parenthood has affected her creativity. Filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming suggests that we acquaint ourselves with Bang, Ai Weiwei’s ‘whirl of 886 antique Chinese stools’, and Claire Carré endorses The Tribe, a mafia-themed film shot entirely in sign language.


In 2017, The Brief celebrated the musicians behind some of the year’s best electronic albums. In the series, Blanck Mass (World Eater), one half of experimental duo Fuck Buttons, declares his love for Tom and Jerry’s Cat Concerto; Oscar-nominated composer Hauschka (What If, Lion OST) praises Alexander McQueen’s fearlessness; and producer Lusine (Sensorimotor) gives a nod to classic electronic albums by Fennesz and Röyksopp.

Annie Hart (Impossible Accomplice) of Au Revoir Simone cherishes the joy of visiting libraries on her travels, while fellow synth pop act Yumi Zouma (Willowbank) acclaim Taika Waititi’s silent short film, Tama Tu. Waititi crops up in three The Brief interviews in 2017, also receiving plaudits from dream pop musician Amber Arcades (Fading Lines) and author Evie Wyld, who likens him to Wes Anderson, ‘but with more heart and less whimsy.’

More musicians

Other works noted for their humour include the television series Broad City, which singer-songwriter Doug Tuttle recommends, and the Wendy’s advertisement ‘Where’s the Beef?’, which producer Black Marble opts for. Another recurring choice was Frida Kahlo, whose fans include Jessica Curry, composer and co-founder of the video game studio The Chinese Room (‘I have no words to describe my admiration’).

Most entries to The Brief end with the artist posing a question of their own to future interviewees. Vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Deradoorian asks her fellow artists about their most important creative ritual; Sandro Perri of experimental group Off World asks what question they are sure they have found the answer for; and singer-songwriter Frankie Cosmos asks how being an artist affects the way that one takes in art.

Critics and academics

The editors of Reorient (Joobin Bekhrad) and 3:AM Magazine (Andrew Gallix) agree that art poses no threat to civilisation, but the jury is out on whether it aspires to do so. Film critic and video essayist Cristina Álvarez López reasons that activities that involve expanding appreciation of art, like teaching, are themselves an art. Musicologist Áine Mangaoang, who enthuses about amateur community choirs, would no doubt agree.

Graphic novelists and illustrators

In a similar vein, graphic novelist Leah Hayes (Not Funny Ha-Ha) and illustrator Rachael Ball (The Inflatable Woman) invite others to do some creating of their own. Hayes urges people ‘to read poetry, write in journals, and sketch in sketchbooks as adults. These are … forms of introspection and discovery that are very important.’ Ball emphasises the importance of experimenting ‘in the medium appropriate to our own lives, be it cooking or singing’.

Choreographers, visual artists, and video game developers

Alex Ketley, independent choreographer and director of The Foundry, talks about art’s ability to bring people together, while Angela de la Cruz, Turner Prize-nominated visual artist, discusses art’s relationship with war. To end with some inspirational words: Eric A. Anderson, video game developer for (among other titles) The Witness and the Myst series, gifts us with the reassuring message that ‘failure is a form of success’.

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