12 Feb 2017

Dean Garcia: An Interview

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Dean Garcia is among the most prescient names the come outta alternative music over the past 25 years. Making his name in the band Curve in the early nineties, real dream-pop pioneers; shoegazing ethereality, with genuinely brilliant experimental dance and hip-hop elements. Since the band's dissolution, he's worked on a number of projects along a similar vane; Headcase, SPC ECO and most recently S T F U, his project with Preston Maddox of Bloody Knives. I spoke to Dean about a number of things, from recent ventures to Mick Jagger's tinfoil windows.

For your latest record, you collaborated with Preston Maddox of Bloody Knives fame. What was he like to work with? How did you meet?
Working with Preston was/is a joy, It might be to do with the fact that' we've never met (insert smile) or we just naturally work really well together. I've been cyber friendly with Preston for many years now, we've recorded a few other songs over the years which is one of the reasons we knew it would work, we're both in the same place as in allowing and respecting what each other do, the rest will just flow. Chemistry as always is the key.

How did the recording process for this differ to anything you'd previously done with Curve or SPC ECO?
The main difference was the input from the get go, Preston sent me solid ideas from the off, well formed and structured both sonically and musically, I would then take the source ideas and do what I do. I think half of the record was like that and the other half I would do the same with Preston, ie send him ideas and let him do what he does and add whatever he wanted before sending it back for me to finish it off. Normally for me (and him I'm sure) the main ideas generally stem from ourselves and we develop them that way right to the end, so this was very much a collaborative two way thing in every sense.

Who'd be your dream collaborator? Like, if you could get anyone to write and record an LP with you, who would it be?
I'd love to work with Brian Eno on a SE record and have Thom Yorke do a couple of guest songs with Rose for the album, I'm pretty sure… No totally convinced it would be a thing of such an immense and emotional beauty it would make everyone who heard it ( including me and Rose) cry...

Are you looking to take What We Want to a live environment?
We would love to take WWW out of the road and play it out loud n full but the logistics of such a thing are doubtful for numerous reasons, but should the tide turn and we catch a wave of offers we can't refuse I think we'd both blow our minds in every way, it would def be a blast for all, I know that for sure.

And are you looking to make more S T F U music after this record?
We've already started mulling ideas but it's just one of those things, when the time is right and the songs/ideas are right we'll set about it and make it happen, I know we want to it's just a matter of time. Once we're zoned in on it it kinda makes itself which is what happened on the WWW record, very little in the thinking dept but plenty in the just fucking do it dept, No how-why-if-what etc just roll with it.

At the moment, there's a lot of hunger for nineties nostalgia, with a particular focus on the shoegaze movement. Would you consider reuniting Curve, and why?
I think it will always be about in some form, I recently made moves with Toni for some live shows to coincide with the retrospective release of the Curve Anxious years that's going to be released this year (2017). We had good people in place and all was looking promising but Toni made clear that it bought back too many unwanted feelings and emotions that she didn't want in her life and decided she no longer wanted to be part of the Curve music loop and just wanted to concentrate on her work outside of the business. It's disappointing but then again on reflection it's a blessing in disguise as I too was having serious anxiety about it, I was relieved in a way, I would and could have done it but in many ways it's a very different ask for Toni, it would have been a blast and the shows loud, fun and cool but sometimes it's best to let things be and concentrate on the now, which is exactly what I'm doing :)

Retrospectively, looking at that period in music, do you think there's a reason that that time period and sound has come back into fashion now?
As said I think it'll always be with us, it has a charm that people rediscover and new bands tap into, it was always an expressive anti pop thing like sound art but with sex, drugs n swag thrown in. It was never concerned with fashion and it never will be, everyone just dig into your pedals and turn them all up to the weird max setting as the billowing smoke and pranging strobe flowers fill the air in a room full of people you probably love. (insert drone string voice sound that makes your eyes go funny )

Of all the shoegaze and dream-pop bands of that period, Curve to me were sound like one of the most eager to experiment with other styles of music. What music were you listening to around the time of your first couple of albums?
JAMC - Happy Mondays - Primals - Prods - Chems - Orb - Spritulized - MBV - Johnny Cash - Massive - Sonic Youth - Nirvana - James Brown - Pink Floyd - Young Marble Giants - Cocteaus - Underworld - and stuff...

Do you feel like the inception What We Want was founded on a similar kinda forward ethos? 
I think it was founded by two people who love and respect what the other does, with no set ideas or ethos anywhere to be seen or talked of, we just let it happen philosophically void and regardless, plus and this is telling, we used every track we made until we had enough for an album. I don't think ether one of us are interested in anything other than that, a genuine open book and flurry from start to finish.

If you could only listen to 10 records for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Er…right now off the top of my head, a lot of our SE records which is very rare for anyone who makes music and albums, most just want to burn them or certainly never hear them ever again, it's very different for me when it comes to SE, it's to do with the combination of Rose and myself doing what we do in a way that is without ego, it personifies and captures the best of both of us. What else ? A few early Radiohead songs, Some James Brown and let's not forget about S T F U, which is as you know always worth a dip into…

What, in your career so far, are you most proud of?
Proud is an odd one, they're are moments in time when you feel that you're on the top of your game, break through artistic achievements, people taking notice, records coming out and doing well all over the place, prancing on the cat walk in front of 25k people at the age of 25 with Dave and Annie either side while you show off how fucking awesome you are at playing the bass, with everyone loving it. There's hanging with Jagger in Barbados, as he tells you why he puts silver foil on the windows to his room, or getting told off for swearing by the cabin crew while Ian Dury and I were sharing a bottle of vod on the way to Japan. Meeting Derek Jarmen. Having 'single of the week' in Melody Maker and NME with Curve, Jamming with Jeff Beck as he plays you the guitar parts that made you want to be a musician, being with Sinead when she refused to go on if they played the USA national anthem, playing at an anti Pinochet tour of Chilli; I could go on but I'd get sued, what happens on the bus stays on the bus. The best feeling or defining moment for me without any doubt is becoming a father to Rose and Harry, nothing will ever top that….

Finally, what's next for you and your music projects?
Stuff n things n things n stuff and let's not forget that SE album with Eno and Thom…

Thanks so much for your time!
Thank you for your questions, it's been real…

Hear the S T F U collab record below...

And his latest SPC ECO record...

(Words: Cal Cashin)