Wednesday 26 May 2010

Gavin Russom DFA Records Interview

Gavin Russom is a psychedelic electronic music producer known for is brilliant releases on DFA Records and for making his own synthesizers.
The first time i heard is music was on one of the first DFA compilations, its was totally different from what i was used to hear and i became captivated with the sound by Gavin and Delia Gonzalez, it was like a mind trip full of psychedelic elements, you don't know exactly how to react to it, if lay back and enjoy the ride or just jump with no direction.
Gavin is also known by is side projects like Black Meteoric Star, The Crystal Ark and Black Leotard Front.

Do you see yourself as a soundsculptor, artist or musician ?

If I had to choose one word that categorizes the way I approach creativity I'd say I'm a composer.

Your interest with music instruments, where does it come from ? Runs in the family or was something of your own ?

It's something I've been interested in since I was a child. There are a lot of musicians in my family but the interest in building musical instruments has just been something important to me. A lot of the ideas that I developed in terms of instrument building came out of conversations I had with my cousin Mike Kelley (Kelley Polar) during a period of intense musical collaboration we had in our teens.

Why and when have you decided to start building your own synths ?

When I was studying composition in college I reached a creative impasse where I had been so involved in high level ideas about creating music that it became difficult for me to approach musical instruments anymore. The only thing I could relate to were modular synthesizers and percussion instruments because each achieved the direct approach to sound that I was searching for. I began building percussion instruments in college because I didn't have the resources to build synths. After I moved to New York I had the resources to begin synth building and began to teach myself.

where did you learn the skills ?

I began with books and reprints of manuals from the 70's. I taught myself with a lot of trial and error. Later I worked with Jeff Blenkinsopp at EARS NYC and learned a great deal more.

The pulse, sizzle and raw electric charge are some of your creations, could you tell something about these machines ?

My interest in synths grew directly out of my interest in magic and the idea that creativity and channeling have a lot in common. I think of the machines as instruments that directly translate electricity into sound based on the interventions of a human user. I wanted to make machines that would allow me to work with sound in the fluid way that I experience it.

What have you discovered in hip hop that made you interested in electronic music ?

The use of machines to make sound that sounds like it was made by machines.

Which albums/artists wave influenced your music the most ?

A partial list: David Tudor, Supermax, Jack Frost (and all of his other pseudonyms, Adonis, Sleezy D etc.), Henry Cowell, Conlon Nancarrow, Meredith Monk, Bukkah White
Guy Picciotto, Darby Crash, Albert Ayler,

Where did you meet and how important was DFA and James Murphy in your live and music ?

I sent out a mass email to everyone who had ever emailed me and forgotten to Bcc's mailing list that I could fix and design analog synths. I had taken a year off of work to learn how to build synths and was unbelievably broke. James Murphy is the only person that wrote back so I went over to his studio where there were piles of vintage gear which I started to repair. I moved from that to designing mods and new circuits for James and Tim Goldsworthy. They came to see Delia and I play and offered us a record deal and things grew from there. That meeting is certainly very important because they got what I was doing at a time when most people weren't even close. I'm not sure where I'd be if that hadn't happened.

You've built some "Gavin Made" synths for Lcd Soundsystem and Black Dice, how did this happen ?

That grew out of my work in the DFA studio.

Delia Gonzales and Gavin Russom are both musicians and sculptors, where does the collaboration begins and what was the concept ?

Delia and I met in 1998 almost immediately started working together. We both had a lot of things we wanted to do and had a vision of building an alternate universe. We worked together extremely intensively until 2007.

"Causal Friday" by Black Leotard Front is a track that i still like a lot, Who were they and what happened to that project ?

Black Leotard Front was a dance company that included Delia, myself, Artist Christian Holstad and gallerist Daniel Schmidt. We made dance performances and sculptures and recorded 2 singels, "Casual Friday" and "Hey Coach! (I Read Your Diary)". The second of these was lost before it could be pressed. At some point in 2006 we went our separate ways.

Black Meteoric Star and The Crystal Ark are two of your side projects, what are the separating lines ?

Black Meteoric Star uses a very specific set of gear. The Crystal Ark is a collaboration with Viva Ruiz and also includes contributions from Alberto Lopez, Matt Thornley and Lizzy Yoder.

You have two nicknames, "Wizard" that is related with your creation of synths and interest in magic practices and "Bad Boy", this have to do with the fact that you do the music you want, the way you want ?

I guess that's what that has to do with. I think it's something a journalist invented. None of my friends call me "bad boy". I personally find it hilarious.

You moved from New York to Berlin, Did it changes your music perception and creative process ?

Certainly the 5 years I spent in Berlin influenced my creative practice. It reawakened my interest in dance music among many other things. Berlin was a great place for me to go into a creative cocoon and transform a lot of the energies that grew up in New York. A note, I moved to New York in November of 2009.

where does you and your music fits better ?

New York. I am a New Yorker.

What are you listening to these days ? You have some recommendation ?

Man Recordings in Berlin is doing great things as is Nation records in Chicago. Laurent Garnier's new Alaska production is fantastic.