By Alyssa Klink
Jeremie “Bacpac” Franko is a modern-day punk-renaissance woman taking art to the next level in Phoenix.
For the past twelve years, she has paved her way into the community with spray-painted murals like the flamenco dancer on 15th St. and Filmore and has dedicated herself to performing and dee-jaying rockabilly music.
BacPac has also designed acoustic sound booths, painted sets and backdrops for big-name films back in the 80s, and even designed buildings as a young architect. Oh, and she was the guitarist for the European punk-band The Raincoats from 1977 to 1979.
Additionally, BacPac attends swing and Spanish dance classes, has a passion for motorcycles and poetry, and has attended over five universities across the U.S. and Europe in pursuit of art-related degrees. It seems that there’s nothing that BacPac can’t do.
Write On Downtown (WOD): When did you start painting murals?
Bacpac (B): I’m from New York City. I lived in the lower east side for all my early life. I grew up a block away from the Hells Angels clubhouse. As a little kid…I would sit there and draw bikes so I grew up with that element, and by the time I was 14, I started [doing] work for a guy that custom painted motorcycles and cars. Everybody who was cool was doing the alleyways but I got to do cars, and I got to go to demolition derbies. I just started painting everything…my mother’s Marine Corps trunk, the walls, anything.
WOD: How did you get back into murals after moving to Phoenix?
B: The Hell’s Angels, who I was friends with and rode with said, “we want you to paint our clubhouse.” I didn’t think I was good enough to do lettering, so I said to Trubbs, who I knew from the Cypher’s school, “do you want to come paint with me?” He painted letters and I did the big mural of the guy doing the chopper, so that gave me something legit to put on Instagram.
WOD: How did you transition into dee-jaying from painting?
B: [One of the Rockabilly Radio deejays] brought me to Rockabilly Radio and said “you should bring this dee-jay, she’ll get an American audience,” so they brought me on. Doing Rockabilly Radio for the United Kingdom, for that platform…all the rockabilly fans in the world listen to it.
WOD: In what other ways are you involved in the Phoenix arts community?
B: Hip-hop, rockabilly, punk; I do everything I can possibly do, I love the jams. I love Latin music, I love Latin dance. A big component of what I do is dancing. When I paint in a school, I insist that the kids who come in, the first thing we do, we’re going to have a little dance, put some music on…I’ve got to have music when I paint all the time. I’ll stop and dance in the middle of painting…I’m known for that.
WOD: How have you seen that community evolve?
B: It’s blown up…young artists coming out here to work on warehouses, young families coming out here because the property’s cheap, but they have kids, and the kids are punk-ass, you know they like art and tattoos, and so young people need to work somewhere. The warehouses have walls to paint and a bunch of artists to do them.
WOD: Why is it important to keep various types of art alive?
B: It is the best way to express yourself. If you’re angry, paint. If you’re happy, paint, play music, paint. Do art; don’t go smashing things and beating up people and hurting people…paint. And then at the same time, you can beautify…remember…commemorate.
WOD: How did you end up with the name BacPac?
B: So I’m like this tiny thing, you know? I wear big jackets. I was without a motorcycle for a period of time, I blew up my little motorcycle I had on the way to Flagstaff. So I was going with these bikers and basically it’s like this: when a biker has an empty seat it’s his girlfriend’s, when a biker doesn’t have an empty seat he’s a solo, but you have a fender. We were all going on this event and I had this sign that said I need a ride cause I was without a bike. So this guy said, “you could be on the back of my seat, but you’ve got to sit on the fender.” So I’m like this, on his back (stands up to demonstrate) and they go oh she looks like a backpack.