Curve’s Dean Garcia Talks S T F U Album ‘What We Want’: alt-rock pioneer discusses new project with Bloody Knives’ Preston Maddox in our exclusive interview.
One of the most welcome musical surprises of 2016, What We Want is the stellar début album from S T F U, featuring vocalist Preston Maddox (Bloody Knives) and multi-instrumentalist Dean Garcia.
I recently had a chance to speak to Garcia about the new S T F U album and how the collaboration with Maddox came about, as well as his future plans for SPC ECO, potential for new Curve music and much more. Enjoy the full interview below.
SLIS: First off, tell me about how the project originated: were you familiar with Preston’s work in Bloody Knives? How did the collaboration start?
DG: Preston introduced himself to me by way of a request for a Bloody Knives remix, we moved from there to him guesting on a SPC ECO song with Rose and also we worked on a few other one-off songs which I used on the Das Haus project I was compiling at the time. I hadn’t heard of The Bloody Knives before he contacted but obviously I checked them and really like the band. A collaboration was always on the cards, it was just a matter of the right time.
I contacted him out of the blue quite recently via FB, he came back quickly and we set about sending things to each other. I think he had a bunch of stuff already floating about as did I so we just rolled with it, the record was recorded very quickly with no fuss or stress, we had most of it in a few months, sat on it for a bit added a few more where we thought it lacked and that was more or less it.
The plan was to live with it while Preston went out on tour and revisit it for remix or adds after a month or so. After several listens to the original recordings and mixes we mutually decided it was done, no need to re touch it and that was that. The record had a way of making itself, full of great source elements that just worked together. I always felt that it would be that way between us, we just lock in and get on with it. Neither of us are precious about anything and give each other the space to explore whatever we want. A good chemistry.
SLIS: I really love ‘What We Want’: it’s so densely layered and moody. What was the creative process like this time around?
Thank you, the creative process was natural and connected, I think you have to have that common ground when you start something up like this, mutual respect for those involved, you learn half way through making an album how people are and how they function re creative attitudes, ebb and flow and the like, Preston is a very open and chilled person who wants everyone to do their thing, he understands that’s the way you get the best out of people. It’s very infectious and refreshing, it makes you relax and really delve into the songs. The creative aspect was in full flow for both of us on this record, you can hear and feel it.
SLIS: Preston has described the album in cinematic terms, saying the title track feels like a dystopian future. Are you ever inspired by film while making an album, and do you also see it in visual as well as musical terms?
DG; I tend to approach music as a soundtrack to a non-existent film, I don’t really see the visual aspect of it while making it as I tend to get lost in the sound waves, I know it does conjure visuals and people have often said that the music I’m involved with is very cinematic, I think all good music has a reach and depth that can be enhanced visually but there’s something about music on its own and the different effect it has on people, it’s like nothing else. I would like to work on a cool film score though, I’ve never done that before.
SLIS: There’s definitely a blending of genres on songs like the title track and 1000 Cuts. I hear elements of Trip-hop, ambient and even some Gothic overtones. Did you have a definite musical direction planned from the beginning or did it evolve organically?
DG: No plans as such, it stems from who we are and what we like, obviously we both have a very broad wide sweeping radar of music we like, you can hear it, I think the key factor was to explore with no holds barred, it’s a true collaboration without any compromise, it’s rare you get that with people. As far as genre goes whatever you hear within the music is relevant, be it any of the things you observed above, they’re all in there and some, it’s up to the listener to decide what it is, we like that.
SLIS: I have to ask where the band name comes from? STFU is such an aggressive sounding acronym, and the album is so understated and stoic. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.
It was playful to us, after name swapping a bunch of so so ideas and names, it became clear to me that it had to be flippant, I just saw it on a cool tumblr page and thought that looks cool, I sent it to Preston and we decided to go with it. It’s tongue in cheek, throwaway and sweary, not serious and has a humour to it. Plus it would look good on a T Shirt.
SLIS: Between STFU, SPC ECO and Curve, you’ve always found new ways to express yourself by combining electronic music with rock dynamics. What initially drew you to that sound, and why do you think you continually gravitate towards that fusion?
DG: I’ll always combine the beat element to anything I do, if it doesn’t have the lilt and roll I can’t deal with it, it has to have a funk to it, my inspirations are very much within James Brown, Bootsy Collins, Funkadelic and Parliament school.
Hit the beat as a base then combine that with the swirl of MBV, the kick of JAMC and the artistic expression of Pink Floyd you’ll always be on the right track in my book. I like to genre bend, to take from here n there, I’ve always done that so I can’t see that stopping or changing anytime soon…
SLIS: Speaking of SPC ECO and Curve, do you have any plans with new material with either?
DG: SPC ECO have a new album release on the 12th of August this year called Anomalies, I think it’s the 3rd album we’ve released this year, Rose and I record all the time so we just accumulate stuff. As far as Curve goes, never say never I always say, if it comes about and we’re both up for it then we’ll sort it, I’ve spoken with Toni more this year and we have discussed it as we always do, just have to see how things unfold is all really. I do miss recording with Toni, so you never know…
SLIS: Any plans to do any live dates for your new album?
DG: Would love to play the STFU record out n loud but as always you have to have the demand to take it out. We’ve both said that if the record does well and we get a good bite on it we’d jump on a tour bus. It would be fun to take this out and blast it across the land, I can hear it now.
SLIS: I always felt Curve was a sorely underrated band, and that you predated so many groups with your mix of electronica and shoegaze guitars. Do you see yourself as a musical pioneer, and deserve more credit for blending those genres?
DG: I’ve always thought we did well with Curve but never realised the full potential of it, which on reflection is probably a good thing as I’d undoubtedly be either dead or muttering to myself from a special hospital, I think we gave a few things out to people here n there in the same way as others did to us, it’s all swings and roundabouts in the end. The Beatles said and did it all with Tomorrow Never Knows, we all just absorb and reflect in our own peculiar ways.
SLIS: Well that wraps up my questions. Anything else you’d like to add regarding STFU or any of your other musical projects?
DG: We’ve covered STFU-SPC ECO-Curve but here’s something else I’ve released this year that deserves a bleep, M A D with Monti (Curve drummer) and I, we tapped into the subsonic-downbeat and enjoyed it so much we made an album and called it Slow Mo it features Rose, Preston and Joan of Ice on vocals. check it out, you might like it.
Thanks to Dean for taking the time our for this interview. You can order S T F U’s What We Want via Bandcamp by clicking here or through the widget below.