The new split release from Jacktone Records and the Violet-helmed Naive label has its origins in two disparate and divergent sonic sources. A collision of artists from notably different perspectives, it centres around a cross-pollination of styles: on one hand, the angular, unfettered sounds of subversive techno punk Gayphextwin, the other, Pépe’s bass-heavy, beatific melodicism.
Gaining wider recognition having been a household name on the Bay Area circuit, this is something of a landmark moment for Gayphextwin. Difficult compared to Pépe’s contributions on the flip, she records her music live in one-take, and it shows – even with occasional disarmingly emotive flourishes, the raw, visceral energy that can only come from live recording continues unabated on every track. Pépe draws from electro, breaks and full-throttle jungle to match the energy. He dials things up from what we’ve grown accustomed to, but like earlier releases, it all comes surging with playful momentum and luminous melody.
Having remixed each other for the record, we asked Gayphextwin to draft up a few questions for her labelmate, and vice versa.
Gayphextwin: Hi Pépe!! Its been such an honour doing this split with you. Melissa / Darren and the Jacktone family are all incredibly important to me and I’ve been thrilled to become your friend through the process of this split. I know you have a similar affinity to Inês and Naive and i’m curious if you could tell the story of how your relationship to that family started?
Pépe: The honour is mine, it’s been a wonderful trip. Like many of my musical relationships, mine with Naive started through the internet. After falling completely in love with “Togetherness” on Naive001 i started following Violet’s work and being completely astonished with every release, so i took it upon myself to get in contact, you never know where saying hi and trading a couple songs is gonna take you… I think Violet and I have lived many similar scenarios since we’re both trying to push smaller scenes. Also, our kind of “Iberian” connection really shows in our humour and character, so getting along was a very natural thing. Social media gets a lot of deserved questioning because it allows very concerning content, but it has truly opened a bridge between a lot of people around the world, and I hope new platforms arise with a more democratic way of doing things.
Pépe: From what i can hear, your music is often recorded live and direct. When recording live sessions/jams I’ve always struggled with keeping a sense of direction, or a purpose for the tune. I find it very hard to devise how and when things should end, and how to arrange my performance to make it compelling.
My question is, how do you, if you do this, keep a sense of direction when recording live?
Gayphextwin: It’s a gamble for sure! I used to program the heck out of my music, and would spend hours drawing automation lanes, just totally obsessing about every small detail of every song. I was so into this workflow and was really arrogant about how I thought it was THE way to work. 3 years ago my friend Johnny Igaz was talking to me about striving to make music all live and in one take, and I was totally disrespectful and told them that wasn’t the way to be. That it was a waste of time, or something like that. He passed away shortly after that conversation, and without even realising why I was doing it, I adopted that workflow too. It’s a hard topic for me to touch on, but after the Ghostship tragedy in Oakland I realised I was so completely out of touch with myself, and my emotions.
Amongst other things, I was making music the same way I was living life. Meticulously programmed, a product of what I thought others wanted me to be. Everything I’ve made in the past 3 years has been done mostly in 1 sitting. I spend about 15 minutes to an hour on a song, and they’re snapshots of who I am in that moment. If I can’t get a good take on the first try, it’s over. My music is just raw emotions recorded straight away with very little thought. I think there’s a certain magic that’s lost whenever I have to think about something, so I try not to. To answer your question, I have no idea how I keep a sense of direction. I just hit the record button and try to be honest.
Gayphextwin: Your music all feels very hi-fi and cohesive across releases, while at the same time avoiding feeling stagnant. Having access to your stems for this release really opened my eyes to how your deep and layered your productions can be.
Are there any samples, synth patches, or anything like that that you keep coming back to, or do you collect material from scratch for every production? Are there any bits of kit that you couldn’t live without?
Pépe: I always think that I’ve been very lucky with the way my sound has developed, as almost a thing of serendipity. I think i have a “sound” because I always seem to be drawn back to the same sounds, and I try and see how much i can squeeze out of them, Logic Pro has definitely influenced this. Working on Logic, there are many things that you can’t do that you could do on Ableton, or a sampler, so i have a very particular way of sampling by manually stretching and chopping breaks that drives Ableton users mad (and me, to an extent).
Im always using the sub bass patches on Alchemy, Arturia’s Prophet V and CS-80 (which to paraphrase Overmono, always seems to drift into “Dystopian nonsense”). I have a massive drum sounds folder, and I’m almost always trying to find a random sound I’ve never used for drums, and I always find something surprising. I’m a 100% DAW producer, so I really could not live without my computer.
Pépe: Inspiration is the most evasive creature I’ve ever met. I find that often the best sources of inspiration are the most indirect / alien to the actual medium you create. What are some weirder sources of inspiration for your music? Im particularly curious of any non-musical things that help you create music in the way you do.
Gayphextwin: I feel you. For me the biggest source of inspiration is my own feelings. I spend a lot of time feeling like an emotionless void of human flesh, and sometimes when I actually do feel something, it can be such an intense and sometimes uncomfortable experience. Making art is how I process that, and sometimes turning moments into a tangible form is the only way for me to understand exactly what it is I’m feeling, and why.
Outside of the arrogant and self absorbed source of inspiration that is myself, I’m constantly humbled by my community at large here in the San Francisco Bay Area, by my day job as a cook, the closeted transsexualism of Kurt Cobain, and lastly, but not leastly, my windowless room in the middle of a legendary lesbian hostel.
Gayphextwin: I find that the room I’m in always has a distinct effect on the sound of the music I make. The room I live in in San Francisco is partially to blame for my transition towards blasted out punk rock tinged dance music.
How does your environment influence your art? Did moving from Spain to the UK change your workflow, at all? and lastly, what does your studio look like?
Pépe: My environment changes the music I make massively. I’m obsessed with natural light, and for a year I changed studio 3 times, from a windowless one, to one with a small glass pane, to my current one with big wide windows where I can have loads of plants. I now walk down rice/onion/pumpkin fields for 20 minutes to get to my studio, I see herons and seagulls, and I don’t have to hear cars or police sirens, this has changed the mood of my music massively, it’s always more whimsical and hopeful, and not so charged with melancholy anymore.
When I lived in the UK I always felt inspired, but always by a negative energy that made my music sound quite pretty, but sad. My studio is a long L-shaped room divided in two: one half has a DJ setup and a small kitchen, the other half has a big sofa and my production desk. There’s plants and paintings everywhere, and a cable rat king hiding behind my desk.
Pépe: Between you, me, Jacktone and Naive, this has been a very collaborative EP in all aspects, we’ve ended up remixing each other and however different our music might be, I think this collaboration has brought out very compelling similarities or matches in what we do. However, with collaboration I always find there is a lot of sacrifice in your personal output in order to match the other parties.
What is your mindset when collaborating with other artists? Which artists have you collaborated with that you enjoyed and why so?
Gayphextwin: Speak for yourself! (You did, lmao) I’m a crazy control freak bitch who does NOT work well with others and will sacrifice nothing of her vision!! That being said, there are very few people in this world I’ve ever been able to collaborate with successfully, and I’m happy to say that this split has been one of those occasions.
I think that without a mutual level of respect between all parties involved the odds of a successful art are severely dampened. Also, if the end goal is different between collaborators good art is near impossible. If all parties have the same intention than good art is inevitable. Also just for the record, I don’t know if our art is really all that different. Your songs are all highly emotional, and feel like loving journeys into your soul.
NAIVE009/JKTN070 is out December 13th – pre-order here