‘Long Live the Collective Alternative Consciousness’: An Interview with Curve legend DEAN GARCIA (SPC ECO, Inkraktare, STFU, etc)

WL//WH Interview Dean Garcia

He is one of the living legends of the wider alternative music wing. Dean Garcia from the iconic 90s alternative rock/ shoegaze outfit Curve (Doppelgänger LP 1992), and the electronic dream-pop/ shoegaze band SPC ECO. The man who is also involved in a number of other edgy and pretty advanced outfits like KGC, STFU, Blurred City Lights, Inkraktare, Das Bleep, MAD, and more. A musician who has toured the world several times and recorded multiple albums with such established artists as The Eurythmics, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Bryan Ferry, Sinead O’Connor, and Ian Dury. A real music machine, Mr Garcia, never rest as an artist and proof of that are the numerous records he was involved in all through his course from the mid-80s until now. Was it luck, Karma, the right time, his undoubted skills? All of these and more? He saw his name in the top spots with the most influential musicians ever in rock music generally. And think of this; It was Curve, Ride, Slowdive, and Telescopes who gave us the sounding of ‘shoegaze rock music’. The sonic definition of ‘shoegaze’ has his own permanent ink. Listen why, and let’s go the interview after that!

  • Hello Mr Garcia. Almost ten years have passed since Inkraktare’s previous album but, in December 2019, we saw the release of the new LP ‘We Are Not Really Here’. Once again you worked closely with Mark Wallbridge on the songwriting, performance, and production of the record. What caused such a huge hiatus in new musical output as Inkraktare and what led you to work together again?
The inkräktare project is very much a project with no plan of action, we simply collaborate and work on it when the mood takes us which (time-wise) appears to be very spontaneous and random. This particular batch of recording was made over a few months of on and off sessions. We’re both very open-minded re the outcome and structure of how things come together with inkräktare, we have no preconceived ideas other than the will to record and to combine the musical elements in an experimental and outside the box type of way, a what will be will be a stance. That way we’re both surprised by its form and outcome. Inkräktare is all about spontaneity in all aspects of the making of. We like it that way.
  • Rose Berlin and Preston Maddox also appear in the album. What was the artistic “agreement” for that?
The artistic agreement was simply a will to be involved on both Rose and Preston’s part, they, like everyone I work with are unbounded by any rules or restrictions when it comes to collaboration, it doesn’t seem to matter what it’s for it’s all about is it any good? Rose and Preston are both immensely talented, we’re just grateful and very pleased that they’ve participated with us on this record. I know they both feel the same.
  • Is the outfit Inkraktare a collective work generally or is it Garcia with Wallbridge who pull the strings?
Mark and I are the main characters in the inkräktare play, the only strings we seem to pull are those of the guitars and bass. Essentially we’re a duo of guitar and bass with access to a technology that has no filter. We both embrace the idea of disturbance and distortion with technology, to push it in uncomfortable and uncertain ways with an intention to give it a sentient quantity that has an albeit disturbed yet defined heart n soul.
  • Are you also performing on stage as a band or is it all a studio project mostly?
Studio, although we’d both love to be able to give it the Pink Floyd v NIN live show treatment that would work oh so perfectly. For now, we’re content with it as is.

  • So what should we expect to experience in your live shows? Any special visual treatment maybe? Any peculiar sonic approach to the music? Can you give us any dates, please?
See above, if there were to be any live shows I would be as surprised and up for it as you, but it’s the very peculiar world of touring that only works if the public is behind you if you’re an almost entirely unknown band which we are this is simply not doable. If that changes we’ll let you know.
  • You worked in two studios for this album. Can you tell us why and how you chose ElAb, and V Pig Studios?
Both are home studios, we both like many recordists have a more personal means to make noise. I rarely (never) enjoy being in a studio that is unfamiliar in fact it’s the kiss of death to me, I’ve never enjoyed them as creative spaces, I like the pool tables n being able to ramp the volume but I always prefer the more private and insular atmosphere of a home studio.
  • Inkraktare notes that the album is “ dedicated to the collective consciousness”. Can you tell us please a few things about that?
As I understand it the collective conscience is the all-seeing/knowing force that guides us all. From the concept of the thought that we are not really here, it’s all a collective conscious (not to be confused with the concept of God) that gives the appearance of everything being real in fact it’s just a combined figment of everything’s imagination. As said it’s a concept of challenging realism that has been around for some time now. I have no idea what it is but I am curious, I wrote a fake synopsis of it in the inkräktare sleeve notes, it’s meant to be funny and flippant not serious in any way but it does touch on the mind-bending concepts of what is real. I know, it’s mad but I’m of the opinion that making music is somewhat insane, insanity is also just a concept isn’t it? I’ll stop there, it’s for the best. I’ll send you the sleeve notes for the record to peruse at your leisure if you wish.
  • You are the owner and the operator of ELab records. What is the aesthetic criterion of your choices to release a record via the label?
Is it any good? Does it move you in some way? Is it loud enough? Is it sad enough? Would you like it if it aired on the radio? Does it have a phat beat? Is the bass loud enough? Does it make you want to play live? Would it sound good in a smoke fuelled room full of people who like art? If yes to all that’d work for me.

  • Mr Garcia, you are in the pitch for almost 40 years as a session musician and as a member of some of the most significant bands like Curve and SPC ECO. I’d like to ask first about the good things you took from your collaborations with Eurythmics, Sinead O’Connor, and Tom Petty. What did Dean Garcia keep from that era?
The great infatuation and connection with like-minded people is the always the main feeling I get, every one of the artists and collaborators you mention (and haven’t mentioned) are all very dear to me, none more so than others, they’re all linked together in a way that has collectively and consciously informed and guided me to this day, I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is I have taken from them all I just know it’s all for many reasons that are all unexplainable, the objective is to discover and explore artistically is all I have ever known.
  • And then came Curve. After all these years do you think that Curve was an “instinctive” band or was the reaction to the wider indie-alternative rock scene?
In all honesty, I’m not sure what it was or is, Toni Halliday and I wanted to make records and be as good as we could is all I know, as with everything they all have a different trajectory, It’s always very particular and personal as to what Curve means and how it affects people as it’s always very different from one person to the next, I feel we made a noise that reflected what was happening at that time, the alternative youth culture of the day, we slotted in with it all, again linked consciously and conceptually with bands like MBV JAMC and also tied in with The Prods, Chemicals and Aphex Twin, the Rave culture crossover that Primal Scream n Roses/ Mondays tapped into, Curve were part of it all, a rollercoaster of alternative thought and feels that transcend explanations, it just was and still is a collective expression of the great like-minded.

  • Curve are fairly considered among the Europen pioneers of shoegaze. Do you accept the title?
I accept any title good or bad for whatever it is, it was an era that explored the sound of noise, everyone n all of those involved were part of the same thing. To collectively lift and enhance each other in a great, all-seeing n reaching group and very human sound hug. A party of ethereal noise that connects us all together and continues on to this day and the next to do so regardless of what genre era etc involved.
  • Curve, Ride, Slowdive, the noises from The Jesus and Mary Chain, and even The Telescopes shaped the whole European shoegaze stream. What is your point of view on these bands?
I love them all and celebrate our connection to each other, long live the collective alternative consciousness.
  • Can you remember for us your gear when you were playing with Curve?
My gear was an Ampeg top n 8/10 cab bass rig, two Alesis sequencers named Fuck n Cunt respectively that we’re driving two stuffed to the gills Akai S1100 samplers, a mini Moog n Roland one u unit for extra bleeps, a 70s Black Stingray bass (bought by Jules in the 70s) that I still use, a kind of one-man-band set up that has since been whittled down to an iPod for any SPC ECO shows we’ve done.
 
  • How do you feel about the current shoegazers of the world?
I love them all, I don’t know much about them or who they are, that’s not important, I’m just glad they’re there doing what they do, it’s all part of the ongoing cause and effect. Keep at it is all I can say knowing full well and without any doubt that they will.
  • After some years you launched SPC ECO with Rose Berlin. What is SPC ECO to you and what is for Rose?
Well, it’s everything to us both, it’s like an old and very dear friend, it’s family, it works in mysterious ways, it has a hold on us, it allows us to progress and move artistically, it’s exploration discovery and ability as well as all that I can’t recall or don’t know about. I think we’ll always record new things as long as we’re able to. Once we’re done the idea or feeling is we would have passed it on to others who in their own way will do the same.
 
  • STFU, Blurred City Lights, KGC, are only but a few names you work with. Maybe, the musician can never stop creating music in the head, maybe the musician can never rest, right? What are all these amazing outfits?
They are all part of the same thing, the collective yet individual outlet of tuneful noise. We’re all in it together, every one of those mentioned also has other feelers out elsewhere that are also linked to each other, it just goes on and on. We’re (they’re) all joined by the will to do it, because we like it, hardwired almost, we can, we like, we will and we do.

  • And you also produce and release records as a solo artist too! From 2011’s ‘How Do You Feel’ LP to 2018’s ‘Das Bleep – You Are The Sun’ EP, which are your favorite Dean Garcia solo records and why, please?
I think I like ‘Das Bleep’ the most as it allows me to explore the bass n sub drum minimalist sonic that is very sensual to me, a basic level human mode that explores basic feels, not to do with songs as such more to do with ground-level instinctive moods. As said it’s back to basics, human requirements (for me anyway).
 
  • And which one is the next album by Dean Garcia as solo, or with another team?
Next release is from SPC ECO, we’re doing a release on the first of the month for every month in 2020, we’re titling them by the month released, we’ve recorded and released 3 so far, the next is due on April 1st. on the SPC ECO Bandcamp page. It’s a challenge for us that we’re OCD enough to complete, it also allows us to be completely out there if we choose to be which is always a good thing.
  • Mr Garcia thank you very much for your time! Last words on you!
Thank you for the questions and support, it’s been real (or has it? Lol). All the best from Dean and the all-seeing collective consciousness xx
 
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