Gustaf….A Clunk Back and Forth Interview

Image result for gustaf band nyc

Hello Gustaf….welcome to the Clunk universe.

Please tell us about Gustaf…..who does what?…. with a word or 2 to describe each personality, where are you based?.

Vram: Lydia plays the sing. She is an extraordinary entertainer and great at standing on chairs.

Tine plays the bass. She is a charming story teller and very excited about life.

Mel plays drums. She is one of the greatest treasures of this planet.

Tarra plays percussion. She is a very fun and bubbly human.

Vram plays guitar. He enjoys sleeping and ice cream late at night.

How does Gustaf come up with song ideas? As individuals, as a band? Eg. how did ‘Mine’ come together?

Lydia: In our early days, I would bring demos to the group and everyone would adapt or write their parts based on those. The first 5 or 6 songs were pretty close to done before we played them live. As we played more together as a band, we developed the habit of playing half finished songs and developing them onstage. The live environment is great for feeling out where the song naturally wants to go. We make the most of it by having a fluid and playful approach to our live sets. 

‘Mine’ is a song that we played out before it was finished. We had the bass line and the chorus pretty set and the final structure worked itself out over the course of a couple shows.

Unlike the first batch of songs, the material that will be on our second album originated more from all of us playing together in a room. It’s fun to see how the process is evolving.

Gustaf seems to be a name from Old Swedish (I looked it up!). So, why is the band called Gustaf?

Lydia: I got it off a poster my Dad gave me which he thinks was a gift from either his sister or his parents. It’s from a 1972/73 exhibit on Gustaf III at the Nationalmuseum Stockholm and I haven’t been able to find another picture of it on the internet. We didn’t quite know what the band would become when it all started so the goal was to pick a name that was ambiguous, less than five syllables, and sounded good in the sentence ‘hey are you going to the [insert band name here] show tonight?’.

‘Audio drag for ego slobs’…..please explain.

Lydia: It’s a literal and ambiguous term for what we do. ‘Audio Drag’ is a term coined by Laurie Anderson referring to the pitch shifting pedal she uses for her alter ego Fenway Bergamot. Tarra uses a similar pedal in our band. ‘Ego slob’ is a term I made up to describe someone who does a bad job of translating the outside world within the context of oneself (ego + slob). Most of our songs are about or for the ego slob that lives within all of us.

Why can’t I get hold of the ‘Mine’ 45 in the UK? They all seem to be in the US.

Lydia: Our label Royal Mountain is launching a UK store shortly! So hopefully that will be a thing of the past.

Is there an album in the making for 2021?

Lydia: Yes! We are finishing it right now. The plan is to release in October with the first single coming out in July.

I read that you have gigged with Bodega and Tropical Fuck Storm. We love both those bands. Have you learned anything from watching or being around other bands?

Vram: We love these bands, too! From watching them perform, I’ve learned that sometimes it really pays to vibe out on your song for 10+ minutes.

Tarra: I’ve learned from watching Nikki of Bodega that it’s really fun to point a drumstick at people in the audience and make eye contact

Mel: We love those bands too! Watching and playing with other bands has definitely taught me a lot over the years. Bodega taught me sometimes all you ever need is one drum and one stick and something to believe in and you are good to go. Tropical Fuck Storm taught me it is possible to throw a guitar like 25 feet in the air without breaking it!!

Lydia: BODEGA are good old friends of ours, we’ve all been playing music in Brooklyn for the last 10 years or so. They helped us out a lot when we were a new band and we got some early fans thanks to them. They’re a  really fun band to watch – high energy and focused on establishing a meaningful bond with their audience. They’re also a great band to share a bill with.  As an audience member/fellow musician, Ben has a thoughtful presence I enjoy. I like looking over at him when I’m onstage because it’s good a temperature check of where the vibe’s at. His eyes don’t lie! When I’m watching BODEGA perform I’m either like Ben on the wall observing with a contemplative stare (which makes me feel like we’re all comics watching each others’ sets at a comedy club) or I’m thrashing around like a happy fool in front. Both are enjoyable states of being.

Any plans to get over to the UK? If so, don’t forget Carlisle!

Lydia:  If we get everything under control with the pandemic *fingers crossed* we’ll be over there around November.

If we were able to come to your neck of the woods for a long weekend where do you suggest we check out. You are the Entertainments Committee!

Vram: It might be cheesy, but I’d suggest checking out Central Park. There’s something surreal about being in the middle of a park, but being able to see very tall buildings above the trees.

Tarra: Take a walk over the Williamsburg bridge and eat lots of pizza!

Mel: My neck of the woods is the actual woods so I don’t have many actual places to go except lakes and rivers and hikes. My number one suggestion would be to come up and raft down the Delaware River though!!

Tine: Get a delicious coffee at the beautiful devocion  And make your way over the Williamsburg bridge and enjoy the view and the energy. You will end up in Lower East Side. Check out the freeman alley for some fun art, maybe even spot a surprised piece from banksy and look down to see the original cobble road from the 1800s. Walk toward John Varvatos to see what used to be the NYC punk rock hub In the 1970s, cbgb.

Lydia: I love walking most places in the city — Chinatown especially. You also can’t beat the view on the east river ferry. If you’re looking for something less conventional, check out the Dream House. It’s a light and sound installation in an old apartment in Tribeca that’s open till Midnight. Trippy stuff!

Any bands/artists that you recommend we have a listen to?

Vram: Francie Moon and Vikingur Olafsson!

Tarra: Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network, Purple Witch of Culver and Shilpa Ray

Mel: Erica Russo, Spowder, Neptuna

Tine: Doja Cat, Fontaine’s DC, Sharkmuffin

Lydia: War Violet, Binki, Donzii, Slaughterhouse (LA), Y La Bamba

Thanks so much for taking the time for Clunkonline. We can’t wait to see you in action.