15 de janeiro de 2018

UF INTERVIEWS: NICOLE TURLEY (2014)

Português | English

June, 2014:

Nicole Turley was born 33 years ago in Garden Grove, a city with less than 200,000 inhabitants in the state of California, near the border with Mexico, and very early became interested in art. She began dancing as a child and as any dancer approached to the music. And that's what led her to be a multi-instrumentalist, but mainly to be a drummer, because as she herself tells us, "playing the drums and bass are dancing with your hands, instead of your feet" Nicole began playing drums at age 22, after about 18 years dancing, started bands with friends, including Seventh Sea, Blood Everywhere, Licorice Piglet, Black Umbrella and WEAVE!, but his work was really known on a larger scale with the Swahili Blonde in 2009. Nicole also runs a record label, the Neurotic Yell Records, which features a cast of bands of friends who she thinks deserve to be heard. Besides all this, Nicole is John Frusciante's wife since July 31, 2011. She told us about a marriage of two people with music and art in the heart, and took us to a wonderful ride for his career and influences. Check it out the interview below:


Universo Frusciante: Since Swahili Blonde’s first release, Man Meat, the music of the band has evolved in each album. With the new album Deities in Decline, what progress you think the band has had?
Well I work on the albums by myself – writing the songs, recording, mixing, producing, etc. The band part happens when we’re learning the record to play live. Each album has different feelings, themes, and inspirations behind them. So I guess I don’t look at it so much as progress made, but each new album as another story to tell.

We saw a bigger post-punk influence on the demos of the new album on Swahili Blonde’s Bandcamp, mainly in “Discover Aurora”, as we also already saw in “The Golden Corale”, in 2011. Was there an initial idea in writing the album? Do you have a different musical concept for each album, or do the songs have their own identity?
That’s funny because I thought the demos for the new songs sounded a lot more pop than previous SB songs. It’s always interesting to me how people get so many different ideas from listening to the same song, or seeing the same piece of art. Anyways, yes, the SB records always have a theme and visual scape behind them. Man Meat was very Africa based, in desert landscapes, animals that inhabit those places, the beauty and mystery behind primitive cultures, tribes, and their rituals – all very pagan, like an African version of The Wicker Man. PTBP had a very underwater feel to me – I would always get this visual of a colorful animated underwater disco – like a bright and saturated scene from The Water Babies. I’m still finding out what feel Deities In Decline will have.



What do you have to “adapt” on Swahili Blonde songs to play them live?
We have to adapt quite a bit. When we were a 7-8 piece band, the live versions of the songs were pretty different sounding than the recordings - but I really like that. I like seeing a band live and having that be a completely different sonic experience than listening to the record at home. The last show we did, which was Feb 2012 I think, we were without Alan, Quinn, and Adam, so rather than trying to fill their shoes (which are hard shoes to fill) I tried a little experiment where we played to backing tracks of drums, drum machine, and guitar, and had live bass, violin, and vocals. It took a while to find the right groove for that set-up, but once we did, everyone in the band was very pleased with how it sounded.



What enchants you about experimental music? Do you think the mainstream pop music needs more experimentation rather than always having the same formula targeting success?
I like when people feel uninhibited and free in any creative form. I like the intention of discovery within the creative process. So many people these days are result oriented. Like the band that’s already thought out their record contract, before they’ve played their first show. I saw an incredible Peter Gabriel concert at The Hollywood Bowl a year or two ago, and he had said something about that; how the process is always so much more interesting than the outcome. I agree. I wish people would focus on the journey more and not be so concerned right off the bat about the destination.

Swahili Blonde’s sound is very synesthetic, visual and dancey. Before being a multi-instrumentalist, you did ballet and worked as photographer. Can you see some techniques of these other forms of art in the creative process of your music?
Yes, definitely. I’m a very visual person, so I always see still photos in my head (kind of like scenes) of the songs I’m working on. Sometimes it feels like I’m writing a score or soundtrack to what I see, which is pretty cool. And dance is in there too. I really feel the only reason why I was able to pick up drums and bass so quickly was because of my dance background. My body and mind have understood rhythm in a deeply ingrained way since I was very young. To me drumming and playing bass is the same as dancing with your hands, rather than your feet.



How is the writing process of Swahili Blonde? Do you write, play and mix? The songs are still initiated by the bass?
Yes, I write, record, mix, produce, and now master all the songs myself. I write all the songs on bass first. When I record, I start with a drum machine track, then play bass to that, then add in live drums and percussion, then keys, and then anything else I hear. I’m a firm believer in recording any and all ideas, no matter what they are (there’s no such thing as a bad idea!). It’s better for editing to have more than enough material, than too little.



Did John participate in Deities in Decline on some songs or the mixing process, like what happened on Man Meat and Psycho Tropical Ballet Pink?
John played guitar on Man Meat and PTBP, but I mixed both those records myself. He played guitar on the 4 songs I have so far for Deities In Decline (those versions aren’t available to stream). I’m not sure if he’ll play on any others for that LP; I’ll have to see where the music goes.

What led you to found Neurotic Yell? Did you always want to share music that you think deserves to be heard? What are the future projects of the label?
I started Neurotic Yell out of the frustration of dealing with labels. I knew my music would be on a smaller scale (not mainstream) so once I did some research, I found out releasing your music at that level is not that difficult, so I gave it a go. I never expected anything I released to be popular per-say, but it was important to me that the music my friends and I were making had a platform to be heard and was available to the like-minded folks who were interested in it. And that the music would be released exactly how the artist wanted it to be. At Neurotic Yell the bands are responsible for recording, mixing, producing, and mastering their own music, and putting their album art together. So they turn in their masters and artwork to me and I turn it into production, changing nothing. It’s their music, it’s their vision, no one knows it better than them, so the release should be exactly how they want it to be. I’m really an advocate for that.



Kimono Kult: Laena Geronimo, Dante White Aliano, Teri Gender Bender, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Nicole Turley and John Frusciante
Releases for this year...well there was the Kimono Kult EP in March. I have a new band with my dear friend Jennifer Fraser (aka Holiday J) called Amoureux; our first EP will be released July 29th. And because so much time has passed, I’ve decided to start over with Deities In Decline, so that will come out Spring 2015. But in the meantime, I’ll be releasing a Swahili Blonde EP for free in August or September. And we’ll see more towards Fall or Winter what’s going on for next year with other releases.

What are the differences and similarities between the bands of the cast of Neurotic Yell as VAGENDA, Raw Geronimo, Sexual Castles, etc? What must a band have to be part of this group?
I limit the releases on the label to my friends mainly because I know them well, so communication is mellow, balanced, and easy for the most part. I run the label by myself (no assistants or anything) so clear simple friendly communication is a definite necessity.


You have produced many albums since the start of your label. Which changes and influences have you had over the years to not repeat ideas?
As a music producer, when I work with other artists, I firmly believe in paying close attention to what the magic and nuance is to them specifically and then make those qualities shine in a way that resonates with them; rather than trying to turn them into something they’re not. So many producers do that these days – make a band sound like what they think they should sound like. It’s a real self-serving way to work within music, because you make it all about you and not about the band. I never worry about repeating ideas because if you’re working on a pure level, these ideas and inspirations don’t come from us anyway. They come from a higher place and are channeled through us. The best possible relationship we can have to creativity is as a conduit.

How do you see the importance of the labels on the actual music, with less selling of CDs? The vinyl is still a good option? And how does Neurotic Yell handle downloads?
With the label, I really focus on quality not quantity. I’m not interested in how many records sell, or if the label releases are being passed around, shared, downloaded, etc for free. What’s important to me is that the artist is happy with what they’re releasing and that there’s a home base people can go to hear this music.


Recently, we heard about the death of Devo drummer Alan Myers. The Neurotic Yell website posted a tribute to him. As a drummer, were you influenced by him?
Yes, very much. Alan was a very inspiring person; as a friend and a musician.

You said once you would like to give drum lessons, but didn’t have time to. Do you now have free time to do this kind of thing?
That’s funny because I just asked my friend Miles Crawford (an incredible drummer) if he would give me drum lessons. I really want to learn some Siouxsie and The Banshees songs. Budgey’s one of my all time favorite drummers. Long story short, I think need to take more drum lessons before I give them.

Do you have hobbies? Do you like karaoke?
I love karaoke! Infact Arianna Basco (fellow Swahili Blonder) got me a karaoke machine for Christmas. It was the perfect present. She knows me so well!



Did you participate in the music video of "Imitation of Life" by REM? If yes, how was it?
Wow. I can’t believe you know about that. I did that video when I was 19 or 20. It was a neat experience being in a music video when I first moved to LA, but I don’t have the right personality type to go out on auditions for things like that. I’m too introverted, quiet, and shy. So that was my first and last casting audition.

How did you meet John? 
We met at a mutual friends house.

In 2010, we saw a video with you, John, Linda Ramone and JD King in Italy. Do you like to travel with friends?
Yeah, I love to travel. That was a fun trip.



You recently got married. In 2010, you said in an interview that you intended to marry with the song “A Marriage Made in Heaven” by Tindersticks as the background. Did this happen?
Haha. I forgot about that. Unfortunately, no. No Tindersticks. I do love that song though.

How is it being married to a musician, when you’re a musician too? Besides obviously creating great music together, do you think about raising kids someday?
People have commented to me about that before – like “Oh it must be challenging that you and your husband have the same occupation…”. It seems to me that would only be difficult if there was a competitiveness or jealousy involved in the relationship. We definitely don’t have that. We’re very supportive of each other, while having a respect and understanding about our own autonomous space as artists. I think it’s really important to respect the artist, but love the person.


What can you tell us about your collaboration in Letur-Lefr? Do you like the name of album? And you and John being music producers, do you share work ideas? What do you like on his progressive synth pop albums?
With Letur-Lefr John asked me to sing on a song he was working on, and so I did, happily. That was a fun experience. I thought him calling the EP that was very sweet. We play each other what were working on sometimes, but it’s not really a sharing of ideas per-say. We both have a pretty strong and definitive creative compass that guides us, so the pieces of music are mostly done by the time we share with each other. I like everything about his synth-pop records. They’re intelligent, highly creative, emotional, ethereal, and beat driven. They’re great.

John playing with Swahili Blonde - 2011
The last time John Frusciante played live was at the Swahili Blonde debut show. For the curiosity of the fans, does he think or talk about doing a solo tour in the future, or play live with the band again?
Well you never know what will happen in the future, but to my knowledge he has no plans of touring or playing on stage any time soon.

Do you know some Brazilian bands? Have influences from something about Brazil?
Unfortunately I don’t know any Brazilian bands. Can you recommend some?

[Editor's Note: Well, publicly responding to dear Nicole, I have a band to recommend! It's not any classic Brazilian band but a new band from Goiânia/GO that I really like the sound and the proposal of it. The band is called Cambriana and to both you, Nicole, and readers of Universo Frusciante, here is my statement, you can trust that is good! The music video below is from the song "The Sad Facts"]





Do you intend to come to Brazil to do shows? And for pleasure?
I would love to go to Brazil on vacation. It looks so beautiful.

Do you have a message for the Brazilian fans?
Just thank you so much for your interest and support of Neurotic Yell, Swahili Blonde, and your passion for music. I’ve heard from so many folks the passion South Americans (particularly in Brazil) have for music is rival to none. Keep up the great energy! :)


Entrevista realizada por Felipe Marcarini pelo Universo Frusciante - publicada em 09 de junho de 2014.

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