Interview: Belmez Faces
After listening to your latest LP, I feel honored to have Belmez Faces on the Sanctum!
But let’s take it from the start.
When did your personal journey in music begin and how did you join forces with Steven?
I’ve been totally infatuated with music since I was 6 years old, listening to my uncle play Final Fantasy 3 in his room and appreciating the music. Owned my first LP at 7, and started buying up music in earnest at 10. Steve and I both work at a Highschool in Kent, Washington. I joined a band he was playing in where a lot of his ideas weren’t getting expressed, so I said “Well, lets get them down somewhere and I’ll play around with them.” That’s kind of how Belmez Faces started.
I’d love to hear the story behind choosing ‘Belmez Faces’ for a band name…Is there any connection between you and the house in Spain?
No personal connection. I think we are both paranormal nerds and wanted a name that invoked some sort of mystery or unexplained phenomena. Something kind of creepy. In the classical style of lots of electronic musicians, also not being to overtly expressive in our own image. IE, not showing ourselves off a lot. At least not in any conventional way.
As a multi-instrumentalist, I guess much of your music comes from physical instruments. What parts of the music come from physical instruments and which portion of it is made in a DAW?
A lot of the music is made in the box. We’re not a “band” per se, and we don’t spend a lot of time jamming stuff out. I hop into Logic and construct a lot of the layers of the song after the bones of it are completed. Often times something will start off as an analog synth melody or guitar melody and make its way to a MIDI instrument where it can be expressed more to our liking.
Who’s the lyricist of the duo? Also, do lyrics come first in the creative process or after the instrumental?
We both write lyrics for the songs. Sometimes we piggyback each other on the lyrics. Sometimes they are primarily written by him, sometimes primarily written by me. The music pretty much always comes first. Sometimes an idea for an instrumental will have already been created, then we will have lyrics kicking around that could potentially fit with the musical idea, either in mood or in rhythmic compatibility.
Your influences (The Cure, New Order, The Soft Moon among others) come from the same place/era you are representing with ‘This is the Dark Timeline’. Are you influenced/inspired by any -less obvious- sources?
Yep! Pinback, Drab Majesty, Black Marble, Part Time, Wild Nothing, Hotels, Boy Harsher, DIIV, Cold Cave, Mogwai, Mild High Club, Ruby Haunt, Duster, The Radio Dept etc. A lot of these bands that are doing 80’s revival sorts of sounds. We are both 80’s babies, so Tears for Fears, Genesis, Duran Duran are all part of the equation. Then we got older and discovered stuff like Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, The Chameleons and other bands like that were from the same era, and it definitely pushes the aesthetic we are going for.
When did you start making ‘This is The Dark Timeline’ and what was the vision behind it?
It has been 3 years in the making. We’re both busy, “full time career with lots of hobbies” sort of guys.Music is life at the end of the day, right?But we got a lot of responsibilities and unfortunately music has to take a back seat a lot of the time.You know how in time travel movies people in them somehow end up traveling to the “dark” timeline, and then have to get themselves back to the “good” timeline where they came from?The premise is that if we’re those characters, we are, in actuality, living in the dark timeline.The timeline where people went off the rails and things weren’t as they should be.The timeline where evil was allowed to fester and people made all the wrong choices instead of the right ones.The timeline where vanity and technology took on a messianic appeal but left us all lonely and empty inside.I sincerely think we are living in this reality.
Can you name a couple of ‘children’ from your album that have a special meaning to you?
They all have their own story, you know? Considering that the songs are more “constructed” than banged out from jamming, they take a long time to actualize, and a lot happens in life between conception and completion. I think ‘Sinister Blood’ holds some special place for me because it was pretty much the first song that was finished, and really led to me being like “You know, I really want to make a whole album of songs like this”. I always say that if you don’t like listening to your own music, nobody else is going to. I like all of them.
No offense, but I find that ‘Dark Timeline’ seems to enclose everything the album has to offer. It’s the grandest closure you could give. Can you please express yourself on this track?
No offense taken. You vibe with what you vibe with, right? Often, we learn in music or storytelling that the 2 things you remember the most are typically the beginning, and the end. It is also funny that this seems to be the case for Dark Timeline because it felt like an easier song to write musically. It starts a lot more subtly than any of the other tracks, so I guess it is more dynamic than the others because of the way it ends. Considering it is the titular track, it should leave you feeling like at the end of the album, you did kind of hear the “big idea”, if you didn’t hear it anywhere else, you know?
Are there any albums you’re currently listening to or new artists you’re discovering at the moment?
I do lots of carpentry and woodworking, which can be pretty tedious work, so when I pop into that I’ve actually been listening to lots of podcasts lately. Astonishing Legends and Timesuck with Dan Cummins are currently my favorites. As far as music, Vinyl Williams is always coming out with new stuff that I’m liking. Slow Pulp’s new album is good. Gojira came out with a new album that’s pretty brutal. I’ve been working with my buddy Chris Sicard on his most recent endeavors, you can play “Youth and Sex” on Belmez Faces Spotify because we collabed on that song, and I suggest listening to his other stuff.
I always ask, how has the pandemic affected you personally and as a band?
Personally, its been a pretty good year.Things have been crazy of course as teachers, but I’ve still been able to accomplish a lot, learn a lot of new skills, and get better at existing ones.I was mixing the album with a good friend of mine, Matthew Chadwick, and we mixed the whole album out primarily through Zoom, which has terrible sound quality.We would kind of rough mix through the app, and then I would listen to the bounces and make notes and we would go from there.It took about a year to do it this way, when in person it probably would have been maybe a month-long process; I don’t recommend it; but the pandemic forced that.It affected that the way our music videos were made, and probably affected the ultimate vibe of the album.
Are there any plans in the making while we are listening to your album?
“Youth and Sex” music video will be coming out soon this year.A single with a couple songs should be dropping next year, followed by another EP.I hope to keep producing music at this rate, but as I’m sure you’re aware, making “music” and having it heard goes so far beyond just the creative process.It is a TON of work.I’m lucky enough to be able to be creating right now, and while I’m super stoked that this album is out now, I’m already looking ahead and working towards, what will hopefully be, even more well crafted and actualized music. Thanks for listening!!!
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