Tag Archives: Interview

On “Jardín,” Gabriel Garzón-Montano Puts Himself Front and Center

gabriel-garzan-montano-by-joe-hollier-600

Gabriel Garzón-Montano by Joe Hollier

It’s hard to tell where Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s studio ends and his bedroom begins. There’s a fully-assembled drum set nestled in the bottom of the singer/producer/instrumentalist’s closet. An array of synthesizers, keyboards, and speakers occupy most all of his desk space. And, behind the door, looming over the room, are a stack of black crates filled with exotic percussive instruments—from the tiny Brazilian tambourine that graced “Keep on Running” to the Tibetan bells that open “Fruitflies,” a track from his upcoming LP Jardín. In an age of sample-pack and VST-based musicians, the presence of so many tangible analog instruments is refreshing. Of course, there’s a laptop too; it sits atop a vintage Oberheim synth on his desk. But, it’s clear that when Garzón-Montano says he plays everything in most of his songs, he really plays everything.

The walls of Garzón-Montano’s bedroom studio are adorned with a similar blend of music and personal mementos. Most notably, amid the concert flyers, vinyl LPs, and pictures of his idols (including an ornately-framed pencil drawing of Lil Wayne), are portraits of his parents. His French mother’s knowledge of classical harmony and Colombian father’s love of cumbia rhythms pulse through his music. In the end, Jardín’s 10 tracks of genre-bending soul play much like his room looks—the work of a man with as many talents as sources of inspiration.

Ironically, working from home is difficult for Garzón-Montano. “It’s something I’ve resented.” he says as we discuss the years he’s spent writing Jardín in his room, “I’ve loved going to studios or leaving my place to work.” It’s hard to imagine he’ll be spending much time at home in the upcoming months. Bishouné: Alma del Huila, Gabriel’s first EP, sent him on a world tour opening for Lenny Kravitz, then to California to sign with Stones Throw Records. Jardín is set to propel him even further. The question is no longer how far, but how high?

In the days before his debut LP’s release, we talked with Garzon-Montano about how Jardín came together, and his efforts to grow as a performer.

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The Tuts: The Girl Gang Everyone Wants to Be In

The Tuts

Since it became an institution of sorts, punk has become synonymous with grouchy coolness. Don’t wear the wrong uniform. Don’t say the wrong thing. Don’t like the wrong bands. The pretense can make bands seem unapproachable and bland. If they don’t look like they care about their own music, why should I care?

Thankfully, there are groups like West London girl gang The Tuts, the perfect antidote to this sometimes dreary (and terribly conservative!) side of the punk scene. The Tuts break all the rules; they love pop, wear matching outfits, and have big dreams for the band’s future. Discussing how open they are about their ambition, guitarist Nadia Javed says: “Other bands pretend like, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna do little farts of success and we’ll just see where it goes,’ but deep down they fucking want it. But they think it’s not cool to want it. We can’t be fucking bothered; we ain’t got time to look cool.”

The band originally formed in the early 2000s, when Javed and drummer Beverley Ishmael were still in school together. Once bassist Harriet Dovetown joined in 2010, the band quickly found their niche: the girl gang everyone wants to be in. The band’s self-titled debut EP was well-received, followed by a 2013 tour with Kate Nash. Their DIY attitude, constant touring and social media skills earned the band a legion of fans and made it easier to self-release their debut album, Update Your Brain.

When we spoke to The Tuts they were exactly as we envisioned: bubbly and excitable, and so used to one another’s company that each sentence is a group effort. If Javed starts a sentence, Ishmael adds her commentary, and Dovetown finishes the thought—all seamless and in sync.

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Mariam Finds Her Voice

 

Mariam. Photo by CK Goldiing.

Mariam. Photo by CK Goldiing.

When asked what her next steps are, now that her EP Heart to Heart is finally out, British singer-songwriter Mariam replies: “To keep dreaming.” And indeed, it’s truly been dreams—and faith—that led Mariam to return to creating music after two years away from the spotlight. Prior to Heart to Heart, she’d recorded tracks for a planned R&B EP that didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped. Eventually, she returned to her roots in gospel music, which helped her find her voice again as well as a renewed passion to create.

Influenced by soul-stirring art, the South Londoner began singing at the age of ten. She wrote poems that became song lyrics, and later taught herself how to play the guitar. Though she was born and raised in the U.K., Mariam cites her Nigerian heritage as a powerful influence on her sound and ideas. American musical influences like Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, and Lauryn Hill also broadened her palette, inspiring her to bring gospel’s buoyant energy and soul’s introspection into her own unique brand of pop-folk music.

Bandcamp spoke to Mariam about second chances, learning to accept help, and weaving hope into her music.

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Amygdala: A Tradition of Punk Anti-Colonial Resistance

Amygdala

The results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Trump’s ensuing cabinet choices have brought the U.S. into line with a worrying global Western move toward the far right (see: Greece, the U.K., France). For marginalized people in the Americas both in and out of the DIY punk scene, all this means is that the curtain’s been ripped back, the chaos exposed—the colonial legacies and the long histories of resistance.

There will surely still be some cliched and irritating calls for punk to “get good again, like it was during Reagan”—as if important punk resistance suddenly stopped in 1992 with a Democratic president. (Anyone who’s been paying attention would beg to differ.) Five-piece San Antonio political punk cabal Amygdala position themselves as part of this ongoing tradition; they started making ferocious, caustic and outspoken hardcore together in 2014, and their 2016 effort, Population Control, certainly pulls no punches. “Semillas,” their latest track, was recorded live in October of 2016 on their recent tour, and features audio of a ceremonial prayer performed by indigenous Guatemalans at a benefit for Standing Rock that Amygdala also played, a powerful statement of pan-indigenous solidarity.

We spoke to Bianca (vocals) and Yole (bass) from Amygdala about the rise in visibility for queer punks and punks of color, how the punk scene at large can become more inclusive, and why punk is so useful still as a sound of resistance.

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Azymuth’s “Fênix” Rises

Azymuth

Jazz-funk trio Azymuth rose—already aflame—from the fluorescent ashes of the countercultural, kaleidoscopic world of Tropicalismo (or tropicalia). Since the early ‘70s, the Rio de Janeiro natives have gone on to create their own signature style, “samba doido” (“crazy samba”), an electric mix of spacious jazz with heavy funk and traditional Brazilian folk rhythms. They’ve been one of Brazil’s most experimentally daring groups for decades running.

Over two dozen studio albums later, they’ve gone through a difficult lineup change for 2016’s Fênix. Legendary keyboardist José Roberto Bertrami tragically passed away in 2012, and Kiko Continentino, a skilled pianist who’d also been a student of Bertrami’s, inherited his place in the group alongside drummer Ivan “Mamão” Conti and upright bassist/composer Alex Malheiro. Fênix is their first new material since Bertrami’s death, and, as the title suggests, this is Azymuth reborn in their latest configuration.

While Bertrami was obviously a core component of the samba doido sound, Moraes faithfully carries on his legacy. Fênix is a soulful, blissed-out head trip of a record, a cosmic daydream that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with some of Azymuth’s ‘70s classics (Azimuth, Light As A Feather). Samba doido’s classic characteristics—slick, supple bass lines, syncopated percussion, and iridescent keyboards—are all here, and the group’s chemistry and energy is unflagging. Recently returned from an Azymuth European tour, we caught up with Conti, who shared the challenges and pleasures of the group’s recharged life.

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