Interview :: Velvet Chrome & Francesco de Gallo
It is my pleasure to offer Francophone content for the first time on Weird Canada. This is a huge step forward and one I’m very excited about. Below are two audio interviews conducted by Grabriel Jasmin as part of CHOQ’s Les Artisans du Bruit program focused on capturing some of the fringe musics crafted within Quebec at the moment. We will hear from Jane L. Kasowicz and Francesco de Gallo of Velvet Chrome, a group who poignantly encapsulates Montreal’s bleak psych-dementia, followed by an interview with Francesco concerning his record label Hobo Cult (a Weird Canada favorite) and various solo projects. Gabriel has generously transcribed the interviews into English so those not-so-fluent in French can read along. Enjoy!!
/////////////// VELVET CHROME TRANSCRIPTION ///////////////
Gabriel Jasmin (CHOQ): How would you describe your music?
Francesco de Gallo (Velvet Chrome): We like improvising in different genres, somewhere in between cosmic-tribal and…
Jane L. Kasowicz (Velvet Chrome): Italo…
Not italo-disco, we have an actual italian song that’s like a psychedelic horror soundtrack. We also play garage rock.
Something like garage-psych-noise.
You used the word improvisation in there. Does Velvet Chrome rely on improvisation a lot?
Mmm yeah… Sometimes we try to write songs with a fixed idea and work around that, but our songs often come from jamming out.
It’s mostly improvised jams that we record. When they’re good we’ll re-work them into songs. Though we don’t always play them that way in our live shows.
I’ve noticed you guys exchange instruments during live shows. Is there a reason for that?
We both like exploring with a wide variety of sounds
Does the sound vary depending who plays the instrument?
Yeah for sure. Everyone has a personal style. When Francesco plays guitar it’s always with a no-wave attitude while I’m more garage myself.
I’ve started playing drums and when I’m behind the kit I play very square 4/4 beats, but Jane plays in a much more deconstructed, jazzy way. It gives a very different background.
Your releases have always been very limited editions of 20 or 30 copies, and the packaging was unique for each of them. As a band, do you have a close relationship with visual arts?
Yes. Well, at the start I was making small runs because I was a bit unsure if our material was worth releasing. But they sold out so I made a limited second run. For the new album called Readymades, which is an artistic concept, I wanted to make unique covers so that every one would get a personal relationship with the album.
What are your projects for 2010?
I’ll be starting my solo project JLK, which stands for Jane L. Kasowicz. As Velvet Chrome, we’ll be releasing a … split?
Yeah possibly a split with Hamborghinni, who are two members of Aids Wolf. In february we’ll also be playing Aids Wolf and brooklyn-based Mouthus at Casa Del Popolo.
We might be doing an album soon…
Yeah, we really should. We have tons of unreleased jams, now we have to sort through them to find the best ones. We also have lots of unrecorded pieces that we’d like to finish.
/////////////// FRANCESCO DE GALLO // HOBO CULT TRANSCRIPTION ///////////////
Gabriel Jasmin (CHOQ): Francesco de Gallo, you have so many ongoing projects I had to make list to remember them. You play music in : Velvet Chrome, Wasted Widow, Pradada, Hobo Cubes, Cobra Kiss! and your most recent project Magic Beach. Furthermore, you manage your own label Hobo Cult Records and release DJ mixes under the name Hippies Before Priests. Am I forgetting any?
Francesco de Gallo (Velvet Chrome): I don’t know, there’s so much going on. Lots of untitled collaborations are to be released in 2010 on either cassette, CD-R or free download.
First off, how many hours of sleep do you manage to get?
Let’s say between 6 and 8. Eight hours is the best.
Being involved in so many different projects, how do you keep them independent from one another, so they don’t sound all the same?
I don’t know, there’s no clear borders. For my solo work, when i’m working on a loop or a song, the outcome will not be the same whether there are vocals, instruments I used and the way I used them. That usually defines the project. When collaborating with others the result will be different each time.
When playing with others do you write the songs on the spot ? Or do you approach other musicians with definite song ideas?
No, never. I don’t like… I stay away from fascism with Hobo Cult. It’s a big family with people I love. When they create things I enjoy, I like to put them out as an album, even if I had nothing to do with writing nor playing the music. It’s really friendly. I record my collaborations, even one-time jams with buddies, and even though we’ll never play a single live show, I might release it to cassette.
Indeed, except for Velvet Chrome, you have a big recorded output but you play very few live shows. is it because you prefer recorded music to live music or is for practical reasons?
Well actually, a lot of recorded material was taken from live shows. With Wasted Widow, we’ve only played two shows, the first one I have on DVD, but then the band has added a bassist for it’s second show and we recorded that to tape. With Magic Beach, we’ve taken lots of material from our last show in late December. A lot of these will be released in 2010.
Your label Hobo Cult is the home to all your projects and those of your friends. How did it start out?
It’s been a year and a half since i’ve started it. I first wanted to release a Pradada album, which was my main solo project at the time, but I had so much recordings that I couldn’t decide what to put on it. Rather, I made compilations that divided the songs by year and posted them for free on the blog. Then I put them on cassette and gave them out. When I was ready to release something new, I knew I wanted to do it myself. It was just a matter of getting my songs heard by the most people. Whenever I release music I like to try and make it accessible, which is why i’ll post free downloads once the tapes or the CDs have sold out.
Are you planning to have releases on vinyl?
Yeah, we are planning something with Magic Beach. It’s a recent project with Philippe Lambert, who also plays in Goa, Monstre and Monkey King. We will be releasing a split tape with Ass, from San Diego, then maybe another tape or CDr and hopefully a 7″ or 12″ in spring, followed by short week-long tour in the United States.
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