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Messages - mgriffin

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1

Disc 2 (Trk 16)
"Las Siete Poderes Africanos"

AP: "The Seven African Powers."  What's that supposed to mean?  This is
another vintage track you and I did back in Frazier Park in '93.  You
even got to show off on a acoustic guitar program I had at the time,
playing parts that physically couldn't be played in the real world
unless they were overdubbed.  What do you think, has the piece held up?


RG: I saw this title on a candle I bought at the grocery store.  The
candles that show different saints!  I later pulled out the old piece,
remixed it, and matched it to the title.  Your rhythm had this Santana
quality to it that fit perfectly with the title.


AP:  So, what are your future plans at this point--future projects?  At one
point, you were going to use the Bone pieces for your next album, and
leading it off with "From the Bottom of the Sea."  Is that still a possibility?


RG: "From The Bottom OF the Sea" will be on my next CD.  I'm also
working on electro-Italian style pieces where I am using my Melodica.
Imagine Kraftwerk, Budd, and Piazzola.  Other styles will include Glass,
Klaus Shulze, Satie, Fripp & Eno, all done Garcia style of course!  I'm
not sure what's happening with Richard's pieces.  Maybe he'll release
it, maybe I will.






*** INTERVIEW ENDS ***

2

Disc 2 (Trk 15)
"From the Bottom of the Sea"

AP: Very nice percussion track--do you recall how you treated it?  Sounds
very Enoesque, like that first track on "Hybrid" with Michael Brooks.
Great groove, but you can't really tell what it is--electronic, acoustic, or both. 
You switched to an organ sound that fades in an out
over the piece.  Do you like using organs much?  Any significance to
the title?  All these tracks were done when you were living in New
Mexico, right?


RG: Lots of treatments on this entire piece.  It's a dedication to my
Uncle Julio who wanted to come back as a dolphin.  It wasn't
really an organ sound but maybe a combination of synth and organ.  The
melody definitely had to be way out there, as Harold would say. 
"Ghost like Melodies" and any possible ocean sounds  I could  find
which I treated, reversed, and sometimes, more reverb on the reverb!

3

Disc 2 (Trk 14)
La Mesa Terminada"

AP: Another track with Bone--did he give you these two tracks to add to at
the same time, or did this one come later?  What does the title mean
for you?  You've given several pieces on your albums Spanish
titles--any particular reason?  Again, what did Bone provide and what
did you add, besides keyboards and a bass line?


RG:  Richard does everything live. Nothing can be separated which is fine
by me.  He later asked me, how were you able to play
that intro so perfectly?  I told him that I had to count and pray that
I would hit it in two or three takes.  Luckily, I got it on the first
take.  A real one hitter.  "La Mesa Terminada" means "The Finished
Table".  It could have more than one meaning which is
what I like about the title.  I also like the way it flows.

4

Disc 2 (Trk 13)
”Pantoum”

AP: When did you start your association with Richard Bone--how did
that evolve?  What did Richard provide you with for this track? 
Besides keyboards (and a bass line?), what else did you add to this
one?  Again, that classic space-Rhodes keyboard sound....


RG: I had just finished unpacking the last box when I believe Richard
called me. We agreed to start working together.  He sent me the grooves
and I did the rest.  It took forever to come up with a piano melody, but
once I found it I couldn't stop it.  Again, this is acoustic piano midi’ed to
two other acoustic piano patches from my synth's.
The piano deserved the biggest, grand sound possible.

5

Disc 2 (Trk# 8  )
"Lucina"


AP: This is somewhat of an unreleased orphan track which I recall you playing me
back in Frazier Park which originally had a working title of "Big Room
Solo."  Scott told me when you used to come down to record at his
studio, you would always say "give me the big room."  Any memories of
this solo piece in particular?


RG: Not one of my favorite pieces.  Too heavy-handed, and too loud.  The
melody is very nice though.  What this piece needs is pure reverb and no
live piano sound.  More big room please!

6

Disc 2 (Trks 5, 6, 7)
“Five Dreams From Yesterday"
"Two Finger Music"
"Eyes Wander"

AP: “Five Dreams” is a great track off "Lakeland," combining many
elements that worked well in your previous work.  Even the title
sort of recalls a time reference, a vague "Maybe Forgotten Forever" quality.
The beginning drone, the dirge groove--classic Garcia signature stuff.
What brought this one on?  Again, it's got that classic Rhodes EP
sound--with lots of cool backwards sounds in the background (real
backwards tape stuff or from a rackmount?).  A big production track?


RG: There's lots of stacked synth's on this piece.  I then ran the drum
machine through the vocoder and then noticed the vocoder humming it's
own melody.  This helped me create a melody that worked very well. Again,
the piano was midi’ed to the Rhodes.  Those backward sounds that you hear
a series of piano chords recorded on reel to reel and then played
backwards.  I had to use my imagination so the backward chords would
play exactly where I wanted them to.




AP:  "Two Finger Music"--piano solo, big room sound, pretty short track
for you--but somehow it seems complete.  Lots of delays and reverb.  Do
you put delay on before reverb or after?  It always seems to be coming
from another room, or another world....


RG: Sometimes, I'll put just the reverb on two separate tracks so
I can later make a choice of what I want to do. This piece
was composed with my two index fingers. I had some kids recording in
my studio once and I wanted to show them you
don't really have to be a genius or practice for a million hours to
create beautiful music. After shooting my mouth off I then
had to face the music. I showed them my two index fingers and
started to play. The title was obvious. "Two Finger Music."


AP: "Eyes Wander."  Sounds like a Harold title.  Same kind of solo
piano vibe as the last track--big room sound with treatments.  I really
like how you bring in the EP sound at the end--was it in there all
along, and you just added it in at the end, or did you specifically do
that part separately?  It's a great ending to a very lonely track, and
it changes the tone of the piece to even more melancholy, even though
the acoustic piano is still in there somewhere.


RG:  I've never been married, but like most men, their eyes wander at
the mall.  I know mine do, but if you’re with your wife expect to get slapped
when your eyes wander!  I had to cut the beginning because it
was so terrible. The reverb started the piece off and I slowly brought
 the live piano in to a comfortable listening level.


AP:  What's the story with "Lakeland"?  You once had a cassette of
Repetition Repetition called "Lakeland."  What made you want to
revive the title?  You told me once the cover picture was a gift from
some of your Navajo friends in New Mexico....


RG: During one of many fishing trips with my Navajo friends here in
Flag there was one particular lake where you had to be Native American
to go to. The fish were jumping right in front of us but we couldn't
even catch a cold that day.  Twelve hours later after being eaten alive by
mosquitoes and gnats, the lake turned magical.  I took several shots of
the lake and you'll notice the trees on the back cover which is my back
yard. I superimposed the trees and clouds at a later date. The title
was easy since "Lakeland" was only a cassette and the music had already
been recorded. All I had to do is match the two.

7

Disc 2 (Trks 1, 6, 8)
"I Can Feel The Heat Closing In"
"Drifting Into Solitude"
"90 Degrees at 7 A.M."

AP:  You were living in Joshua Tree at the time you started this
project.  What was that like, working on this project there? 
Obviously, the heat was a big factor in creating some of the tracks.…


RG:  Living in Joshua Tree was very difficult.  122 degrees in the shade.  I
only had a swamp cooler, no air conditioner.  Both projects, “Easels” and
“Heat” were started there but later finished in Flagstaff.  There
was no title for “Heat.”  I left for AZ towards the end of June.  My last
morning there, the U Haul was packed and ready to go.  I woke up early
and hit the road around 4 A.M., and that’s when I noticed the sun coming up!   
I took my last photograph of Joshua Tree which later not only became
the front cover, but the title followed soon after.  I was desperate to
get out of there. Around 7 A.M., it started to get hot! Very hot! 
That's when I wrote the title down while I was driving. 
90 degrees at 7 A.M."  I later matched the title with the music
which I  composed in Flagstaff AZ.  Things were cooler, and I was calmer.


AP:  You've used the Rhodes keyboard sound as well as the acoustic piano
sound a lot over the years--and have made it your sound.  When you're
working on a piece, what, if anything, makes you think in terms of
using one keyboard sound over the other, or combining the two as you've done on
several tracks....


RG:  Yes, I went back to my Harold/Garcia sound.  Stacking the midi acoustic
with the Rhodes which I installed in my piano in Flag.  It
was a new sound for me that no one has done and I’m still fine-tuning it to
this day.  I've always done synth stacking but never with my acoustic,
because it was never MIDI’ed.

8

Disc 1 (Trks 8, 9)
"Room Full of Easels"
"Paperback Sex"

AP:  Did you have a concept for the album after "Gatekeeper" to get
back into more rhythmic/electronic stuff, or just to do a blending of
all your various styles--ambient, electronic, piano, etc.


RG:  Exactly that.  A combination of different musical styles which I love
so much, and the piano will always make its way in there somewhere.
Like Stephen Hill said in one of his shows, “the piano is always queen."


AP: Where did the title "Paperback Sex" come from?  This is the first
time you worked with Jeff Pearce.  There were some nice backwards
guitar manipulations on that one that you told me you actually dubbed
to reel-to-reel and flipped the tape over, and got lucky.  Nice strong
rhythmic track with heavy bass line, too.


RG: When you go to a book store, or Walgreens, Walmart, supermarket etc.,
you'll always see a rack or two loaded with paperbacks intended to lure
in potential female buyers, and usually it has to do with sex!  Who's
doing who!  Who's naughty or nice, etc, etc.  I promised myself I would
compose something someday with the title "Paperback Sex".  So there you
have it!


AP:  Talk a little about the cover of the album and how all that came
together....


RG:  In the late 80's, I did a concert at USC Irvine. It was for an art
show opening . As I was rolling in my arsenal of equipment down the
hallway, the art gallery caught my eye.  This must be the place!


Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, "you’re not performing
here.  You belong at the room across the hallway.”  It was a huge
room full of easels!  I had to move all the easels in
order to set up and perform.  I didn't realize that a picture of all those
easels would have been a great cover.  Later down the road after I
moved to Arizona, Daniel Lentz helped me get permission to take some
pictures at the ASU art class which was filled with these huge easels
and different artwork from the students.  This was perfect, and I never
forgot that title. It was always in the back of my mind.  Someday, I
said.  Someday.


The title was the inspiration for the whole project. In fact, I loved
the title so much that the music just rolled off my fingers.


9

Disc 1 (Trk 7)
"I Looked Back & Danced With The Eyes of Malena"
Disc 2 (Trks 9-12)
"Light Stares From Caverns"
"The Painter's Dream"
"White Frost in August"
"The Gatekeeper"


AP:  The album that came after "Colors" was a big departure.  Going
from a heavy synth environment to a solo piano project was a big step. 
And an improv album at that.  What made you want to do "The Gatekeeper"
project?  Did you truly go into the studio with no idea what you were going
to play, or had you worked out some ideas in advance?


RG: When I did “Colors in Motion,” I wanted every song to sound different
from the last. I also wanted to let the world know that I am a
pianist.  Years before “Colors,” someone told me once, "Ruben, you’re a
minimalist composer."  I then asked what the hell is that?  She introduced
me to the music of Eric Satie, and then it all made sense.  I wanted
to record my own Gymnopedies.  I didn't have a piano. How am I going to
pull this off?  Think Ruben, think!  Well, that didn't work.
So I booked two days at Scott Fraser's studio and went at it again.


There's a great story about Tito Puentes recording an all percussion CD. 
Nobody thought it was a good idea.  He took 18 percussionists and put
them in a circle.  In the middle of the room was a table with some bottles of
Puerto Rican rum.  They went at it all night and finished the recording in
one night.


Same idea with "The Gatekeeper."  Take all the percussionists out of
the room, remove all the percussion instruments, bring in the grand piano,
and leave the rum!  Nobody knew I had a half pint of rum in my back pocket. 
Scott asked me, “Ruben, do you know what you’re going to be doing today so I
can get a sound check?”  “No Scott. I'll be hearing these pieces for the first time
like you will be!”  “Are you ready, Scotty?”  I took a swig of hooch and played,
and played, and played, and played.  So many things going through my mind. 
Almost in tears.  Pouring my heart and soul out to the world.  Happy thoughts,
sad thoughts, and watching my fingers play these beautiful SAD, HAPPY
piano improvisations.  Finished in two days.  I said to myself, "THATS IT BABY,
 WERE DONE."  Next?


AP:  "Malena" was sort of a strange way to end a solo piano album.  It
almost sounded like something left off "Colors" with the sequence
running underneath.  It fits, though.  Why did you want to end the
album by re-introducing the electronic rhythmic element?


RG: I didn't want anyone to think that I gave up on electronic music, so
this was a combination of both.

10

Disc 1 (Trk 6)
"Rainy Day"

AP: How did yours and Harold Budd's paths happen to cross
originally?  Was it through DJ Brent Wilcox who was playing Repetition
tapes on his radio show on KCRW back in the mid '80s?  Did he know
Harold, and pass one of your tapes on to him?  When and how did you and
Harold first speak/meet?  I recall him coming down to a couple of the
original Repetition live shows.  In '92, on his album "By the Dawn's
Early Light," he dedicated a track to you, "Down The Slopes to the
Meadow (for Ruben Garcia)."  Any background info on that?  What's been
your relationship with Harold over the years, and what's it like today?


RG: As I was listening to a Brent show one evening, Harold was a guest on
his show.  I called the radio station and pleaded with them to let me
talk to Harold.  They said to me, "No you cannot."  I later found out
through Brent that he was trying to contact me at the same time.  "So,
there it is!  "BOB'S YOUR UNCLE!"  We made good friends, and the rest is history!


AP:  What's the story behind "Rainy Day"?  How did Harold get involved?


RG: Harold Budd was very serious about producing Repetition, Repetition.
It was all in vain because all the record companies never gave him or
myself the respect that we deserved.  To this day, I could care less
what the record companies do with their decisions in life.  I booked the
session in Whittier, of all places, unfortunately the engineer
was an idiot.  He fell asleep during my improvisation of “Rainy
Day.”


If it wasn't for Steve Caton being late, “Rainy Day” would have never
been recorded. We set up the mikes and I went at it. I didn't know what
Harold was up to. He pushed the reverb as far as it would go and took
the live piano completely out so you only heard the piano reverb. It was
beautiful.


AP:  I recall you playing me this track in late '85, but it wasn't
officially released till '96 on "Room Full of Easels."  Eleven years
later!   In a way, it was your first solo piano track, pre-"Gatekeeper."

11

Disc 1  "Colors in Motion" (Trk 3)
            "Desert Calm" (Trk 4)
            "Africa From the Air” (Trk 5)

AP:  What were the origins of "Colors in Motion," both the album and the
piece?   "CIM" and the other two tracks that were taken from that album
for this project were very synth-based although you were finding your
piano/keyboard sound as well on that first one.  I really like how the
track fades in from almost nothingness and starts to grow upon layers
and layers.


RG:  The whole CD “Colors In Motion” was done on a 4 Track Tascam cassette
recorder.  I never like to bounce tracks so I had to do everything live.
Of course during the mix I would play two or more keyboards and usually
get it right the first time.  The actual piece “Colors in Motion” was
improvised live in front of some friends that begged me to play
something for them.  Luckily I recorded this piece straight to DAT.  I
loved the piece so much that it became the focus of that CD. 
Now I needed a cover for the CD! I went to the nearest art store, bought
my first acrylic paints and brushes and went at it. It took a month or
so. I then named the painting, Colors in Motion, and the piece I loved
so much was matched to the title at a later time. Being that this was my
very first CD, every song had to sound different from the last. I had a
reviewer say once "Here's a guy that can't make up his mind.”  What was
intended to be an insult, turned out to be a compliment.


Talk about your gear/recording set-up you had in those years and how
you made it work for you.  (I still remember the note on the
refrigerator in the Canoga Park guest house that said something like
"remember to unplug frig"), because of ground loops, I suppose.
As for gear, you had the Kawai piano, a OBX-a, the Four Voice, a DSX
drum machine and a and SQX sequencer, a Sequential Circuits Pro One,
and of course, the working man's friend, the TEAC 4-trk cassette
recorder, and a 2-trk reel to reel machine as well for this.  And then
just inexpensive Midiverbs.  Am I leaving anything out?


RG:  Oberheim OBXA synth, DSX sequencer, DMX drum machine, Tascam 4 trk
cassette, Pro 1, Oberheim Four voice, A KAWAI upright, Korg Vocoder,
Technics 2 trk reel to reel, and the famous Roland 808 drum machine was
the main part of the studio.  Gear would come in as the paychecks would
allow.


I'll never forget the ghettos of Canoga Park. The Ambulance would pick
up dead bodies in front of my house on the weekends soon after I heard
the bullet shots.


AP:  How did all  of this work togther for you at the time?  I recall
sometimes you play a final part live to the mix since having enough
tracks were of premium concern in those days.


You used Steve Caton on "Africa" though you'd done quite a bit of work
together beforehand.  Any reason you wanted that one or him on the album?


RG:  In my mind, Steve Caton was and still is the best guitar player I've
heard in a long time.  It was hard to get him to do anything, so
whatever I was able to do with him I did my best to release it.

12

Disc 1 (Trk 2)
"Maybe Forgotten Forever"

AP: I recall hearing this piece before we did "Clear Pools" and being
impressed with the beauty and simplicity of it--it's less than four
minutes, but it's got a beautiful melody and setting.  The water which
comes in half way through, I thought, was a nice touch.  In fact, I
thought that would sound good on "Clear Pools" too, but the idea
originated with this piece.  What do you recall, if anything, about
it?  Where did the title come from?  How do you feel about this piece
today, despite its recording limitations?


RG: The title was simple. I never planned on releasing this piece, so
just to remind myself of what it was I gave it a quick name. "Maybe
Forgotten Forever".  Apparently it wouldn't go away.
Everything was done live.  Trying to play the piece and mix the
Casio's water program at the same time with my feet.  I used to do a lot
of that.  More playing during the mix.  Holding pencils with my mouth to
push buttons while I'm playing keyboards and doing who knows what with
my feet.  That's what you do when you only have two tracks to record on.

13
The interview is formatted so that each track or set of tracks is discussed by A Produce and Ruben, so I'll post each block of text that follows each recording referenced.


*****



Disc 1 (Trk 1)
"Congas Meet the Droner"


AP:  I remember you playing me this piece before you were working on
"Colors In Motion" back in 1991.  You told me at the time that you did
it fast and quick while you were waiting for your mom to go to a
Christmas party.  I was still pretty impressed--for me, it was Hassell
meets Budd.  On the back cover of "Colors," instead of a picture of you
playing keyboards, you chose one with you playing congas.  I thought
that was pretty interesting.  What are your memories of this piece? 
Why didn't you want to put it out sooner, or at all?  Do you think it
still holds up today?  I sure do.


RG:  Fast and quick. A one hitter.
I didn't think my congero performance was that great and the sound
The quality was missing something.  Of course, I have better equipment now so
I remixed it for you the best I could.  This is a conga style I learned
in Cuba called BEMBE.  I'm still not that crazy about the piece but if
others like it, that works for me.

14
A while back Bert Strolenberg provided me with this lengthy interview of Ruben Garcia conducted by his friend and collaborator A Produce (the late Barry Craig).

Many thanks to Bert for sending me this text. I hope others will find it of interest. It reminds me of my early friendship with Barry, discussing our influences and enthusiasms.

I'll post it in several parts, starting with the image of Ruben in his studio that was inserted at the top of the interview document.



15
Everything and Nothing / Re: Forum software upgrade coming up
« on: March 27, 2015, 02:53:42 PM »
Ah, I see.


That's a good reason to have an attractive, practical theme as the default. Something I didn't think about, because I'm logged-in 100% of the time when I'm using the forum.

16
Everything and Nothing / Re: Forum software upgrade coming up
« on: March 27, 2015, 12:31:25 PM »
Pete, I wasn't sure what you meant. The front page of the forum looks different depending on which theme you're using.

17
Everything and Nothing / Re: Forum software upgrade coming up
« on: March 25, 2015, 04:31:15 PM »
Deleting cookies didn't help, but switching my 'post message" default view to WYSIWYG fixed it.

18
Everything and Nothing / Re: Forum software upgrade coming up
« on: March 25, 2015, 02:45:35 PM »
I switched back to Decal and it's still doing it. Still haven't deleted cookies but will try that next.

19
Everything and Nothing / Re: Forum software upgrade coming up
« on: March 25, 2015, 02:00:24 PM »
Is anybody else experiencing a glitch in which the message compose window is too wide, and extends off the right side of the screen?

I'm experiencing this since the upgrade, but it doesn't happen on all browsers. On this PC, it happens with Firefox but not Chrome, and on my main work PC, it happens the other way around - with Chrome but not Firefox!

It also doesn't seem to matter which theme I use, so it's not a glitch in a single theme. I may need to delete cookies or something.

20
Everything and Nothing / Re: Forum software upgrade coming up
« on: March 24, 2015, 09:08:59 AM »
The Vertex seems popular enough, I'll have to get rid of the "Vertex" logo in the corner and create something Hypnos-ish to replace it.

Thanks to all for the input on which themes you're enjoying, and not enjoying.

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