GALAPAGOOSE

INSIDE THE MIND OF A QUIET GENIUS

Showing your friends new music is always exciting and therefore we would like to introduce you to Trent Gill, aka Galapagoose, who is one of Melbourne’s most interesting and inspiring musicians. His instruments of choice are samples, an MPD controller, and a Monome (a controller which Gill himself has written software for). Gill’s music is often hard to categorize - is it trip hop/wonky/ambient or just plain odd? To us, it does not matter! Gills music is simply beautifully strange which is what we love about it. We caught up with Gill to chat about his latest adventure, in the form of his debut album Commitments; his influences; output; and life in general.

Gill’s release on Daedelus’ imprint could not be more perfect. Both artists craft their equally weird and wonderful music using the same tool - the Monome, a custom built “minimalist midi interface”. Gill first made a connection with Daedelus while studying in Holland. “I went and saw him play in Holland in a really small club, there might have been about 25 or 30 people so it was a really small show. At the time I had been coding a lot for the Monome so it was almost impossible for me not to be into Daedelus. Anyway I went and talked to him after his show and we were talking about music and coding and I ended up making some modifications on his Monome application for his live set”. It wasn’t, however, until Gill moved to New York last year to help produce an album for Young Magic that Gill and Daedelus’ connection became a firm bond. “I was in New York and was talking to Brian from Monome, and we wanted to do a launch party for the new software that had just been released. It turned out Daedelus was in town, so Brian called him up and said ‘do you want to do a set?’ and he was keen. So he came down and saw me play…and I guess after that we just really hit it off! We started talking about the software and music in general…we just got along really well…we had similar minds coming from different worlds, but as far as music went we were from a similar place”. Later that year, things started to eventuate between the two when Gill went to the famed South by South West (SxSW) conference where Daedelus asked him to play at a showcase. “Daedelus asked me to come play a set and it was really well received. It was weird actually I had this odd moment where I had people like Dibiase and Mathewdavid coming up to me and tell me how much they dug what I just did… and I was kind of like ‘No I am supposed to be the fan here’ (laughs). From that point he [Daedelus] was just like yeah let’s put something out”. This casual, ‘let’s put something out’ ended up being Gill’s most recent project - Commitments. The album takes a slight departure from previous work such as Parquet and draws from Gill’s traditional music background using more live instrumentation and his own vocal work, which Gill describes as “super confronting” when hearing himself on a record. Unlike artists such as James Blake, Gill uses his voice as a way of “building textures” and when asked if he would like to take his work down the same path, he is quick to answer “it’s not really my thing” as he sees his voice as more of an instrument, looping and recording pieces to be a part of the ensemble rather than the lead.

It is the brilliant use of Gill’s voice that really evokes a sense of emotion on an almost etheric level, giving his commitment to the DIY process a most definite nod of approval. The album swings and jerks around in what sounds like a perpetual state of falling and stumbling due impart to the percussion being totally live. The un-quantized nature of the album sits well with its chaotic beauty. Songs such as ‘Planting the Seed’ start in frenzied loops of Gills voice and gradually slow down to enter into a jazz-like harmonic bliss, while songs such as ‘Rhizome’ and ‘Snuffclutch’ have a more fragile and discontented tone. The album itself does not stay in one place for a long time, going only for around 40 minutes. The listener is often sprung from emotional state-to-state giving clues to the possible metaphorical meanings of the album title and the headspace that Gill was at during the making of the album (which lasted for only six weeks). This isn’t to say that Gill was deeply troubled, or saddened during the process, but to say that Gill is a man of deep emotional intelligence who has the creative ability to contextualize how he is feeling through his craft. It is this ability and understanding of how he is feeling that has created one of this year’s most superb albums. When asked if his emotional and environmental situations have an impact on the type of music Gill makes he is quick to acknowledge a definite influence. “Entirely it’s an emotional thing…for me that’s where it all comes from - and if it wasn’t I don’t think I would make anything. I try not to be too sentimental about things, but I definitely use emotion to bring out a sort of rawness.” Gill sites the past 18 months as a period where using music has been a way to cope with and understand his emotions. “It is in many ways like a personal counselor to express yourself through music...If you don’t have access to your friends or you don’t have any one to talk to, [I find] music is the best way to express myself and deal with emotions both negative and positive”.

When listening to Gills work one can’t help but wonder what influences his sound, as it is in many ways so disjointed and original compared to a lot of other music currently being produced. When asked about this, Gill finds it hard to pinpoint any particular influence saying that he has been listening to “spaghetti western and blaxploitation soundtracks” as well as “70’s psychedelia synth jams”, however he also admits that these sources can be somewhat limiting as sources for inspiration, making his music sound somewhat the same. Gill sees his long-term friendship with Wooshie (who is part of the This Thing collective with Gill) as one of the biggest influences on his sound and music output. “Wooshie and I spend a lot of time making music together and listening to each other’s music…It’s one of the greatest things to have someone who you can bounce ideas off, someone who can give you an objective opinion”. When asked about current producers Gill names the most recent record out on This Thing by Thomas William as a source of inspiration, especially in terms of a technical standpoint. “I listen to this release and look at his techniques. I look at making music without a focus on the beat, which I think is really important in putting a real pulse into a track without necessarily having a focus on a kick and a snare drum”. It is this approach to music - the constant exploration of sounds and the different ways in which Gill can contextualize his emotions - that truly sets him apart from the rest of the pack. Gill will be embarking on an Australian/New Zealand tour over the coming months so make sure you head to www.facebook.com/galapagoose for further details.

 

29 March 2012
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