The latest artist I had a chance to email with was Gnostic Gorilla, or as his friends might call him: Dean Mason. Broadly put, the band makes something that could arguably be called dark electronic music. There are heavy gothic themes played over synthesizer beats. Our email exchange touched on some familiar subjects, for which Gnostic Gorilla had some fascinating answers that helped color in a picture of who Gnostic Gorilla is, as a music project.
- What are your biggest musical influences?
More or less there are bands/artists who have ‘influenced’ me and others that I like and ‘inspire’ me. Bands that I love and regard as some of the best are Gary Numan, The Doors, Type O Negative, Japan (David Sylvian as a solo artist), [Black] Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, KISS, Smashing Pumpkins, Janis Joplin, Bowie, Gordon Lightfoot, M Manson, Korn, Chester Bennington, The Cult, and in a very special way, Elvis. There’s no voice like that of Elvis Presley.
Bands that have had some kind of influence are many of the ones already mentioned, but more specifically I’d have to say Jim Morrison is a huge influence as far as lyric writing is concerned. But my own music is more along the lines of Skinny Puppy, Rammstein, Ministry, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and many other industrial/Goth bands. I have to say that I absolutely admire Beck’s approach to writing lyrics as well. I absolutely love the soundtrack for The Queen of the Damned which has influenced some of my music (yet to be released actually by Cleopatra Records).
- Do you listen to any band or genre that would surprise your fans if they found out?
Well, in my opinion, any true artist usually likes all sorts of music. I especially like music that is ‘art’ as opposed to just ‘pop’. Not big on ‘pop’ or commercial if you will. (with some exceptions) I love East Indian music of all styles, and Russian Orthodox Monastic chants. I like a lot of hip hop, and old school country. I don’t like new country.
- What’s next for Gnostic Gorilla?
Gnostic Gorilla, which is a one-man outfit with some contributors is going to enjoy another release with Cleopatra Records, possibly in the summer and as well a few other re-releases (best of) and compilations with two small labels. (Nowhere Now Records and KL-Dark Records).
- How do you think streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have changed how bands release music? Has it made it easier or more difficult?
I suppose yes and yes. It’s more difficult in some ways but also helpful in others. Look, the world has changed drastically. This is the way things are. An artist could lament all of this and be negative or just find ways to keep focused on the art one does.
- Do you have any non-musical influences that show up in your music?
Religious questions and texts often influence what I write about. I have a love for vampire movies and some of my music alludes to the vampire mythology. Much of my music addresses the human struggle, with an emphasis on the scourge of depression and mental illness.
- Can you describe your sound?
Hmmmmm. Dark. Bizarre. Off the wall. An acquired tasteless. Koo koo for co-co puffs…hahahahahahahaha
- What are you listening to lately? Anything you would recommend?
Fear Incorporated is a band I’ve been introduced to in the past month. Also Kill Shelter has some neat stuff. However, I tend to gravitate towards The Doors. Something almost mystical about some of their music. “When The Music’s Over” and “The End” will always be among my favourites [sic].
- What made you decide to “get into” music and start a band?
I just like music. All sorts of music. And to be perfectly honest, much of the music I’ve done since 2012 has been purely experimental and as a hobby. Never thought it would land me a label deal with a label like Cleopatra Records and so on.
- How does your writing process work, do you all collaborate on the lyrics or is that job reserved for just one person?
Gnostic Gorilla is a one-man outfit mostly. I have had the lovely Damla Bozkurt from Turkey join me on violins but more or less that is it. I (Dean Mason) start with beats/drums and bass lines or keyboards and start from there. I often start out thinking I’m going to do a song a certain way and a certain style, but I end up going in different directions. The lyrics come at the very end of the process. It’s a very difficult thing to write lyrics/poetry first and then try and work a song around the lyrics. But that’s me.
- If you had to pick just one, which album would be your favorite?
Oh no. Don’t do this. I’m weeping profusely. Ok. I guess I’m going to be a prick and say it would be a toss up between “Dance” by Gary Numan (a brilliant album) and “The Doors-Absolutely Live”. Will you let me have both? Hunh? Come on…hahahahaha
- Are there any bands you would desperately love to tour with someday?
If I did tour, which I doubt will happen because my parole conditions won’t allow it…hahahahahaha… (just kidding) …But seriously…if such were to happen, I’d love to tour with Gary Numan. It would be quite neat.
- What are your thoughts about bands releasing more singles, rather than following a traditional route and just releasing albums?
Actually, Elvis for example, and many others did just that—singles. Then albums were a collection of those singles. That said, I suppose it depends on the type of band. I think more ‘pop’ oriented bands would do well with that approach: singles. But I would find it difficult to see a band like Skinny Puppy or Ministry doing just a single. I think the 3-5 song EP route is one that many bands are trying. But at the end of the day, many of the younger people who listen to music seem to relate to singles only and hell, some of them don’t even know anything about the artist save for that “particular song”.