“I like Joshua Tree” says multi-faceted artist Gonjasufi, double-tasking as he enjoys an evening Nintendo session with his son at home. “It’s like Mars. Not too many people out here -- it’s pretty mellow. Something about the desert just gives me tranquility to finish projects,” adds the native San Diegan.
And Gonjasufi is indeed finishing projects. The artist known the world over for collaborating with the likes of Jay-Z and Gaslamp Killer will play his San Diego record release party at the Til Two Club on Friday, August 26 in support of his recently-released album Callus. Additionally, he just wrapped up a collaborative endeavor with Vice Magazine and has both European and Southern California appearances on the horizon.
Not surprisingly, conversation is effortlessly rewarding with an artist like Gonjasufi, who focuses on the craft itself rather than the business behind it, and is informed by an eclectic taste in music. Born to a Mexican mother and Ethopion-American father, Gonjasufi’s Chula Vista upbringing and involvement in the 90s Southern California music scene have served him well, allowing him to comfortably and authoritatively traverse intersecting genres of hip hop, experimental music, psych, and more. And while I find our exchange during the course of the interview taking welcome detours as we discuss a shared appreciation for Ariel Pink, Peanut Butter Wolf, and other figures who champion musical ventures outside the mainstream, it becomes apparent that Gonjasufi’s City Heights appearance in August is more far-reaching than just a standard release party.
“Every two months, I’m going to do something like a showcase at the same spot, the Til Two Club”, he explains. “I’ve been wanting to bridge the gap between the L.A. and San Diego scenes, the 90s generation and the new cats, so I reached out to Freestyle Fellowship’s Self Jupiter who’s got a new band with Kenny Segal called the Kleenerz. I also reached out to Koreatown Oddity, who is signed to Stones Throw Records, and is part of the younger generation’s hip hop scene. These are guys that I’m inspired by, and I love what they’re doing.”
The momentum behind this recurring event in San Diego is motivated by Gonjasufi’s desire not only to strengthen ties between the San Diego and L.A. music scenes (and even creative communities farther afield), but also to give back to his hometown by providing an inspiring, creative forum. “I just want to bring back to San Diego, to let heads in Daygo to know how much I love them. I want to give everybody space to start rocking and get excited.”
Although Gonjasufi is clearly at home with hip hop, it’s not surprising that he’s also comfortable with both the album release party and upcoming showcase events venturing outside the genre’s parameters. “It’s not necessarily going to be rap or hip hop all the time,” he explains. “If there are bands that want to rock, I’m looking to give people a stage and create movement again. I want every artist that comes through to feel free and safe in an environment where they can express themselves. For me, it’s like a way of saying like, ‘Fuck the Internet -- let’s just get everybody in place and start rocking again.’”
Gonjasufi released his latest solo album, Callus (Warp) on August 19. The release party on August 26 presented by Bujwah Strangers,will include performances by:
Johaz (of Dag Savage)
The Kleenerz (Self Jupiter & Kenny Segal)
Skrapez (Phsychopop & 10shun)
The Koreatown Oddity
Analog Burners (DJ set)