You might not think that jazz improvisations, experimental music and FUGAZI inspired moods would necessarily be a match, but I guess Gori Valarez, an exploratory musicianfrom Spain would like you to seriously reconsider. His avant-garde project LOE LOF LON has released an album of hybrid sounds that captures a distubring, yet strangely alluring atmosphere. We caught up with Gori to learn more about his creative soul and understand his process of reimagining the identity of experimental music.
Hi Gori! Thanks for your time. How are you? How’s December treating you so far? Where are you at the moment?
I’m fine, thanks. Yes, December is a great month for me, very exciting thanks to the repercussion that is having my first album CONVENTIONAL ELEMENTS. I am from the Basque country but I live in Galicia for five years, in the north-west of Spain.
Oh yeah, your latest record ‘Conventional Elements’ is obviously the reason for our conversation and I must say it’s nothing but unconventional, experimental, abstract, and quite challenging. I’d really like to learn more about your backgrounds and the path that led you to such conscious musical approach. What kind of music were you hoping to learn when you first started composing and how was the first time that more experimental moods and techniques first engaged your musical soul?
From a young age I played guitar and sax in Basque Country underground bands. I did some solo experimental demos but never thought about releasing them. With my change of residence for work issues, move from living in a city to a small town, I didn’t know anyone so I set up a small studio at home,… very, very, small,… ja, ja!!. I started developing ideas and recording them as they came out of my brain, practically improvised, searching for casual sounds. This is the result of recording those ideas between jJanuary and April 2016. So you can consider this my first solo album.
Talkin’ about influences I could talk about a lot of bands, but I’ll just give you four references:
When I was sixteen, my first reference was definitely THE VELVET UNDERGROUND. Between you and me, that’s really my biggest influence, when I first started composing the noises of Lou Reed and John Cale were always in my head and nowadays too. I’ve always been very attached to Miles Davis, obsessively, especially his first electric years. Of course the New York no wave movement, I especially choose DNA, Arto Lindsay band.The last reference, for the sound and all that represents, attitude,… is FUGAZI. From there you can add lots of modal jazz, free jazz and of course experimental music pioneers like John Cage…
Ey, “quite challenging”,… It could be a nice definition!!!!, ja, ja,…
When you sit down to produce new rhythms, do you have a certain process that you follow? How impulsive is your process? Also, do you collaborate with other musicians?
My way of working is always the same. Usually the first idea comes at night, I record it with a recorder or my mobile phone,… things like a melody, a bass line, a drum beat. The next day in the morning I work with it in the studio, initially always with my crazy-noisy electric piano. With that first track I record the rest of the instruments. I make also at home the mixes, to get my sound I work quite a bit with the saturation of the recording.
For my next project I started working with an english percussionist called Wayne Rex, we have released the first song of what will be a new album. The theme is called “This is what d & b # 2” and is been used in a choreography by a London dance company called FRICTION DANCE. Ey, this is the track.
Sounds like a crawling, teasing nightmare :)
Ja, ja,… did you like it?.
Of course! I love abusing my brain with experimental, jazz inspired tunes, for sure!
By the way, is there a favorite hardware that you use when writing new music?
Well, My favourite guitars are my Fender telecaster and my Gibson sg special, I’ve got an old Conn tenor sax too, but for writing music almost always I use my Yamaha electric piano.
My recording equipboard is very simple, I record guitars and electric piano through a Fender blues jr. amp, using a microphone Shure SM57. I use a lot of effect pedals,… you know, fuzz, wah-wah, echo-delay, reverb, overdrive,… Then I use an audio interphase to convert the sounds into digital signals.
Ok, so let’s go back to the general view on LOE LOF LON. Did you intend the title of this project to suggest anything in particular? What does it stand for?
The general concept of the project is the improvisation, to look for the casual, the imperfection, the first takes, you know?. LOE LOF LON doesn’t mean anything, it’s the first three words my four-years-old daughter wrote, the first thing she wrote in her life!!!!, a total act of improvisation, ja, ja,… perfect,… surrealist,…
Perfect :) So, moving on deeper into your work, I guess it’s not so important for the audience to be able to deduct your ideas behind these tracks, because you leave the door open for any interpretations of your sound experiments, right? Perhaps there is a common theme that ties your work together?
I completely agree. It’s music, nothing else.
Yes, it’s true,… like a common theme, in the months of creation, in my thoughts was the idea of making a raw soundtrack of heavy melodies, like a sordid black and white film,… that could take you on a loud cosmic journey. Something like that.
What were your main compositional challenges while composing for ‘Conventional Elements’?
Well, the fact of working alone is a great handicap, I play a lot of instruments but all wrong, ja, ja… Technically I’m not a great musician,… but I don’t really want to. If you manage to take advantage of the lack of technique, that’s where you can get to be original. I’ve never liked that type of musician who constantly seeks perfection, losing freshness. For example, my style playing electric guitar is practically percussive, I think I’ve never learned to play a memory song, typical BEATLES song and things like that, ja, ja… Continuing with your definition “quite challenging”, I looked for contradictions, playing with antonyms and finding meeting points between the songs. When I’m composing I like the idea of losing control over what I do, that each step takes me to an unexpected place.
How about live performances? Is LOE LOF LON also a live act?
Oh, yes,… that’s the goal for 2017, right now we are testing diferent formats to present the album CONVENTIONAL ELEMENTS alive. It’s the best way to show my music and that’s the fun of it, of course. First concert will be in February, I hope. You are invited, ja, ja,…
Ok, so finally, what non-musical, art-related pleasures do you think have had an influence on your musical work?
Well,… I don’t belong to any artistic movement, but my project is very close to the punk movement and dadaism. The concept would be something like trying to destroy the conventional with respect to art,… anti-art,…, that could be the meaning of the album, “conventional”. It advocates the freedom of the individual, the spontaneity, the immediate, current and random, defending chaos against order and imperfection against perfection, looking for a free musical language, without limits. I think that the frontiers between art and life must be abolished. For example, all the album cover-paintings were made by my four-year-old daughter.
Yup, it was an accurate way to express these ideas.
Would you mind recommending some of the best records, books, movies and other forms of art you discovered in 2016?
Yes, it’s true,… I agree.
About my favourite albums released in 2016, I choose two classics, just a tribute, It’s amazing that two icons like David Bowie with “Black Star” and Leonard Cohen “You Want It Darker” made 2 excellent albums at the end of their life, a wealth of emotion, a great adieu!
The truth is that my influences come from the past, ja, ja,… Ey, I have to tell you that last week the prestigiuous German radio station NBT MUSIC RADIO STATION elected my album CONVENTIONAL ELEMENTS as one of the 230 best albums of 2016 (HERE and HERE).
Gori, before we say goodbye, what’s on your schedule right now? What plans do you have secured for the coming months?
Well, we continue with the promotion of the album CONVENTIONAL ELEMENTS, the whole creation process is “handmade”,… we follow the spirit of “do it yourself”, you know,… So, progress is slow and effort is being great. Ey, any help will be well received!
We are also defining how to move this project, so personal, to a format that allows us to play live, testing and organizing some concerts to present the album live.
As a future project, along with English percussionist Wayne Rex we are recording a new album. We want to finish it this spring, I hope…
Great! Good luck with that!
Thanks so much for your time. Feel free to add your final message to the readers and take care! Best rehards from Poland!
Remember play it AT MAXIMUM VOLUME!!!! and please send me your opinions about the album by email to [email protected]