Kevin Greenspon discusses the intersection of music and abstraction ahead of his show at FOKL on Tuesday night


  • Photo courtesy of the artist

Remarkably prolific Los Angeles electronic  musician Kevin Greenspon plays music that is otherworldly and organic. Each song sounds like something is being birthed or bloomed as it progresses, going from the start of simple sustained chord to a lush garden of sound, something that's much in evidence on his latest record, Betrayed by the Angels/Apropos of Golden Dreams, a split release with Former Selves on Greenspon's own Bridgetown Records.

Greenspon plays FOKL on Tuesday, December 3, with his tourmates in Memphis' Big Waves of Pretty, along with Kansas City's High Diving Ponies and YYU. We spoke to him by phone about the tour and his creative process.

The Pitch
: You're basically getting ready to start the last month of a four-month tour, right?

Greenspon: It's actually a little bit longer. Like, I left in July - on my birthday, of all days. I just wanted my first show of tour to be this big bang, I guess. It was my birthday, it was the release show for my new record that I just put out, and it was the kick-off show. So, I've been out about four months now, and I've got about one month left before I get back to California.

I've read that you like to tour.

Yeah, I do. I don't know what I would be doing otherwise. There are all kinds of blue-collar, lower-middle-class job opportunities out there, but it's not the same.

Is it just you, or is Big Waves of Pretty backing you?

I'm projecting videos that I've made, that friends have made, that I've edited into about a 20-minut-long full video. That's basically my set - playing six pieces, and they're all timed out to the video, and Big Waves of Pretty are playing their own set, which is totally different musically. It's kind of like math-y, rock kind of stuff with all kinds of elements of other styles thrown in a little bit, with country instrumental kind of stuff, and experimental - not quite ambient, but they have interludes and bridges that connect the songs. We are two completely different acts, but we're touring together because we're friends and we get along pretty well.

These visual projections - what do they consist of?

Some of the videos are actually on my site, and they're basically - some friends made music videos for some of my songs from various recent release. I made a couple myself, too - most of which are not online. Throughout the whole span of it, there's only one video that hasn't been edited, altered or appropriated by myself, and that's the one for "Truth and Falling." It's a video by Alessandra Hoshor, and all of the other ones are made by a couple of friends, like Paul Skomsvold - who actually makes the music on the second side of my new record as Former Selves - and a fellow, Matthieu Séry, who had visuals on a DVD I released last year. Josh deLorimier, who I met in Delaware, and makes this great real-time 3-D animation stuff.

Basically, all of these people made some videos for me, and I did some work to them, myself, almost in the way that you might say that someone has remixed a song, but I did that so I could have this performance piece, kind of unbroken, that has all of these videos or elements of them. I just wanted to have it be something that stood together as one larger piece, rather than six smaller videos that were seemingly unrelated.

That sounds fascinating.

I guess it's the best of this - or just playing live - it's just, now that I'm incorporating video, people have really been liking it and finding much more to relate to and connect with, having the video element, than just playing music. I think that's a really big part of it for me, because I want people to find their own context to put the music within. Having that visual part really helps, because even if it's abstract or not really specific with clear subject matter or storyline, I think people come up with their own ideas about what they're seeing and hearing, and it doesn't have to be about what it's about for me.

It seems interesting that a lot of DIY artists are starting to take visuals back from the idea that they're an arena-show thing, and bring it back to the way every psychedelic rock band in the '60s had their own oil light show.

Yeah, it seems that it's not very interesting seeing a guy with an acoustic guitar and a mic, or a table and some electronic equipment. Obviously, there are always going to be people who are mesmerized by the simplicity or inertness of what's going on, but for the general population, that's not super-interesting to see, visually, even if you love the music. I think just having another element to it, and working with that, shows that you're serious about what you're doing. 

Kevin Greenspon with High Diving Ponies and YYU at FOKL tomorrow, Tuesday, December 3. Info here

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