We were fortunate enough to catch up with GROOBLEN following the superb release of ‘The Spider’. Enjoy now!
How did you first get into music?
Aside from all of the hilarious attempts at writing pop songs for Club Penguin in elementary school, I started getting into playing and writing music after watching my brother play the drums for a youth program here in the Bay Area called ‘San Francisco Rock Project’.
I remember watching him perform at the Hotel Utah for a Clash tribute, and it dawned on me that hey… maybe I could try that, too!
What is the first song that captured your attention as a youngster?
oOoOo man… one of the first songs that really captured my attention as a kiddo was ‘Testament to Youth’ in Verse by The New Pornographers.
On the first day of fourth grade actually, my teacher gave us this assignment where we had to share our favourite band and song- me not knowing what ‘pornographer; actually meant, it sounded like some sort of space adventurer to me!- so I hopped around the classroom squeaking about how much I loved listening to The New Pornographers- needless to say, my fourth-grade teacher was very confused! hahaha
Who influenced your latest release ‘The Spider’?
As far as musical influences go, I was listening to a lot of doo-wop around the time I started writing ‘The Spider’, especially from local faves here from the Bay Area like Shannon Shaw and Nobody’s Baby.
As I was writing ‘The Spider’, I was experiencing some withdrawal side effects after taking trial medication for a rare optic nerve condition I had been diagnosed within June 2020, so there’s a lot of that surreal “I wonder when this is gonna end” feeling and ambivalence reflected in the tune!
You have a new EP entitled, ‘Dinosaur Plant/The Spider’, can you tell us any more?
Whooooosh, putting together the EP was a really introspective journey for me. ‘Dinosaur Plant’ was written around the beginning of my prognosis in June 2020 and ‘The Spider’ was written around the end of taking the medication I had been prescribed in hopes of curing the condition, in December 2020.
Both songs were written at two very pivotal moments of my diagnosis. It’s cathartic to have a lot of my thoughts before and then during taking this particular medication captured in song.
In 2020 you collaborated with Zimbabwean beat maker and producer Rudd, what was that process like?
Rudd is effin’ awesome! Wowee yeah, we met through Forbes Mujuru, the founder of an independent music group, Big Soko Music, who I connected with around May of 2020.
Forbes and I are also both managers of our own art/music collectives and love to support the independent music community, and at first, he introduced me to Rudd telling me that he was looking for someone to match his music with animated visualizers. Forbes sent me his Instagram, and we started talking there; at first, I made a couple of animations for Rudd’s beats, and then one day I sent along some of my music and told him I also write tunes and how it would be cool to collaborate on something.
A few days later, Rudd sent me this absolutely ethereal and beautiful beat featuring the mbira and all these spacey synths and was like “you wanna throw vocals over it”? I spent about a day just sort of getting lost in the instrumental track and wrote down what words came to mind and dropped the vocal. That’s how we got ‘Confused Humans’.
I am seriously so honoured to have worked with Rudd, he’s doing some really cool things, and he’s one of the most dedicated producers I know- check him out! @rudd_onthebeat on the good ol’ instagrammie.
What’s the music scene like in San Francisco?
The San Francisco music scene is really dang rich and so vast for such a small community in hindsight. I haven’t done much as Grooblen in the scene quite yet (darn rona!) but have gigged in a band called Fantasy Spiders with some amazing pals. I’ve also been going to local concerts here pretty much my whole life, and from what I’ve been exposed to, everyone is so supportive, and so far I have really met only grateful, truly kind and empathetic creatives who just want to make the scene a better place for all!
What are your other passions aside from music?
I am super passionate about the independent art and music scene. I run an art and music collective called Big Leap Collective with the goal of promoting indie artists and providing fun shows and shopping opportunities. I’m also a big fan of DJ-ing, and I volunteer at a community radio station here, KXSF 102.5 FM- it’s also where my passion for film kind of flourished. I just love learning as much as I can about other musical, visual, and cinema artists. I also love illustrating and animating, mostly little goofy creations and filming silly little skits!
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Argh, there is so much to change… but I guess if I were to change one thing, I say enough of this weird mainstream snooty degradation of independent bands. Of course within the scene, everyone is for indie acts, but from what I’ve heard from a bunch of my pals who are really incredible independent musicians, it is so hard to find touring gigs without going kinda broke.
I think that labels are great for some folks, this isn’t a dig on labels AT ALL, but it should be easier and more affordable for independent bands to find gigs and opportunities especially when looking to tour and get their music out there more. This is something I’m hoping to eventually foster with my art/music collective, Big Leap Collective.
I want to create a place for independent bands from around the globe to gather in an inclusive, supportive and safe environment… now how can I go about creating my own venue? That’s something for future/post-covid-Ellie to figure out, haha.
What new music are you listening to at the moment?
TONS of fresh local releases from here in the Bay Area- Foxtails Brigade, Alleyes Manifest, Rose Haze, Everyone is Dirty, Thee Great White Shark, there are really so so many…though aside from all the awesome juicy local stuff, I have to say that one of my friends really turned me onto WILLOW and Jahnavi Harrison’s new album, RISE. that one’s definitely on-repeat for me.
What musical plans do you have for the next two years?
I’m in the process of recording my first ‘Forrealz’ LP, which is SPOILER! gonna be titled ‘One of Four’. It’ll be a full-length exploration of what the eff was going on in my head when I was diagnosed with this rare optic nerve condition and what the healing process was like and continues to be. And DANG, when covid things settle, I’m just really looking forward to playing shows again with a more expansive repertoire and more stories to tell… and at some point, a tour would be really sweet too. But ’til then I’ll just keep singing about geckos and dinosaurs!
FV Music Blog February 2021
Want to have a feature? Contact us here!