For those familiar with the multi-disciplinary art of Delia Gonzalez, her upcoming return with longstanding music collaborator DFA Records is an undeniably alluring prospect. Working alongside analog synth "wizard" Gavin Russom, Gonzalez began her musical output in the late nineties, perfecting an experimental ambient tone in records such as The Days of Mars and Relevee. Since then, Gonzalez has carved out an exciting solo trajectory, regularly changing bases between Berlin and New York and producing a consistently creative catalogue of work which transcends artistic lines. Inspired by the sounds of her Cuban heritage, a love of film and her own piano and synth craftsmanship, Gonzalez has curated a multifaceted and unique sonic style. Whilst her debut solo LP In Remembrance unveiled a beautifully minimal piano score created to accompany four short ballet films, Gonzalez now returns with Horse Follows Darkness, an American Western-inspired album which exhibits a skilful blend of classical and electronic influences. Ahead of her sophomore release, we caught up with Delia to discuss the creative processes which shape her musical work.
Horse Follows Darkness has been termed a ‘modern electronic soundtrack for the Revisionist Western.’ Can you tell us a bit about the influence of the American Western genre on this record?
The inspiration for the American Western is all over the place on the record, randomly interlaced from theme to title. Moving back to New York City from Berlin felt like I was embarking on a quest to the wild west. New York is the wild west. I don’t think most New Yorkers perceive it this way. I stole the name of the album from my son. Horse Follows Darkness was the title for a horror film he made with his best friend. During this time he also turned me on to watching Westerns which before this I had an aversion to. I thought Horse Follows Darkness would make a better title for a Western- so it’s kind of like a collaboration between the two of us. Wolfgang my son also plays on the album.
Is there a specific narrative you were wishing to convey? Or any specific themes you wanted to explore through using the conceptual framework of the Western?
Anytime I go to record or write music I think of it as a soundtrack. I love soundtracks- the theatrical. The theme song for The Good The Bad and The Ugly was a big turn on for me. When I went into the studio with Abe Seifirth I played him the theme song. I wanted to capture that fervency. That film is amazing, it gets super psychedelic at some point (plus Clint Eastwood is so hot, he conveys so much intensity without saying a word)— I wanted to create a soundtrack for this. I think the record comes close to this with the track Roulette.
It’s a record which encompasses a wide range of sonic influences. Can you tell us a bit about the different sounds on the album?
Before I went into the studio I was unsure if I would do an all piano album again. I did have some things in mind- I knew I wanted guitars and at least one dance track. Then I walked into Abe’s studio and he took me on his synth tour- he has an expansive collection. I wanted to play all of them. You know, I work rather intuitively and Abe is super receptive to this. I mean I do come into the studio with actual songs but I am always open to the moment. So Abe kept coming out with new synths for me to play which made recording so much fun. Then when I wanted guitar he would come out and play whatever…. guitar, drums. Working with him was fantastic. I also had my friend and muse Baxtor Alexander play piano on the record. He is a brilliant musician, artist, monk.
Synths have featured heavily throughout your musical work. Where did your love for synthesisers originate from?
80’s post punk Brit pop!
Horse Follows Darkness is your second solo release, how do you feel your personal sound has changed and developed since your early work with Gavin Russom?
I feel like I am volumes and chapters removed from that part of my life. It is hard to say how I’ve changed or my musical style has developed. We are always in a constant state of flux as humans, metamorphosing. However I feel like there is a certain style of playing that is all mine and I can't distance myself from that. I think this is apparent in any music I make or in my artwork. If you listen to the songs I’ve written there is always a sense of repetition which is very inspired by my heritage and Afro Cuban music. The influence is there, though it may seem subtle.
How is living in Berlin different to New York? How do these two environments shape your creative processes?
In Berlin the days are seamless and seem to last an eternity. It’s great for visual art. I can literally sit for hours and endlessly work on a drawing. New York has rhythm- even the traffic has rhythm (the traffic in Berlin sounds more like the first introduction of Ballet Mechanique, rather combustive). I can only make music in New York. There is too much distraction for me to just sit there and concentrate on artwork or anything else.
It is clear that film and sound are heavily interconnected in your musical work. Can you tell us a bit about this relationship?
I think I process ideas visually not necessarily through words. I studied film- film and music inspire me way more than art does. The gratification is more instant, you feel it. You don't need to conceptualise it or understand it, it is a very primal reaction. You react to it before you intellectualise it. I like this. Probably growing up watching music videos was a great determining fact for me to work in this way. I always visualise stories or scripts while writing songs.
As an interdisciplinary artist, how do other mediums specifically influence the music you make?
My art making and music go hand in hand. I think up songs while I make up artworks and vis versa. If you look at my drawings you can see that they are the landscapes for my music. I make these super intricate repetitive drawings. They are very organic and mimic the hypnotic process I use while writing songs. They are really just one- of visual and sonic sameness.
You have a longstanding relationship with DFA Records. How did this collaboration come about? Will you continue to release records with DFA?
My connection with DFA started with Gavin. Before we released Days of Mars he was their in house synth wizard. We had a film screening one night in the LES and G invited Jon Galkin to come. We played a live set and after Jon Galkin came up to us and asked us to put out a record. DFA is like family now, yes i intend to continue to work with them.
Do you have any plans for future releases? What direction do you see your music taking in the next few years?
I’ve already been thinking this one up. The next record will be a surprise, I’m ready to move onto the next genre - whatever that may be - disco/horror?
Horse Follows Darkness is out 5th March on DFA Records.
Words: Georgia Tobin