Gonjasufi Releases New Album at the Til Two Club, Starts a Showcase, and Gets Southern California Rocking Again

“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.

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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.”

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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.’”

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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)

DJ Pound

The Koreatown Oddity

Analog Burners (DJ set)

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The Garden Brings Plenty of Vada Vada to City Heights

The Shears twins, who constitute conceptual punk band the Garden, paid a remarkable visit to the Til Two Club in City Heights on Friday, May 20. The sibling duo masterfully broke in the venue’s brand new stage, making it a night that will be remembered for years to come. Wyatt and Fletcher hail from relatively nearby Orange County, but San Diego appearances by the two are rare, so it was a noteworthy evening in several respects.

The Garden's visit to the Til Two Club in San Diego is one that will not be forgotten any time soon.

The Garden's visit to the Til Two Club in San Diego is one that will not be forgotten any time soon.

First, it’s worth pointing out that, like most San Diego venues, the Til Two Club is not an all-ages location. Consequently, Friday’s audience was not representative of the true age demographic of the young band. Closely aligned with Burger Records and Epitaph Records, the brothers’ genre-bending irreverence resonates profoundly with a sizeable, youthful, culture-savvy audience, as a brief survey of social media platforms can attest. In fact, the venue’s management confirmed that it had received an unprecedented volume of callers in the days leading up to the band’s appearance, asking if the show was all-ages.  

The Garden’s presence and unflappable energy, however, never belied any awareness of the situation, if they were indeed surprised, aware of, or concerned by it at all. The crowd was, nonetheless, about as young as the law of our good land allows, and the energy level never dipped during the 35-minute powerhouse set, which kicked off with “Crystal Clear”, and also included “Jester’s Game”,”All Smiles Over Here:-)”, and “Gift”, all of which are from the band’s fall 2015 album, titled haha. Though the performance had a beguilingly casual feel as the brothers moved fluidly on stage and through the audience (neither the pit nor the crowd surfing ever subsided throughout the set), it was also remarkably tight. It’s hardly surprising that the identical twins appeared to have an uncanny ability to understand and communicate to each other and the audience where they were in the set as they traversed their eclectic landscape, which drew not only from punk, but also hip hop and big beat.

Believe it or not, Wyatt Shears is somewhere in this picture.

Believe it or not, Wyatt Shears is somewhere in this picture.

Onstage, the band made a powerful visual and aural impression with their striking good looks (they’ve even made a foray into the world of modeling with Yves Saint Laurent) coexisting with legit, punk rock immediacy. This mix of glamor and grime is perhaps a skeleton key to understanding the Garden’s character and their self-styled, informing credo of “Vada Vada” (“An idea that represents pure creative expression, that disregards all previously made genres and ideals,” as Wyatt writes on their website). Adding to all this a humanizing sense of humor and fun, the Garden showed an appreciative San Diego crowd why they are one of the most intriguing, multi-layered, and dynamic acts on the scene.

Age restrictions notwithstanding, the venue’s own apparent disdain for constrictive allegiance to genre (in recent years, artists as heavy and diverse as Blowfly, Gary Wilson, Too Short, Paul Collins, and H.R. have performed there) played well with the dynamic brothers’ all-out assault on the limitations and constructs of an aging corporate music industry no longer up to the task of categorizing or understanding an act as multi-faceted and forward-thinking as theirs. Wyatt ably covered bass duties throughout, while Fletcher manned the red-hued Vistalite drum kit with often blistering agility, but both were equally at home jumping to the front of stage with quick-fire lyrical barrages. In fact, the welcome unpredictability of the set moved the proceedings along so briskly and pleasantly that cell phones and other distractions had little to no presence during the evening-- a significant testament to the band’s magnetism.

For a punk band on a Friday night, the twins brought some heady concept indeed, though brilliantly succeeded in packaging the concept into an audience-friendly, palatable show that must also be described as a decidedly visceral, sweaty affair. After all, it was just a Friday night at a rock ‘n roll bar, and the palpable vibe of the crowd confirmed the night (produced by Bujwah and ListenSD) was special, to say the least. It seems Vada Vada is something better communicated through experience than explanation, and the Garden gave San Diego quite an experience indeed.

 

 

 

New R. Stevie Moore Single "Boysage" Released on Vinyl by Bleeding Gold Records

I am finally able to announce that the split vinyl single for R. Stevie Moore and Boys Age is officially released. I write "finally" because although (or more correctly because) vinyl is once again the physical medium of choice for the majority of music listeners, it's not the easiest or quickest process in the world to get the stuff pressed these days.

But good things come to those who wait, and this is definitely a good thing. As the drummer on the Father of Lo-Fi's track here, "Boysage", I am admittedly not a disinterested party, but I'd also be dishonest if I didn't say that this track is classic, infectious RSM genius. I'm including Ken Linck's brilliant stop motion animation video here, which I think complements the song wonderfully.

The limited-edition single comes in various colors. Photo by Roger Preston.

The limited-edition single comes in various colors. Photo by Roger Preston.

The record has two sides, of course, and I highly encourage you to flip the disc over after listening to "Boysage" (about twenty consecutive times!) to check out Boys Age's offering, "Be Your R. Stevie Moore" (see what they did there?).

R. Stevie Moore and Anders Larsson in 2014. Photo by Bebe McPherson

R. Stevie Moore and Anders Larsson in 2014. Photo by Bebe McPherson

While I encourage any and all RSM and Boys Age fans to buy a copy here from Bleeding Gold Records for a paltry seven dollars, I know they will sell out, since there are only 200 copies around to my knowledge. Rest assured when these gems are gone, however, that you can buy the song online here, as well as the complete album, entitled Fifteen Tons.

Thanks, as always, for tuning in!