Tuesday, 25 November 2008

"i don't make disco music"

For those who are remotely familiar with my writing it would seem as though I have a slight obsession with all things LA, while I can't dispute this fact, i must point out that I never go out of my way find music specifically from this corner of the world. It just so happens that almost everything I hear coming of the sunny state of California shines like a beacon and my ship can do nothing but be drawn in by it.
This time though I am going to write about someone a little different from what i'd normally rattle on about. Her name is Ramona Gonzalez aka Nite Jewel, Ramona is a artist specialising in video and sound installation and while i'm not really an art buff, in any sense of the notion, her CV is an impressive collection of collaborations and recommendations from all walks of underground art & music world. Her music as Nite Jewel is, refreshingly, recorded all on 8 track cassette deck which gives it the delicious lo-fi sounds we've come to associate with a lot of what's coming out of LA at the moment. The beautiful hazy sound of layering tape tracks lends the music a distinct esoteric quality, in the sense you feel as though you're sitting on her bed intently listening while she sways about the room wearing something elegantly sexy and performing solely just for you. Unfortunately, she's not but I did manage to get her to answer some questions for us.

**This interview was intended to be my first peice of editorial for a new blog i'm starting to write for thisisoffset but as a whole i'm not overly pleased with the outcome now so I thought i'd post it up here so that it's not wasted in e-space forever.**

BS: Firstly, could you describe your music as though describing it to someone who has never heard it.

RG: I think the Japanese got it right: "xanax pop". I also like "lounge".

BS: What made you choose to record on an 8 track, was it through lack of better equipment or was in a conscious effort to give the music a delicate, otherworldly quality?

RG: My friend Whitemare got me my 8 track. So in that way it was a matter of convenience. But also I don't jive well with digital material. It's not visceral enough for me

BS: Your planning on releasing a 12" on the super hip Italians Do It Better imprint, how did that come about?

RG: It's already released. I was at Whitemare's house listening to some records. His roommate said I was biting "Glass Candy", who I had never heard of. So I listened. I didn't think we resembled, but I wrote to Glass Candy asking them what they thought of that comparison. That's how the lines of communication opened.

BS: Why do you think the sound of disco's past has been revived to such an extent recently?

RG: I don't really have an opinion about it.

BS: When I was younger I remember my Mum used to laugh at my Dad for being a disco fanatic in his youth. Do you think neu-disco is always going to carry that stigma in some peoples eyes or do you think sexy, cool acts like yourself, Glass Candy, Sally Shapiro etc. can rid it of it's misconceptions?

RG: I don't make disco music. I just happen to have grown up in musical traditions that also lend importance to bass and drums. Sometimes people can dance to my music, which is great. If people have misconceptions about dance music, so much the worse for them.

BS: You're from LA right? Are in involved/associated with the LA lo-fi youth punk scene at all? The Smell, Mika Miko etc. How do you rate the current scene in LA, does it help/hinder you in anyway?

RG: Actually I'm from Oakland. I'm not really associated with The Smell scene, but I love to play there. I can't really rate anything because I have such a tiny purview. I mean, I have a small group of friends and basically just go to see them play. Also, Los Angeles is so huge, you can't take such a broad brush to the music that is emerging here. I will say that Los Angeles gets an A+ for its ability to make its people feel comfortable NOT ascribing to any scene at all.
(BS: I wasn't taring LA with the same brush, i was mearly asking if - with her being based in LA an all - she's involved with that scene!?)

BS: And what about being immersed in a rich art scene, what are the benefits or downfalls, if there are any, to that?

RG: The benefits are all the crazy people and all their art information that gets stored in your brain so you can then spew it out in any configuration you please.

BS: What's next for Romana/Nite Jewel?

RG: My full length LP is out now on Gloriette records and full length CD out on Human Ear in a few weeks. Touring with Times New Viking and Deerhunter next week. Some possible dates with Glass Candy in the future.

BS: Lastly, what tracks are guaranteed to get you on the dance floor?

RG: Over and Over by Shalamar

You can purchase Nite Jewel's IDIB LP here

And you can check her myspace here

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