Ooh it's a fresh new edition of Three Music Thingz, the blogseries where I ask musicians for three thingz that are essential to their musicianship.
Today we have Victor Nawebone, a Venezuelan recording artist who usually records experimental rock music under the project name El Café Atómico, and who last year put out an experimental ELECTRONIC album called Cocuy. It's a thrilling listen, darting from breakcore to chiptune to industrial as if trying to speedrun a particularly anarchic arcade game, with vibey song titles like "Fear and Loathing in Cabudare", "Atardecer de 8-Bits" ("8-Bit Sunset"), and "Noche Reflejada en los Faros de un Malibu del 72" ("Night Reflected in the Headlights of a '72 Malibu").
Nawebone describes the album as "a homage to my homestate in Venezuela, Lara, and its capital city, Barquisimeto. It's at once a reflection of the wild nature of the city at large and my reclusive, videogame addicted experience while living there. Nostalgic, yeah, and at the same time it's not only about looking back with longing but also about reviving the past and places that have been far away from me for some time." Cocuy is metallically textured, mesmerizingly looped, and full of raw and vibrant energy—please be careful if you play the album in the car, as I feel like listening to it will hypnotize you into an instant speeding ticket.
Without further ado, let's hear about Victor Nawbone's Three Music Thingz...
- VENEZUELAN MUSIC
I used to believe there was pretty much NOTHING going on in the Venezuelan music landscape that was of much interest for a very long time, but during the last couple years I've managed to get in contact with my fellow compatriots and contemporaries of the Venezuelan scene. I think there's something really interesting going on in there. Not only is it unbelievably varied and experimental (with exponents from genres such as avant-folk all the way to abstract hip hop or bedroom skramz) but there's some really particular dynamics going on.
Being that a lot of us in the 20 to 40ish age group have migrated outside of the country (including myself, now in Uruguay) this scene doesn't have like a particular geographic center, because even the artists that remained in the country are based in different cities, so it's more of a worldwide web of Venezuelan musicians communicating, bonding and collaborating over the internet. Of course this is a common phenomena in the age of the internet but I still think it's a pretty interesting event that even though we're so far away from each other we have decided to bond with people from our country because in each of us lies an understanding and a cultural code that, while you can explain it to somebody else, there's a deeper connection in knowing the other lived the same stuff as you did that's difficult to find somewhere else.
- MUSIC AS SPACES, ALBUMS AS MOVIES
My whole life I've been as much into cinema as I have been into music and there's always been a very close relationship between the two in my life. Music has this incredible ability to conjure up very specific scenarios in my mind. I recently listened to this song called "Entre la danza y la pared" by Venezuelan musician Domingo En Llamas and it made me feel like i was in a tremendously large, dimly lit, very dirty supermarket with very few people roaming around, not quite liminal but not quite functional neither, just this thing that's working as it should but it's mechanisms are mysterious. I'm fascinated by this possibility of music and i've based a lot of my work around it.
I sometimes think of projects that I'm making in terms of like: the desert album, the Caribbean voodoo island album, the surreal suburb album. It's music that alludes to stories and places but is not explicitly telling you a tale from start to finish. Just the general feel of that something that you're referring to. And while this elliptic and atmospheric way of going about storytelling comes more naturally to music, there's parallels that can be made with cinema. Both are arts that, unlike painting or architecture, depend on time to function, and so there's rhythm that can only work with duration, a pace, a way to set up expectations or to crumble them down. You see the films that Vincente Minnelli made when he was not making musicals and they are very musical in their own way with their elegant camera movements and scene blocking that seems to bring music out of silence. Our perspective of reality is holistic and I have the theory that all of us have synesthesia to one extent or the other, all sounds and images and movements and physical feelings to the touch mixed in the same big bowl.
A lot of people don't realize it, but I believe that as the 21st century progresses, those who have been very antagonistic to piracy are gonna realize how important it is for the musical landscape. Living in a third world country that up until recently had no Spotify access, I wouldn't have had a way to get to most of the music that I listen to today, and that has influenced me if it were not for piracy and copyright-violating updates of albums on YouTube. Same goes for movies and videogames! And I'm pretty damn sure that the same goes for a lot more people, even in first world countries.
Piracy doesn't mean that you're not gonna get anything for your music and you're gonna die broke, it's just a democratization of culture. The choose your price mechanics of Bandcamp and the blow up of physical format sales are more than enough proof that, even if given the choice of listening for free, the people that care and that have the means to economically back up your music are gonna do it anyway, and I think that's more beautiful, because it's not born out of obligation but out of the people themselves and the desire to support us music-makers. And about the people who already have made quite a bit of money off of their music by now, who the fuck cares if I deduct like 20 dollars from Taylor Swift's or Kanye West's net worth?
Thank you so much Victor! And thank YOU for reading I Enjoy Music. If you like it, tell a friend about it.
When compiling the thingz for this interview, I also asked Victor for any other pertinent info for the post, and received this delightful list in response.
VENEZUELAN MUSIC PROJECTS OF INTEREST
Nhil Ov Curse
Sebastián Bauza-Bueno A.K.A. Me Casé Con La Princesa De Andorra
Khali & Cahier
Aún No Hija
mil ataris por segundo
Todo Bien Todo Mal
MOVIES THAT I'VE SEEN LATELY THAT I HEAVILY RECOMMEND
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974, H.B. Halicki)
Angel Dust (1994, Gakuryu Ishii)
Suzhou River (2000, Lou Ye)