Groundislava reimagines Juice Jackal’s “Looney Tune”
BY : VICTORIA JESIONEK
Los Angeles’ professionally unprofessional music label, WeDidIt, turns 10 this week and they’re throwing a huge party to celebrate. Leading up to this Friday’s celebration, members of the collective are dropping adapted versions of songs off of Juice Jackal’s newly released EP. Shlohmo and D33J shared their renditions, and now Groundislava interprets “Looney Tune.”
Why did you choose Looney Tune out of all the tracks on the album to remix?
Ben and I first started talking a couple years back through sending each other demos of unreleased tunes. He had a handful of unfinished songs (many of which ended up on his EP) that he felt stuck on, and he invited me to take the stems of these tracks and try some new directions with them. This process produced our collaborative track “I Can’t Sleep” as well as the versions of “Nightmare”, “God” and eventually “Looney Tune.” However, my initial demo made with the “Looney Tune” stems was scrapped, as I had pushed it in a synth pop direction more akin to some of my personal work. When we decided to do the remix EP I thought it would be a cool opportunity to flesh out that demo I had created.
What narrative were you trying to tell with your rendition?
Ben and I both really liked that original demo of “Looney Tune” I had made but it just didn’t fit the more raw tone of the rest of his EP – this remix EP was a perfect opportunity to bring that version back from the dead. I called it GIL’s “version” instead of GIL’s remix because it was the direction I intuitively went in using the pieces of his original demo, before the final version of the track existed – like an alternate interpretation of the same idea.
You and Ben are coming out with an album together, why do you think your styles are so complimentary?
We are both melodically driven artists with a long list of common influences spanning music, video games and movies. While I never stick to one genre, I generally maintain a melodic focus and a pop-leaning structure in my work. Ben has a similar approach, but he works with a pretty different skill set – whereas I’m most comfortable with electronic production as well as hardware and software based synthesis. He is a talented guitar/keyboard player and singer (and a great producer as well!). Our vision is often very similar when we set out to make a track, but we reach that goal through completely different means, so together able to build really expansive, yet focused work at a rapid pace.
What do you two do to celebrate after finishing a song? Where do you go eat?
We celebrate with good food – namely Mitsua if we’re in west LA or PHO 87 if we’re on the east side of town. Ben just called me earlier today and mentioned how stoked he was to hit Mitsua when he touches down in LA for the WDI party on Friday.
You posted a lot from E3, do you have any plans to score a video game?
I’ve been trying to break into the video game scoring world for years and it’s definitely been tough as it’s a pretty tight knit community, though everyone who I’ve met in it has been really great and incredibly talented. I’m very proud to say that I’ve actually been working on my first full game score this past couple months – you’ll hear more about it later this year probably :).
What are your top 3 favorite video game scores?
That’s a tough question and I don’t think I definitively list my top 3 on the spot. Some of my absolute favorites, however, are the various Bomberman games on N64, Chrono Trigger, Phantasy Star Online I+II, Megaman X, Total Annihilation, Donkey Kong Country, Halo 1 – but there’s also tons of games that have just 1 or 2 absolutely incredible songs that I can never remember off the top of my head. Lots of weird PC games from when I was really young – BOOM!, Pocket Tanks, Obsidian, to name a few.
I heard you’re playing a new live set for the 10th Anniversary WeDidIt Show, can you tell me about that?
I got my start performing at Low End Theory, a place where artists would still often integrate some of their friends’ music into their livesets. This influenced me early on, as it was a hybridized method that created contrast in the music being played and also allowed you to pay tribute to artists and friends whose music you respected.
I’ve always played largely originals (mostly unreleased stuff I make just for live purposes), even in my DJ sets, but given a crowd that’s there to actually see me (versus when I get booked to play a party or a club night with a built in audience) I will introduce more live elements, whether that’s incorporating live drum machine sequencing or playing keys. The last few years the shows have generally called for more traditional DJ sets so this year I’ve been really ready to get a new proper live set together. I made new versions of some of my classic songs that haven’t been played at shows in years to modernize them a bit and integrate some of my newer production ideas. I’ve also built them out in ways that introduce sections for me to improvise. I spent the last week making a new version of my track “Girl Behind the Glass” that’s way more upbeat and aggressive that I can’t wait to play out for the first time.