New American Hustle have come through with another full length album just before the year’s end. La Soma Vita is a powerful collection of original tracks, which showcase brilliantly the unique fusion of genres and the poetic intentions of the act. We caught up with the producer behind the project to see how things have been going throughout 2019. Here’s how it went.
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Hey – great to chat with you again! Another new album, and a strong one at that – congrats. What’s this release all about – what’s the theme, and the connection between the song titles?
Though I consider this a proper “debut” album, it’s really a compilation of songs recorded over the past year or so. The songs all represent some of the best of what New American Hustle has to offer. There is a “theme” or “sound” within these nine songs that connects. The song titles are just windows into the music. The lyrics are meaningless and meaningful at the same time. Very open-ended and up to the listener to interpret and make sense of on their own terms. The audience is smart, I don’t want to patronize them by attaching some hollow, contemporary narrative to them.
Do you have a personal interest in history or concepts outside of your personal experiences, and do your stories relate directly to your own journey, or to those you hear of? In either case, why do you think this is the direction you take when songwriting?
I feel the music and lyrics are “snapshots” of my experiences. Almost like vignettes or amalgamations of the common stories we all know and share. On this album, songs like Lolita de Sade refer to literature and lust. Astronaut Song alludes to the Greek myth of Calypso and obviously, Aphrodite Sandals and Artemis Descends refer to Greek myths as well. Again, if the listener picks up on that or thinks it’s bullshit, I’m fine with that – as long as they respond to the bass drum.
There’s often a stark contrast between the intensity of your soundscapes and the softness of the featured vocals. Where in the creative process do the vocals come, and have you ever turned away from something for being a little too ‘out there’?
I usually delete songs where vocals and music don’t mesh, even if it 60% works, I’ll only let it out if I’m 85% happy with a song. I’m holding back over 30 songs right now, because they are not “true” yet. Sometimes if I wait, there seems to be a logical pattern where the songs fit together. I put those 30+ songs in the archives and moved onto a new concept album, a tribute to David Bowie and my friend Tim, called The Climb And Crawl Of Dizzy Starlust and The Riders From Oz. Due out January or February 2020. Probably the best most mature and cohesive group of songs I’ve written to date.
There are at least two or three stand-out songs from each of your projects. Do you think you’ll ever compile a new album based on these favourites, and out of interest – which do you consider to be your best two songs of all time (and why)?
My two all-time favorite songs happen to be on this album: Astronaut Song and La Soma Vita (aka Don’t Give A Fuck). Astronaut Song, because it came to me almost like a dream or “out of thin air”, like all the cliche inspiring moments you hear about. I’m fascinated with space exploration and tried to tie that to the Greek myth of Calypso. La Soma Vita is my tribute to Smashing Pumpkins. The middle section was somewhat like providence. That’s my crowning achievement so far, the middle “Smashing Pumpkins” section of La Soma Vita.
‘Just Keep Hustlin’ seems to be a big part of your whole movement and the workload you’re able to meet – multiple full-length projects in a single year is pretty rare. How soon after completing a project are you thinking about the next, and is there ever a moment of uncertainty or writer’s block – if so, how do you deal with that?
Each project sort of grows from the next. I don’t usually wait to begin or start something new, it’s all just a continuous cycle of song after song. However, I’m currently experiencing writer’s block. Or maybe I’m intentionally holding back the flood gates so I can rest! LOL. Money can be an issue with production and promotion as well. I have a day job so I can’t always fund production until I get paid.
Do you think there’s a connection between our innate need and desire to work and build things, and our passion and need for music; whether as escapism from that, or a means of enhancing it?
If I’m not making music, I’m listening to it, watching films, reading books, taking in information and entertainment. I can’t stop. I usually take summer’s off to relax, but end up working on some project after awhile.
Last time we spoke, you stated – “The “fakeness” of the modern world is our new reality. I feel like sometimes I’m living in the New American Hustle.” Do you still feel the same way, or is there hope for the future?
There is no hope for the future of this world. We are in the Orwellian nightmare with no turning back. I work with young people everyday, they are the children of the apocalypse. There will always be the “good people” kicking against the pricks, but in a couple of hundred years they’ll be outnumbered.
If things were to start over – no internet, no electronics, just the local community and resources – what kind of role would you play, and how would you begin making music?
Mandolins, drums, vocals. The Battle Of Evermore by Led Zeppelin would be our anthem.
Do you have anything in particular planned for 2020, or do you intend to simply go with the flow?
The Climb And Crawl Of Dizzy Starlust And The Riders From Oz will be coming out soon. The future is uncertain, but I’ll think of something.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be, and why?
Would love to hear radio/television play all sorts of music: Classical, jazz, polka, etc. Cut “pop music” and “pop country” in the United States by 90% and urge people to listen to: The Clash, Motown, Stax/Volt, Public Enemy, John Coltrane, Chris Whitley and Sonic Youth.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given as an artist?
U2, The Fly, when Bono sings, every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief, all kill their inspiration and sing about their grief.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Help others, do what makes you happy and please give New American Hustle a listen. Peace out.
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