I’m so happy that this interview finally gets to see the light of day. It took place almost a year ago, before that, it was another year again from the time I first contacted Guy until our chat actually took place… so this conversation has been two years in coming to you! When it happened we spoke for a couple of hours. Guy had just released his first solo record in a really long time titled, Ophelia Slowly. If you’re not familiar with Guy, he’s a musician and visual artist (his art is wonderful peep it here; I have an original hanging in my art space!) based in Los Angeles. He’s also the frontman for psychedelic rock band, The Entrance Band (featuring friends Paz Lenchantin and Derek James). Below he talks about the album, of creating with and without drugs, psychedelics, addiction, expanding your consciousness, rebirth, starting a new life, visions he’s had, UFO’s he’s seen, songwriting, French poet Arthur Rimbaud and lots more. Despite it happening so long ago, I believe the essence of the things we speak about are timeless and still as important right now. As with all the work that I do, I hope you get something from it.
BIANCA: It’s a wonderful time to be speaking with you, your solo record Ophelia Slowly was released a couple of days ago. How’s it feel to finally be releasing your baby out into the world?
GUY BLAKESLEE: It’s a pretty great feeling actually. It’s something that I have been working on for a couple of years. It’s been recorded and finished since November last year so it’s been waiting to be born for many months now. It’s exciting!
B: You recorded it in New York?
GB: Yeah, with my friend Chris Coady. He’s a friend that I have known since I was really young; we’re from the same town, Baltimore, Maryland. When I first started to play in bands when I was in high school, he was learning to record. Chris was a couple of years older than me, we played music together too when I was real young. The first recordings that I really made was with him, like maybe 18-20 years ago. In the past ten years or so he recorded my last solo records that I made which was under the name, Entrance. The last one we did together before this one was 2003-2004. Since then, he’s been busy recording a lot of other records. It was cool when we got back together this time to see how far we have both progressed this past decade.
B: Being in New York to record did that environment influence what you were recording?
GB: Yeah definitely. I had a lot of songs figured out when I went to New York to make the record but I also had some that were not finished yet. I was able to finish them and get creative inspired by the Lower East Side a bit. I was sleeping in the studio which was down in a basement. I’d wake up and go outside and work around, then work on lyrics. I was definitely getting stimulated and inspired by the energy around there. It’s quite different from where I live in Los Angeles.
B: Do you find it hard to write lyrics?
GB: Sometimes I have to work harder than other times. A lot of the time it just comes through me and I have to just be ready to capture it. It depends on the song. For this record I do a lot of writing without necessarily knowing what song it’s going to be; I go back over it chop it up and rewrite it, put different things together. There were many piles of paper with typing and handwriting that ended up making it into eight different songs. I try to write every day to keep that part of my brain active and to create a big pile of stuff I can choose from when I’m actually trying to turn something into a song.
B: I know for me, when I write, I tend to get inspiration in places like when I’m driving in the car or when I’m in the shower, when I’m not trying; do you have places like that where inspiration strikes?
GB: Yeah. Certain types of situations are definitely more conducive to that. Driving is definitely one of those for me. I didn’t drive at all until a little over almost two years ago; I got my driver’s license. Most of my life I never was behind the wheel. Being on tour a lot and not being the one driving, I’d definitely write a lot while I was riding in the car. On tours in America, you will spend so much of your day driving. A lot of melodies come to me that way, when I’m driving around in L.A…
A part of the story of this record is that, at one point in my life, for a while, it was actually working for me to use drugs and alcohol to be creative. I feel like I was already a musician and artist when I started to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol and eventually did other substances, of course it was definitely like a really easy shortcut to some creative leaps and bounds I was able to make; over two years I came to a place where I couldn’t do those things anymore. It took a lot of help and energy from people to be able to stop that. One of the main things that has helped me is relearning my approach to being creative. Instead of just smoking something or popping a pill and coming up with all these ideas that come from nowhere, I actually now have to be a little more disciplined and work harder at it. It feels much more rewarding, I feel the progress I do make is more… it’s going to last longer, if that makes sense?
GB: When I first started making music on my own sometimes, I’d just make up a song off the top of my head. I’d smoke a joint and I’d play and have a completed song. I’d just sing into the 4-track and that was it. I wouldn’t necessarily know how I did that, I wouldn’t know how to do that again but I’d continue to try and get that burst of creativity through chemicals. Now if I write a song, I can look back and understand how I did that and be able to repeat the same formula over and over. I can remember better and have more clarity on how my creative process works and doesn’t work because I’m totally aware of what I’m doing. Also, because a lot of the things I create, I’m trying to transmit something from another place into our normal reality. To be able to create those kinds of things without the chemical shortcuts, it opens it up to being a more spiritual process. Things like meditation and almost like self-hypnosis in a way become a part of it. It’s a healthy and more sustainable way to access other parts of your mind where there are lots of good creative stuff waiting to be discovered in there. It’s been an inspiring journey for me to learn how to continue to progress creatively coming from a more spiritual place than being intoxicated [laughs].
I would never say that anyone shouldn’t smoke marijuana, it’s a good natural thing that was given to us and it has a purpose. It helps a lot of people in a lot of ways. I know that it did help me for a long time but, then there comes a time, if you’re a certain type of person, like me, you use up the good part of it; you find yourself still doing this thing but it starts to have negative effects. I found it was hard for me just to stop. It stopped working for me in a good way but I had the addiction part, I had to find a new way to get that same expanded sense of consciousness. The negative experiences that led to me giving those things up has actually led to very positive experience, an awakening experience. I realised that, creativity, inspiration and relaxation – all the things I was looking for in that way – are always available to us, we just have to look in new places sometimes.
B: This is the first album that you have made under your given name, you’ve been making music for so long; I feel like the fact you use your given name finally is significant. Why did you decide to finally use it?
GB: Yeah. The band that I am in, The Entrance Band, originated as a project that was pretty much just me and it was just called, Entrance. I started playing with other people, my friend, a drummer named Tommy and travelled with me a lot, for a couple of years. Eventually Paz and Derek was in the band now, they collaborated with me separately and then we started playing together. We’ve been playing together for long enough that people associate The Entrance Band with all of us. We’ve been using that name together close to ten years. That’s one reason, so it’s not confusing for people.
Another reason is that, this project to me is a kind of a rebirth experience. I don’t think I was aware of it at the time when I first started to use the name, Entrance, which has meaning behind it, it’s not just a random name, but I feel maybe I wasn’t comfortable with my own name or felt like hiding behind this other character. Even though I still am uncomfortable with my own name [laughs] I feel like it’s part of the process of stripping away a bunch of layers of disguises and just being myself. That said, I wouldn’t say that I’ve felt like I haven’t been myself with the music that I made but I feel there’s always room to get more direct and raw and honest.
I think part of the reason why I resisted to being called my own name before was because I used to have this more negative association with people… I have a judgemental take on singer-songwriter people, and I didn’t want to be like that. On one hand that basically is what I am doing, but I feel like I’m doing it in my own way. I’m writing songs and singing them and it’s nothing to be ashamed about that process [laughs]. There’s people like Johnny Cash and other amazing people have used their name. There’s different traditions you could associate that with. I feel much more comfortable using my name now though.
B: I’ve listened to Ophelia Slowly a lot! It’s one of my favourite things I’ve heard all year. It has a warm feeling and tells a story and is really intimate, there’s a lot of vulnerability that comes through. Your girlfriend Amanda wrote a post online with a link to a stream of the song, Told Myself, she said that to her it brilliantly showed that we can be gentle and strong while exploring our shadows. Do you feel you are exploring your shadows on the album?
GB: Oh yeah, for sure, definitely. I might be a little more aware with this record as to what I am doing than anything I have done before. I feel there is a really intuitive part of making an album for me that’s basically like, in a way, throwing a bunch of things at a wall and seeing which things will stick or fall off. What remains, I take and sculpt that a little bit and bring it together into something. It could have turned out totally differently. There were many, many songs that were in different states that could have ended up on the album that could have given it a very different overall colour or tone. I think that when I threw everything at the wall and looked at what was sticking together it came out like it did. It’s definitely a story of a person that has been able to start a new life, but is still haunted by the old life; someone is progressing in a very positive direction but is still dealing with a negative or a dark that has been part of that change.
For me, there’s a lot of different ways for me to look at spirituality. I like to look at spirituality as a way of integrating the whole spectrum of experience, rather than looking at these energies like they’re straight up bad and think you should stay away from them and be more like something else. The real way to move in the direction of light is to have experiences with darkness and shadow; to learn to integrate them rather than just pushing them away and trying to avoid them. I’m in a pretty good place right now but, I don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t had some of the more difficult experiences that I have had that taught me the things I have learnt to move to a better place. A lot of what is going on, on the album, there’s definitely people or ghosts from the past coming into the present, people passing away – the person that’s singing the song or the person it’s being sung too, like losing their mind [laughs]. There’s a lot of stuff like that going on in the songs. Some of them are real experiences that I have had or witnessed with close friends. Some of it is imaginary and storytelling too. A lot of that is dealing with the shadow element of being alive. Even when sometimes when we make it out alive of something and then there’s still a part of us looking back at tragic and totally crazy situations in the past and romanticizing them, that’s going on, on the record too. Instead of trying to forget and shut the door to things in the past it’s celebrating them in a way. Tragic things can be beautiful if we learn from them.
B: The album is called Ophelia Slowly how did Ophelia come to you?
GB: It’s actually pretty cosmic how that happened. That’s another thing where once I made a decision to call it that and unify it under that concept, that it is a conscious choice but, there was also some interesting synchronicity that did that for me. I was struggling with what the album should be called, I knew I wanted to use a photograph that Amanda had taken for the cover but I couldn’t really figure out what it was going to be called. I was in the car with her and said I wanted to use it but I don’t know what the album should be called, but I feel like it has something to do with ‘Ophelia’ though. I knew of the Ophelia character from Hamlet but when I said it out loud I didn’t have that Ophelia in mind, I just thought of it as a name that had a certain ring to it for me. She was driving and I was in the passenger seat and she said ‘Do a Google search on Ophelia’. I typed it in and all the images that came up was of a woman drowning in a river. There was also a poem by Arthur Rimbaud, who is actually one of my main influences in the style of writing that I was doing—automatic writing. He talks of how Ophelia is floating like a flower on the face of the water. It tripped us both out. We were like, whoa! It’s basically like an archetype. That was speaking to me and I didn’t really even realise it. It was all so connected. The photo that Amanda took of her friend Ana in the water had a strong imagery for me and lead me to this archetype that really ties in to the character that is being described in the record. It’s so interesting how it all happened.
Even while I’ve been making videos for some of the songs and doing visual research for the videos, some of the images I’ve searched for without even knowing their connection to Ophelia have basically come up with images titled ‘Ophelia’. One of the images I was looking for was a picture of a broken mirror and the first image that came up was Ophelia shattering a broken mirror and an essay on the symbolism of a broken mirror. Another thing I was searching for was ‘drowning in the bathtub’ …all these images came up with girls in the bathtub with flowers covering their face that were titled or tagged with ‘Ophelia’. It’s like a weird coincidence that it’s all connected.
B: Another thing that I think you could add to all of that is that the word ‘Ophelia’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘help’.
GB: Yes, that makes sense. That’s interesting too. I wanted to make it so some of the songs actually had names that were of real people. I wanted to tie it all together and make it less literal than that. The archetype of Ophelia ties it more together in a more universal way. ‘Archetype’ is a really cool word and concept to me.
B: In what way?
GB: I know what it means to me but I find it hard to define it. It’s cool that it’s coming from Shakespeare; an archetype that is coming from poetry and art. The character that was created by this man that visualised it 100 years ago and over hundreds of years that character has gotten into the subconscious mind of our western civilization; it has a frequency, an energy, a life of its own. People can relate to it and it’s become bigger than the original name and character.
B: I like that music can do this too. You create it, put it out into the world and then it becomes bigger than you and can take on a life of its own. It can go places where you physically can’t be sometimes.
GB: Yeah. In a way, it’s interacting with a tradition that is so old and adding another take on it now that will help it continue to grow and expand. Also, with Arthur Rimbaud, that’s a writer I have always resonated with and felt connected to. Just before I did the search of Ophelia I had sent a photographer who was doing my press shots a photo of Arthur Rimbaud as inspiration as to how I wanted to present myself [laughs]. A couple of days later, it was like, I think it should be called Ophelia, and oh, Arthur Rimbaud had written a poem about Ophelia. A quote from that poem was actually written on the inner sleeve of the album. The point of bringing that up is, I’ve always been really, really into these kinds of musicians like Nick Cave, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen are good examples, I’d also say Chan Marshall from Cat Power too, is another one of those people that are always changing their musical approach and always changing their writing style that allows them to have a strong personal voice that you’ll hear and read through all of their work. The main thing they’re doing is, over a long body of work, they’re conveying a perspective on the world through the stories that they tell.
In our century and our culture being a singer that writes songs, it’s the way to reach the most people as a poet. If I just wanted to write these stories and put them in a book, some people would read it but, if I told the same story as a song it might be different, especially with the internet. I don’t know if it’s going to sell a lot but I know that a lot of people will potentially hear my songs. You can listen to things for free and then you can tell someone else to check it out. Putting stories into song form could get more people to hear it than just writing it down.
B: The same thing goes back to ancient times when people handed stories down in an oral tradition rather than writing it down.
GB: Yeah, that’s the folk music tradition, that’s a big part of my growth as a musician. Tapping into the traditional folk aspect of storytelling and finding ways to tell a new story or to connect to a familiar story in a new way. There’s little references to other songs hidden in there. I used to do songs where I might take an old melody that people might know and put my own words to it, participating in the folk tradition. I would hear something once that would get stuck in my head and then I would make something new out it. I feel that’s another really interesting part about song writing today, we have access to so much different kinds of music from different parts of the world, as a musician it gets in your mind and comes out in new ways and songs.
B: Where does the ‘Slowly’ part of the album title come from?
GB: There’s the Arthur Rimbaud quote printed on the inside that says: And the poet says that by starlight, You come seeking, in the night, the flowers that you picked, And that he has seen on the water, lying in her long veils, White Ophelia floating, like a great lily. There’s another part of the poem I didn’t use but it says: On the calm black water where the stars are sleeping, White Ophelia floats like a great lily; Floats very slowly, lying in her long veils… so I got slowly, from that poem. Me and Amanda were at a restaurant after talking in the car about Ophelia and we wrote down a bunch of ideas, slowly, sounded best to me. It had a ring to it. I don’t know if it would sound sexual to others but to me it does have a kind of seductive sounding vibe [laughs].
B: I can definitely see that. Not too long ago you were over in the U.K. playing shows; tell me about your adventures there.
GB: At the beginning of the tour I was with my band, The Entrance Band. We played 22 or 23 shows all throughout Europe in many different countries. We flew from Los Angeles to Norway and played there, then to Copenhagen to play Copenhagen Psych Fest. We played England, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal… we drove a big part of each day. We had two days off in the three and a half weeks we were there. Most of the places we went, it was the first time that we had been there, it was great. It’s been three years since the last time we got to tour over there, seems like a lot of people have found out about the band since then, definitely a lot more people at our shows. The scene seems better developed in places for psychedelic music. There’s definitely a big resurgence or growth of people identifying with the word psychedelic.
B: There was an interview I read with you from ages ago and in it you commented that you considered yourself to be a psychedelic person…
GB: [Laughs] yeah.
B: Can you remember what you were meaning by that?
G: Yeah. I definitely still feel that way now. On the one hand psychedelic is a word that is a class of chemicals in a sense, so like LSD and mushrooms are consider psychedelic. What psychedelic actually means from its root as a word is, manifestation of the mind. ‘Psyche’ is mind and ‘delic’ is like to make real, to manifest. Those substances were described as psychedelic in an attempt to describe what they do—to expanded the mind and to give people a perspective on their mind that they wouldn’t otherwise have. In the 60s the psychedelic culture came to exist as a combination between people using those substances making art and music influenced by those experiences and of people ingesting those substances and going to hear that music. This was all before I was born. It evolved into the thing that I relate to the most which is, a psychedelic way of thinking and a way of life. It wouldn’t have come to be what it did if those substances weren’t introduced when they were. At this point though I think that it doesn’t really have to have anything to do with those drugs anymore, it has more to do with a way of looking at the world and interacting with the world. That is why I definitely still consider myself a psychedelic person, even though I don’t do those drugs anymore. I definitely used to quite a bit, maybe even in fact, too much [laughs].
What that all means to me is, when the psychedelic movement came to happen in the 60s there was basically a remembering of the occult consciousness that has been a part of western culture for a very long time in a more hidden way. It has to do with magic in a sense, having a different perspective on reality and what our influence over that can be. Since I have been aware of these ideas there’s definitely been a major growth in civilization in general, certain kinds of ideas that are implied by the psychedelic experience or way of thinking… basically quantum physics is one example of scientists who are at the forefront of exploring what reality is. Everything that exists is part of one entirety in a sense, everything is connected; our thoughts influence the world around us. Starting with how we perceive things, we create our own reality and experience. That’s something that I came to realise with the aid of psychedelics. I’ve learned that I can still hold on to that idea and live up to that without drugs.
A practical example of this would be, in any given situation, is to remain aware that you have a choice of how you’re going to perceive things; that the way things seem to you at any given moment, even if it really seems like it is this one certain way, it could be possible to view it differently and have an entirely different experience. That’s something I can try and articulate or live up to sometimes but, it’s very hard to stay in that state all the time.
B: Definitely! I hear that [laughs].
GB: [Laughs] But it is a goal, a very worthy goal to aspire to, even just on a simple level. Earlier today when I was driving around I was in traffic and I was thinking, oh man I really don’t like traffic, I wish I could get there sooner. Then there was a part of my brain that said, well, who said traffic was bad? There’s a whole conversation you can have to readjust the focus. Rather than the thing you’re focused on being set in stone, you can shift it and realise it could be different than you think. If you do it enough, the possibility of how it can change could be very infinite. The traffic could almost become funny instead of being an unpleasant thing.
B: It’s so funny you mention that because I’ve had the exact same conversation with myself while in traffic. I can’t stand traffic, especially in L.A. where you are.
GB: [Laughs] It is crazy! If you remain open to the possibility that the way of perceiving something isn’t the only way of looking at something then you’re open to it being different. I guess it has a lot to do with being right. The way that the psychedelic thing ties back into spirituality is that, in the 60s when music and subculture started to get psychedelic, it wasn’t very long before a lot of the people started to gravitate towards eastern spirituality and ways of thinking. The idea that everything is one, is not a new idea, it’s basically an ancient idea. In India that’s pretty much the basis of how they view everything, in old Chinese philosophy it is similar too, the yin and the yang. Both parts are of the one thing, everything is a part of that one thing and it couldn’t exist without one or the other, the complimentary opposite parts that give it its meaning.
A big part of it all has to do with the ego. The ego is a part of you that is like, traffic is bad because I need to get there because I’m doing this thing and it’s important, these other people are in my way; if they moved faster I’d get there sooner—that’s ego. It is super important to have ego to be able to function in the world but to have your ego be running the show, you’re just going to keep running into problems over and over again. Psychedelic drugs give people another perspective that the ego isn’t the only thing that’s real and they can have an improved experience. For other people they either intentionally or accidently destroy the ego and can’t really function anymore, because you actually need your ego. Like driving your car, you need to know that you’re behind the wheel and that you are you that controls the brakes. If you slip into a non-ego state while you’re driving the car, there could be a big accident [laughs].
B: Is there a reason that you only started driving a couple of years ago?
GB: [Laughs] I have a lot of metaphors that are driving based, huh?
GB: Now that I do drive I think it’s crazy that I’ve lived in Los Angeles for so many years without driving. I don’t really know how to explain it. In some ways I think that I was afraid… part of what I was just describing is the state that I was in for a while there. My attempt to explore dissolving the ego or trying to transcend it in a way, totally didn’t make it go away. If anything it made it inflated in a different way, which is also harmful. I don’t think I would have been a very responsible driver [laughs]. I wasn’t really in the state that you needed to be in to be safe. Now I feel Zen about it. While I’m driving a car now I think I have a better understanding of who I am and what my role is in the scheme of things.
B: I understand that since you were a kid you’ve had visions?
B: What kinds of things have you seen?
GB: More recently in my life I’ve had what I guess you would call UFO experiences. I saw with my own eyes countless things that couldn’t be explained. I was coming from a far out place at the time but I disqualified that it could have been a plane or a satellite or a star or planet. After I completely stopped using drugs and alcohol I’ve still seen these same things I’ve seen before. That confirmed to me that I was still actually seeing these unexplainable things. I’ve seen lights in the sky acting very differently to any other lights in the sky, they seemed to be communicating with the consciousness that observes them without words, in an energetic way. Part of it to is being a story teller or being someone that can imagine things that may be real or not real, you start to believe in them and maybe that they are real. That’s a weird trait of an artist or a writer, something I’ve always had.
When I was little kid I’d tell people stories of stuff that I imagined as if it had really actually happened. I wouldn’t think to myself that I was lying or making things up, it isn’t real, I’d just be describing something that I had experienced or seen in some way. I wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell if it was something that didn’t really happen according to other people’s version of reality [laughs]. Eventually that started to cause problems in my life. As I became a teenager I started to realise that my version of what something was, was different to other people’s version. Up until a certain point though, it never dawned on me that what I was describing wasn’t true. Basically, children have a little fantasy world and at some point that gets turned off… like you’re supposed to grow out of it. I grew in a way that was different though, I didn’t necessarily know what was real [laughs]. Imagining things that I want to create or a story that I want to tell is still helpful to me. Now I’ve done at lot of work on myself and on my mind to try to be able to confine that to a creative space rather than to have my whole life be the real and the fantasy and the dream all blurred together.
Seeing visions throughout my life I’ve dreamt of something and had it happen in real life. I’ve had the visions in that space where you’re not really asleep yet but your eyes are closed and you’re about to fall asleep, like waking dreams and seeing energy. A lot of it has to do with the thing I was describing of not having the well-adjusted sense of what’s real and what’s not. Another example is like when I got really, really into conspiracy theories on the internet. My ex-girlfriend had a laptop and I would just stay up all night researching conspiracy theories and my desire to want all of this crazy stuff to be true was more powerful than my rational ability to determine if it was plausible or not. My imagination gets really stimulated by exploring stuff that may or may not be true. The more far out something is, the more I want it to be real [laughs]. Now I feel I have more of a healthy perspective on that, I know that it is healthy to consider many different versions of the truth. To get too fixated on one thing, even if it’s what everyone else has agreed upon, it’s limiting and not so healthy. I like to keep an openness.
B: I totally understand that. For me, if I’m super interested in something I try to learn as much as I can about it from as many different perspectives I can find. Even if I don’t agree with something I try to be open to that too, I think it makes you more well-rounded and can give you a greater informed idea or conclusion.
B: It’s important not to just accept what other people present to you. It’s important to make up your own mind.
GB: We take in so much information these days, with things like the internet so readily available, it’s important to consider where these things are coming from and why someone may be saying that as opposed to just seeing a headline and incorporating that into your version of what is real. There’s been a lot of things in the past few years, like there might be some catchphrase and it’ll be the title of something and that will be spread around on the internet and people will jump on with agreeing with that without even reading the article of what it was from. It shows how quickly we want to decide what is real and just jump in there and agree with one version of it. You need to go deeper than that to know what’s really going on. It makes it easier to have an opinion and not think any further.
To really get to the bottom of what the world’s political situation is now for instance, it would take a really long time. If you just relied on what other people posted about it to inform your opinion on it, you’ll probably be missing elements of what is truly happening. Like you were saying, you need to consider things and decide for yourself what’s going on. Sometimes I don’t have time to devote to that so I try to remain open to feeling like I don’t necessarily know rather than be quick to agree with something I haven’t researched for myself.
The internet is like a parallel world that’s so much a part of our world. I think if you use it in the right way it has the potential to be this hugely liberating thing but it’s also easy to get lazy… everyone kind of puts stuff up that they think they know but they might not be looking into things further. I don’t know who it is that hopes we do that but, I think there is someone somewhere that hopes people will not look into things further, that we’ll be satisfied with a surface explanation and not investigate deeper. That’s what the psychedelic thing I was talking about before is kind of about, that we should base our personalised view of what reality is, on our own experience; experience should be an investigative experiment. We shouldn’t be lazy about it. We all have to work hard to be able to say we know what is going on, rather than just thinking that we know. If we haven’t done a lot of investigation to have experiences to come up with our own viewpoint then we should remain open-minded. We shouldn’t just take someone else’s version to be our own.
B: I absolutely agree and that’s how I try to live my life. Growing up a punk rock kid, I’ve always had that ‘question everything’ mentality instilled in me.
GB: Me too! [laughs]. And, especially question yourself!
B: Yes. I like to seek out alternative news sites too because I don’t trust the mainstream ones. “News” stories are more and more about celebrities and entertainment or stories that just want to instil fear within us. When I see big news stories unfolding in the press, I always wonder what they are diverting our attention from that’s really happening and that’s really important.
GB: [Laughs] Exactly. It’s cool that you mentioned growing up in a punk rock background because that’s where I come from too. When I was in high school I used to book shows for bands that were touring through the U.S., before the internet. Someone would have my number because I did a show for someone else and the landline would ring, my mom would pick up and she’d be like, there’s a band on the phone. I’d chat to them and ask if they wanted to play a show on whatever date. I’d make flyers with a Xerox machine for the shows and hand them out to people. I’d have a list of phone numbers and actually call people to let them know what’s happening. It’s so different from now.
B: Yes. I also feel that there’s this silly mentality with artists where it’s not cool to promote what you’re doing, like some people will consider it bragging or spamming. It’s like I want to see stuff come up in my social media feeds that informs me of what my friends are creating, what shows they’re playing etc. Posts that complain about stuff without offering any solutions or deeper thought annoy me, to me that’s spam. I wish more of my friends that post about what they’re doing creatively would stop apologising for it when they post. It’s like, own your shit! Own your life and don’t apologise for it. Who cares what other people think. Some people will get you, others will not, and that’s all totally fine. I support creative friends even when I personally might not resonate with what they are doing. The more people creating in the world and adding something of value and substance the better.
B: You’ve made zines, haven’t you?
GB: Yeah, I did. As well as writing the content and doing art for them I used to experiment with Xerox machines at my school. The only way to get the zines used to be if I physically gave you one or sent it to you in the mail. Things are so different now.
I was really involved in punk and hardcore when I was fifteen and sixteen, almost twenty years ago. It’s been a huge influence on me and everything I’ve ever done. It gave me a real energy and is an inspiration for people creating things in their own way. Even if the music I make sounds different to what I was doing then, it’s still coming from that same place—real people wanting to create something because they have something they feel that they want to express. They physically make that thing a reality with their own energy.
I definitely wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t witnessed punk or been a part of that at such a young age. It made sense to me. You’d be in a basement watching a band play and they’d be putting out all of the energy and emotion that they had and you’d be standing there watching and you would reciprocate that and together you’d have a fully transcendent experience of going to another place. Now days I try to keep that in mind when I perform and when I watch people perform. The age that I am and how long I have been doing it, I should try to support myself doing it but beyond the material plane there is a built-in reason why I am really doing that—to have an experience and create an experience for other people to participate in and a giving and receiving of energy–that’s what it’s all about.