Geoff Geis

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Echo Chamber – coming this summer!

Okay, so I’m writing for LA Record again!

conradjoetext96hdark12aI actually quit on my own volition. My column, “Heart of Darkness,” was supposed to be all about my adventures going to underground shows on the East Side. And maybe I did a pretty good job at first, but eventually it became a chore because I burned out on going to shows and stopped being a legitimate representative of the scene I was supposed to represent…

I’m in a different place now, and I’m glad. And so the next print edition of the magazine will include my first column in a while.

I’m really excited about the subject matter of this one: a collaborative art space called Echo Chamber in the former Echo Curio spot on 1519 Sunset Blvd. It taps into history, but it also promises the future. Curators Sarah Cisco and Rhea Tepp have been putting a ton of effort into doing something aimed at expanding our ideas about what communal arts spaces can be.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 11.30.50 AMI was going to post my column here today in order to help them on Kickstarter — but they’ve actually already achieved their goal! So I’ll save my column for the magazine, which should be available all over town in the next couple of weeks. I know I’m excited.

But even though they’ve already reached their own goal, Echo Chamber has pledged to donate the first $400 they receive over their goal to helping out other community spaces: the Smell, Pehrspace, LA Fort, and HM 157. So go and support not just Echo Chamber but the greater DIY/DIT community by donating on Kickstarter. Join the club!

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 11.31.01 AMHere’s a bit of the interview that I did with Rhea to prepare the article. Much of this didn’t make it into the actual column because I had to focus on all the rad events that are coming up! In the following passage, Rhea expounds upon the nature of DIY/DIT spaces and her motivation for putting together projects like this.

The first event is July 3, by the way. You should RSVP on Facebook.

Here’s Rhea:

“There is a sense of urgency within the DIY/DIT community that both empowers its existence and makes it quite vulnerable. For those who choose to create the spaces for individuals to express freely, operating these venues is their art.

I certainly consider organizing Zine Fest and Echo Chamber a facet of what makes me an artist. I find a lot more freedom available as a performer in a space than I do as the space creator. If I use a curse word while performing, the FCC isn’t going to be sitting in the audience waiting to tell me I can no longer share my art with the public. It terrifies me to imagine that as an actual reality, but in a sense, that’s the type of restriction that artists who open independent creative spaces are facing.

Those who want to open a creative space with artistic intentions first and foremost, and business intentions second, third or perhaps not at all, are incredibly restricted in their ability to do so.

There is also a disconnect between artists and our local government, so often the resources feel inaccessible that would allow for an artist who is not also a business person to create that space. It can be difficult as an artist in Los Angeles to know if our local government values independent artistic communities. A number of local venues have been shut down over the years (Echo Curio, Church on York), close out of fear, or reevaluate their initial mission in order to operate.

One space that definitely stands out as one that has had to reevaluate its purpose for the community is the L.A Fort. The space has been open for a year and a half and began with a focus on live music. After being unable to continue hosting shows, the space is now a membership-run collective of individual studios.

I want to create a temporary environment for collaborations between all types of artists, face-to-face. I value the connections I make with people at a live music show, but those moments are often lacking the environment to create and share ideas together. An event like L.A. Zine Fest certainly revealed to me that the desire for these connections exists and is incredibly powerful right now within this culture.

I want people to put down their smart phones for a moment and be open to making a zine beside someone, or maybe even with them. I want people to share stories of what the creative process is like and take time to connect through these experiences.

Check out the next issue of LA Record for more…

Filed under: Art, Events, geoff geis, Human Interest, music, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Say Hello to Soft Sailors

I am delighted to announce that I have a new band, Soft Sailors! Our music is this post, but you have to scroll down to hear it!

We're performing at Pehrspace on Friday, May 30.

We’re performing at Pehrspace on Friday, May 30.

We’ve got our first shows coming up. The very first one, at LA’s esteemed Pehrspace, is this Friday, May 30. It’s being presented by Mountair and will feature Galaxy Kat, Untoward Children, and Flight Crew as well as us. Why don’t you RSVP on Facebook while you wait eagerly for it to start?

So who are these Soft Sailors? What is our story, and how is it that we sound?

Perhaps you remember the band Pizza!, of which I was a member for several years. We were five best friends and the band was a truly collaborative experience — we were all in our mid-twenties, in that fun space between college and real life, and we lived together and were constantly being creative together. At the same time, I was in a band called Big Whup with a similar background and process and a similar personal bond — we even got matching tattoos!

But you know how it goes, don’t you? Time, proximity, and the trials and tribulations of growing up cause people to move apart. Eventually the halcyon days gave way to interpersonal drama, and eventually we stopped being able to operate the way we used to.

Pizza! was a sick band, and by the way no one ever booed us offstage during our entire run -- fuck you, Culkin! [photo by Jed Johnson]

Pizza! was a sick band, and by the way no one ever booed us offstage during our entire run — fuck you, MacCaulay Culkin! [photo by Jed Johnson]

With Pizza!, we stopped living together and creating became a chore. We held on, in name only, for a while, before officially calling it quits in 2011 with an album (We Come from the Swamp, available here on Spotify) yet to be released. With Big Whup, the other singer decided that she wanted to focus on other things but didn’t bother to say anything  — I read about her decision secondhand in LA Record.

The whole thing was depressing.

Both bands had something pretty special, and we even had a little bit of momentum. Each group went out with a fizzle, rather than a bang.

Here's what I looked like when I was with So Many Wizards. In this photo, I'm Frank Maston. [David Uzzardi]

Here’s what I looked like when I was with So Many Wizards. In this photo, I’m Frank Maston. [Photo by David Uzzardi]

Anyway, in the ensuing years I kept doing music. I made a solo album, Princess, by finishing up some scraps of songs that I’d written for Pizza! and Big Whup but that never got produced due to our calcifying process. I played bass in my friends’ band, So Many Wizards, for about a year — we toured England and made a pretty cool record, Warm Nothing. I also started spending a lot of time creating covers and instrumentals to upload to my SoundCloud account, which started to build a bit of a following and helped me connect with musicians around the world.

All of those experiences were really fun and educational, but I must admit that none of them gave me the same thrill that I got from collaborating so hard with my best friends in Pizza! and Big Whup. As the time passed, I started to wonder if I even should continue making music at all. When I left So Many Wizards, I was intending to bow out and do something else – maybe even leave Los Angeles. I was working with Pizza!’s drummer Tyler on an album of solo songs that I thought would be my farewell to music as an attempted career.

Tyler doesn't look anything like this now, but he did once.

Tyler doesn’t look anything like this now, but he did once.

One song for that album, “Shake it Up,” was an early Pizza! jam we’d never recorded. Most songs fall away after a while, but this one always kept coming back to me. It’s a song about turning away from dependence on a wrecked relationship, no matter how comforting you may be deluding yourself into thinking it is. Perhaps it keeps coming back to me because the premise keeps repeating itself in my life.

We decided to record it with Pizza!’s bassist, Alex. He did such a good job that we asked him to play bass on the rest of the record.

Duncan, at practice.

Duncan, at practice.

And then the Smell, which is the lynchpin of the entire Los Angeles DIY scene and one of our band’s chief inspirations and motivators, wanted us to reunite for their 16th birthday this January. We accepted the offer, and it felt so good to play again! As we prepared for the show, we all realized that we’d been missing each other’s energy. Duncan, who’d spent the ensuing years getting a Master’s Degree, started talking about writing together again.

Jenna, on bass.

Jenna, on bass.

This was around the same time that I started hanging out again with Jenna, the bassist of Big Whup, who had spent the years since that band’s demise getting a law degree and playing in a great new band called Sweet Bump It. She was really enthusiastic about the new songs we’d been working on and offered to help — which was perfect, because a couple of brutal world tours with Liars and Fol Chen had burned Alex out on the idea of doing anything other than recording.

So Jenna agreed to take the bass, not only solidifying rhythm section but infusing the whole project with both energy and professionalism. And that completed the lineup — Rand, who was in both Pizza! and Big Whup, is too busy being a robot genius at Jet Propulsion Laboratories to be too involved this time around; but fortunately he’s agreed to do engineering stuff for us. His first task is installing an electric pickup onto an acoustic banjo.

And now, we’ve got a handful of shows and a couple of songs.

Here’s the second song we released, called “Work Doesn’t Pay.” I wrote this one during that time I was telling you about earlier, when I was thinking about quitting music and ditching Los Angeles.

Lyrically, it’s a pretty heavy number and reflects some pretty heavy thoughts. I’m proud of it because it’s more direct and honest that I usually am, and clearer. The story’s there: I was demoralized. I’d come to this city because I thought I could accomplish things here, and I’d started to accomplish them but now they were crumbled and all I had left was this go-nowhere day job that I’d gotten in order to sustain myself as I tried to accomplish what I was no longer trying to accomplish.

Soft Sailors photo by Dalton Blanco.

Soft Sailors, from left to right: Tyler Sabbag, Jenna Eyrich, Geoff Geis, Duncan Thum. [Photo by Dalton Blanco]

That’s not where I am now — and I sure am glad. For one thing, the job’s better. But mostly, it’s really great to be playing with these guys again. And I’m really excited about the material.

What started as a farewell now seems like a new beginning. And thank goodness for that; as much as I wanted to try and do something else, I sure as hell couldn’t figure out what. Music just keeps calling!

So please come see us, and don’t put it off! We”ve got three shows coming up in rapid succession, and then we’re taking off for a couple of months while we complete more recordings, tend to our personal needs (Jenna’s even taking the bar exam), and find a publicist.

Here’s the schedule:

May 30: Soft Sailors at Pehrspace. With GalaxyKat, Untoward Children, Flight Crew. Presented by Mountair.

June 6: Soft Sailors on KXLU’s Demolisten. Streaming online from kxlu.com and on the air in LA at 88.9 FM between 6-8 pm PST.

June 13: Soft Sailors at the Smell. With Post Life and more. Presented by KXLU 88.9 FM.

Like Soft Sailors on Facebook for music, images, events, and nautically-themed jokes.

 

Filed under: geoff geis, get excited, music, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This will be exciting: Saccharine Surreality

Do you know about Saccharine Surreality?

It’s an exciting art show opening at Pehrspace this Saturday, January 12. Curated by Sarah Cisco, it features approximately 10,000 amazing artists who have created work in celebration of mankind’s “most innocent vice” (tell that to Lil’ Wayne!), candy. There will be lots of free candy and there will also be amazing candy-inspired cocktails.

The show will be up at Pehr until March. But there are special reasons for you to attend the opening. First, there will be a wonder-tent. Don’t ask me what it is, but know that it is a “one night only” thing and AWESOME. Second, I’ll be performing a few candy-themed cover songs at certain points during the night. I’ll never be playing these again, so if you want to hear me do a slowed-down, reverb-drenched, synth-heavy cover of Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy,” this is your only chance. Hint: you do want to hear that!

Anyhoo, feel free to RSVP on Facebook so that everybody knows you’ll be there. The 100th RSVP gets free candy (just kidding, everybody gets free candy).

Here’s Ms. Cisco working on the tent:

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Filed under: Events, geoff geis, Human Interest, , , ,

Patches in the museum

On Saturday, Sarah (aka Disco Cisco) was part of a group show at Pehrspace. She made miniatureMUSEUM for PAIR, a diorama show with the theme of “parallel worlds.”

The girl’s got a unique artistic vision and a knack for turning her aesthetic into reality. For this project, she made a seven-story dollhouse full of theme rooms and curated a miniature art show to go inside of it. I got to see her go through the different stages of developing the piece slowly over a little more than a month and I was really impressed with the final piece. I’m excited for the next project she undertakes!

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Sarah’s miniatureMUSEUM will be on display until August 31; if you want to see it online, there are pictures at her website, Intergalactic Fantastic.

I actually participated in the piece as well. I contributed a video, which we displayed in one of the rooms. Here’s the video that I made, entitled “Travels of Patches:”

I wanted to do something sweet and simple while experimenting with techniques I’d not previously used. I had fun making this little video collage. I filmed all of the stuff with Patches, and the backgrounds were sourced from Youtube.

Here’s what the movie looks like in the museum. Photo by Adrian Zaw.

In addition to contributing the video, I wrote about Sarah’s museum and several of her fellow dioramists’ works for seancarnage.com. Here’s that article.

Filed under: geoff geis, ipod touch, Video, , , , , ,

Superbowl B4 De-lete

This is a recording of a song called “Superbowl B4 De-lete.” It features contributions from members of the band Moses Campbell: Andrew MacKelvie, Pascal Stevenson, and Miles Wintner. It was recorded by Christopher Cole.

Click on the downward facing arrow, located on the right side of the player, to download it.

Superbowl B4 De-lete (featuring members of Moses Campbell) by Geoff Geis

I’ll be playing a set on Thursday night at Pehrspace with friends. I go on early, at 9:30. RSVP on Facebook.

Filed under: mp3, , , ,

Toe Jam

I’m in a new band called Toe Jam. We had our first practice last night, and it was pretty killer. Check it out:

Saturday, October 2
Sean Carnage and Kyle Mabson present:

High Castle
Zulus
NASA Space Universe
Toe Jam

Starts 9:30pm / $5 / all-ages

Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown

Toe Jam, the world’s first Free Grunge band, features members of Pizza!, XBXRX, Big Whup, Violence and Negativity, Foot Village, Cockwind and Essay.

Filed under: Events, , , , , , , , , ,

Nicole Kidman at Pehrspace featuring “members of Pizza!”

Tyler and I guested on a song during Nicole Kidman’s set at Pehrspace on Monday night. We enjoyed ourselves, and I think that the end product was quite good. Our friend William posted a video of it to Youtube:

Click here to see the entire set. Thanks to William, Jon Barba, and everyone at Sean Carnage Mondays.

Filed under: Video, , , , , , ,

In LA Record – Review of Kyle Mabson’s Birthday Party

LA Record recently published my review of Kyle Mabson’s Birthday Party at Pehrspace. Click here to read it. It features my perspective on Signals, Breezee One, XboxRox, and Abe Vigoda. I think that it came out really well, although there are two typos that I made and didn’t catch before I sent it to the editor. I won’t tell you where they are.

Filed under: Reviews, , , , , , , ,

Music

This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

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