- Criss Flint
- END OF PARADISE: Solo Jaxon (left) and Goon des Garcons (right) perform with Or at the White Water Tavern on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Goon des Garcons' August release, "Sore Loser," kicks off with an intro called "End of Paradise." It clocks in at just under a minute, long enough for the watery, equatorial sounds of Eden to be usurped by a menacing guitar riff — one with a timbre we've come to associate with a sense of foreboding since "Enter Sandman" taught us that minor arpeggios through a chorus pedal mean trouble. We talked with GDG and fellow Little Rock expatriate Solo Jaxon about what the end of paradise sounds like, their shared acclimation to a new home in Los Angeles and their return to Arkansas ahead of their Saturday show with the band Or at the White Water Tavern.
Where, exactly, is the "End of Paradise?"
GDG: To me, the "End of Paradise" represented the end of a time in my life where everything was seemingly good. The end of me thinking my life was this fairytale, where — if I was talented enough — the universe would look after me and make sure I ended up where I needed to be in the end. I'll always believe in destiny, but now I believe more so in making things happen for yourself and never taking "no" for an answer.
You recorded "Sore Loser" at a place called rogue.black studios in Los Angeles. How's it been making music out there? Is it easier for you to make the personal connections you need to make? Or harder because it's expensive and everyone's fighting for airtime? Or harder for other reasons?
GDG: It's been fun. I've learned a lot about myself creatively, being thrown into a new environment like this. When I lived here, I was barely in the studio twice a month, and those sessions would be maybe five hours apiece. That's no way to practice your 10,000 hours. Now I'm in the studio every day working my ass off and that feels great. ... Things are definitely more expensive and stressful, but I'm a Gemini and I thrive off the pressure, whether I want to admit it or not.
Solo, your song "I'm Not Okay" gets at this — that basically, life pursuing an entertainment career can be totally shitty: stretching $2 into dinner at Rally's, sleeping outside the venues.
Solo: Rally's held me down, lol. I still get the $2 box when I go there. It's a wild reality, but it's not as sad or daunting as it sounds. In LA, it's a bit different. We have our own place. We hustle like crazy to get bills paid, create and keep up with everything else. There's this notion that just because we're out there, we've "made it," which isn't the case, but since people believe that, sometimes their support lessens. ... I've only been gone for a few months, but I see now just how small and slow to progression Little Rock is and can be.
Is "I'm Not Okay" autobiographical?
Solo: Most definitely. Beginning to end, I chose to make this a very vulnerable and honest effort. ... I really used to sleep in my car. I'd park it all over Little Rock. Clinton Library, behind the Starbucks on Broadway, in front of the River Market, across from Vino's, Two Rivers off Cantrell, somewhere close to Pinnacle Mountain, beside these trains in North Little Rock, Chenal Mountain, places in Southwest: I had crazy spots. Anywhere with free Wi-Fi. (Shout out to anybody who ever gave me their Xfinity info.) I'd either write all night, or try to get some sleep — never really good sleep, 'cause I was constantly watching for people or cops. And the video depicted some of that. ... This song is meant for you to be honest with yourself. It's for everybody who feels the same as I did or worse. I've never been suicidal, but I have wanted to give up. My heart goes out to those who've felt alone, stuck, stagnant or ready to quit. I want anything I make to serve as an outlet or a push, something that will get you in a progressive headspace. Yell it out, make somebody feel it.
Goon, what sort of direction do you give when you're developing these sonic environments, like the one the song "Cave" takes place in? Do you use bits of film or art to get across musical ideas?
GDG: "Cave" is a funny story. I came in the studio that night wanting to make a love song, but from the perspective of a guy my age that wasn't the corny, generic, "I love you" song. I told [producer] Idle [Kid] I wanted to make something that felt like "808s and Heartbreak," and we sat and played around with sounds while watching Nicolas Winding Refn's "The Neon Demon" on mute until he came up with that melody.
I love this line: "I don't even go to God when I have questions/I hit the net and I'd rather let Google be the Reverend, Hallelujah." What are you saying here about the way we approach facts and authority?
GDG: I feel like these days, we're so technology-based and dependent that sometimes it feels like we don't have time to sit and wait on blessings, or answers to our life problems. People are starving out here, people are dying. I'm not discrediting religion by any means. No matter my beliefs, I would never push them on anyone else, but I feel like we're living in a time where we need solutions, human-based solutions to the problems and crises we've created ourselves as humans. So many answers to our own problems and life questions are right there for us to figure out ourselves.
- Criss Flint
Let's talk about drugs! The internet is full of music geared toward specific (and mostly illegal) chemical experiences, but on "Sore Loser," there's a lot of what I think of as a sort of "Robitussin" feel — loss of sense of time, paranoia, overlapping voices, repetition, echoes. How do you see drugs as part of the creative process?
GDG: Even though I reference codeine in my song "Taboo," my main drugs of choice when making "Sore Loser" were psychedelics; acid and mushrooms are my favorite. I don't see them as a necessity for creating, or believe anyone should use drugs as a tool for creating exclusively, but I love to use psychedelics to help escape myself and see things from new perspectives before I start projects or after I finish them.
After we finished recording "Sore Loser," me and Idle Kid decided to trip mushrooms on the beach to celebrate his birthday. It was one of the greatest days of my life. I listened to the album on the train ride back home from Santa Monica, looking over LA, that day before we released it, and knew at that moment we had done something special. It was one of the craziest moments, but I knew 100 percent without a doubt that we were moving in the right direction.
Musically, I feel beats like "Shia Labeouf" have a lot more in common with metal and EDM than with hip-hop, and there's a lot of mixed-genre programming at DIY shows these days — Terminal Nation with y'all earlier this year at The Parlor, for example. Do you feel like breaking music down into genres is a thing of the past?
GDG: I feel like a lot of people just need a label to classify things in their minds. For that reason, I fuck with genres, but to limit sounds to them is a huge "no-no" to me. If you like something, listen to it. Don't label sounds, and definitely don't assign them human traits as to who should and shouldn't be able to enjoy those sounds. It's music. This isn't some tangible thing. It's art. It's magic. It's for everyone, always.
Goon des Garcons and Solo Jaxon headline a show with Or, a new project from Jack Lloyd, Everett Hagen, Mike Motley and Adam Heathcott, at 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at the White Water Tavern, and join Yuni Wa for the "Sessions" series at South on Main 8 p.m. Wednesday, November 1.