As Newtown Record Fair rolls around (like a record, baby, right round, round, round) on the first Saturday of the month, we chat to David Rodriguez aka beat maker Godriguez and the man behind 5-piece group, Godtet ahead of their show upstairs at Waywards after the fair. They’ve got a single out in May and their second album will follow in June. But first we talked about what happens when you set out to not make a jazz record and you accidentally make a jazz record and how to uncover the wildest wild cards at the record fair.
So where did Goriguez and Godtet come from?
Godriguez is obviously a very complicated, witty pun on my surname. And Godtet was just a way of differentiating—Godriguez being my solo beats project—with the band which is just a whole different sounding thing…like a quartet or a quintet or whatever.
A psychologist might suggest you have a god complex…
Yeah, exactly. Obviously, I am God. I’m actually a bit of a dick - I created famine, and cancer and all sorts of things.
How do you describe Godtet’s musical genre?
It’s jazz, I describe it as jazz in 2018. Which is weird, only because I’ve been a jazz guy and I went to jazz school. After school I was like, “Fuck jazz! Fuck the jazz world”. And then I made this album and when we put it out the label honcho guy was like, “hey man, we need a genre to put this in for the distributor." None of these other genres were gonna fit, not experimental, not hip-hop…I was like, shit I guess I just made a jazz record. It’s funny how it works like that, no matter what you try and do you’re gonna end up doing what you do wanna do deep down. Even if you try and convince yourself it’s something else.
Maybe it can be “I can’t believe it’s not jazz!”
There we go, yeah yeah.
There’s been a bit of an ongoing conversation with a few of us here about musical bios and how so often you read a musician’s bio or a band’s bio and you’re just like ‘I have no idea what that sounds like’…it’s so flowery
They do my head in. And they must do your head in too, just reading the same bullshit…
I read that a bunch of you lived and played together for years, which makes it sound like a very productive share house
Yeah we’ve all been friends, and part of the scene and houses for the last 10 or so years. We’ve all played in a million different bands together because we’re all musos, we’re all really good mates, I feel like we’re all part of the same movement, part of the same generational journey or whatever you want to call it.
And I heard the debut record, "came about without any preconceived ideas about what we were making…” Can you elaborate a bit on those sessions, how they unfolded?
I just called the guys up and was like, “let’s go in to the studio” and they were like “yep, cool”. That was it, I didn’t say anything, I didn’t say what we’d play because it was all improv. I didn’t even say what key we’d be in, I didn’t say what tempo, I just started playing and then they jumped in which is how I like to do my music...It’s how most musos like to play really.
Is that how that translates to a live show, quite improv?
Yeah, so the second record—which is like 90% done—is based off playing samples and loops. So we play over or jam over those loops, we’ve slowly ended up having a key centre or a chord progression for that track that is still totally open and jammy. For example, I played a gig on Saturday at some warehouse and I brought some new tracks to play on and half of the guys hadn’t heard it before and they just jammed it on the spot on the gig, you know. It’s definitely a way that I really love to make music and I know the other guys do too. And you know, there’s pros and cons but I reckon they’re pretty much all pros especially when the musos are good.
And do you think if you have that connection with people musically do you have to get on in a social sense?
Yeah I find that definitely happens. You’ll play with someone for the first time and you just connect. It’s like when you meet someone who’s just like a friend or whatever in a social context and you just know that you’re gonna get on.
You share a sense of humour or something…
Yeah! The same thing happens with music. And yeah, generally speaking I reckon people play as musicians like they are as people. So realistically the way someone makes music is a reflection of how they are as a person. And so if you get on musically you tend to get on personally as well, you know.
Makes it interesting if you’re a session muso, how that would be...
Yeah, the inter-relationships between musos is kind of the most interesting, enriching thing about playing music for me. We’re all so different, like every musician I know, whether you’ve got five guitarists or five producers or five drummers, they all sound as different as musically and play as differently as they are as people…their personalities. That, to me, is fascinating. You know, we did this residency in January at Lazy Bones and it did really well. And we had this thing where I’d get one of the musos in the support act to jam the set with us, which meant that we’d have this new person, this new musical voice/character/energy per set. And we all reacted to that, which meant that the set every week was very different, and people who came every week said that it was fantastic and it meant I could go four weeks in a row and every gig was really different because you had these different guests and you all reacted and played differently.
You must get some really exciting moments but do you ever get some total misfires from that as well…where it just doesn’t gel?
Right, yeah, so when you think about more improvised kind of open style of playing you get the magic of all these unknowns. You do get things sometimes don’t work. In the context that I just described playing live with someone new, it’s kind of pretty easy to make it always work and it not be a problem. But, for example, when we did the record because it is open improv, there is stuff that doesn’t work. You know, it’s just the nature of improvisation…so the record’s at [now] 30 minutes long but we had nine hours of recorded music, so a lot of that nine hours was shite.
So do you think you primarily are more of a live band?
I guess most jazz musos are like that. But for example, this next record that’s 90% done, as much as we were just a band getting in the studio and havin’ a hit there’s definitely production or mixing where it does shape it and take it a bit beyond the band’s jamming. So I guess I feel the band is massively about being live, I feel like particularly good musicians too - you know, seeing a band live is what it’s about. Don’t get me wrong - there’s beauty and magic in recording but I really think that they’re two totally different things. Being in the studio and the live thing is always so different. And I am pretty much super about just that live thing. It’s like a whole different thing, you can listen to a D’Angelo record or a jazz record on the CD in your living room but then when you go to the club and see the band and you hear it, that’s like a whole other thing that you would never be able to understand, feel or get from the record, you know.
Yeah and I think especially now, you’ve got to appreciate the live shows as a way to engage because it feels like people consume music very differently. People do listen to less albums, they’re much more song-focused.
Yeah, yeah, absolutey.
And you’re playing Newtown Record Fair Live show in April. Are you a crate-digger?
Godriguez —the beat stuff—that’s all sampled from records. My favourite thing is that you, generally speaking, have no idea what the record you’ve just found in a bin or whatever or borrowed, what it is or what it sounds like. Generally speaking, I’ve really enjoyed having no idea and just being random. You know, even if they’re really shit sounds, or the band’s really shit or cheesy, it just makes you hear stuff that you otherwise wouldn’t hear stuff that you’ve never really come across or would be interested in. I guess also I grew up making, playing and listening to music so it’s not like there’s heaps…going and trying to find my favourite Miles Davis record on vinyl that I’ve already listened to, like for millions of hours. It’s not like I’m going to be like, oh wow it’s on vinyl! Yeah, the vinyl thing for me is cool because you just get weird random shit.
So what’s your tips for finding the weird random shit? What are you looking for?
I guess the classic one is weird covers. You know if the cover’s weird, you know the music’s going to be weird. Like I was saying, I don’t really go looking for vinyl to find good music per se. You know what the good music is already. Just stuff like you’ve never seen that name or cover or the instruments on the back.
Or maybe some more esoteric genres or something?
Oh massively. So along with that, probably my favourite thing to do is to get stuff that is from other, non-Western countries. That’s actually what I am most interested in listening to and sampling. Because half the time it’s instruments you’ve never fucking heard, also weird kinda-shit recording quality and techniques and equipment. So you get cool, weird sounds.
And, what was the first gig you ever went to?
I’m pretty sure it was a Frenzal Rhomb gig when I was in Canberra. And Toe To Toe supported, this old hardcore band. And my dad came with me - I was like 11. And he sat up the back and read a newspaper, and because I was really little I could just run around and tug on a dude’s shirt and point up and they’d just really easily chuck me up into the pit. That was the best shit. It was funny - there’s this hardcore band goin’ off and I’m going crazy in the pit and there’s all these punks everywhere and dad’s just reading his newspaper.
See Godtet and Divebell play Record Fair Live Saturday 7th April, 4-7pm.