July 20, 2015

BOZGO - Lost in the Night (2015); Gabe Lackner Interview

BOZGO is the alias of Los Angeles-based artist, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Gabe Lackner. His BOZGO debut album, Lost in the Night, dropped today online where music is sold or streamed and is comprised of a collection of songs and sounds best described as rhythmic, mysterious, and retro. I had a chance to catch up with Gabe and discuss his new album and the BOZGO project.

QuickCrit Music: BOZGO - How did you come up with the name for this project? Is there a story behind it?

Gabe Lackner (BOZGO): I wanted an alias/name which did not have any other associations and was easy to remember. I came up with BOZGO after my dog, Bosko, but switched a few letters around so that it was my own. He has been my sidekick the last few years, so it seemed fitting.

QCM: Lost In The Night - From the cover art to the song titles, on the surface this album seems to embody late-night themes and activities. What were some of the themes, moods, and feelings you were trying to capture with the music itself?

GL: After living in a few different cities for the majority of my adult life, I found that they really show their personality during the night. There is a certain mystery which comes out after the sun sets, and I love all of the different stories that are playing out simultaneously. I would say that this album was mostly inspired by the early morning hours when most people are sleeping, but I was still awake either in my studio working on music, at some random after hours rave, or just walking my dog around empty streets. I loved some of the incidental conversations and interactions I would have with random people I was most likely never going to see again. There is a certain calm, but at the same time, a very strong energy. Its almost like the city is breathing. It felt like I was having my own private time with the surroundings and made me feel connected. This album was inspired by that mystery and losing myself in it.

QCM: How would you describe your music? Are there any artists or albums that inspired this album?

GL: Deep, rhythmic, mysterious, retro and optimistic. I would describe my music as telling a story, without the story being too literal. I started off as a guitar player/singer-songwriter, but I got the "synth bug" and really got into analog synthesis and old school techno. I wanted to meld a lot of my original influences (funk, blues, reggae, soul) into this genre and find my own sound. I am also deeply influenced by Dub music, so heavy delays and reverb really make up a big component of these songs and the sound that I am going for. As far as artists that inspired this album, I really love obscure producers where you do not necessarily know the artist/producer... but you definitely know the song! A lot of this is from DJ culture and how they meld a lot of random tracks into one cohesive body of work which has it's own identity. I also have to say that Nile Rodgers guitar playing was a big inspiration to these songs. When the last Daft Punk album, "Random Access Memories," came out, he was all over it with his guitar playing and it reminded me of how much of a place guitar has in dance music. He also is prolific. It was an epiphany when I realized that he either produced or played on some of the biggest and baddest songs from the 70's and 80's.

QCM: Many of the tracks have a cinematic feel to them, as if they were written as a soundtrack. Did you have particular visuals or a storyline in mind while you crafted the songs?

GL: Definitely! I have been really inspired my good cinematography, editing, and the arc of a story in good film. It actually made me decide to make an album, instead of an EP for my first go around with BOZGO. There is a story behind "Lost in the Night," but it is pretty abstract. It is about a man hearing a voice and a calling from a woman, but she is almost a ghost or from a different dimension. He follows this voice and it takes him into the depths of the night trying to find her. The thing is, he does not know if he is imagining it or if she is really there. His intuition keeps guiding him through the grid trying to reach her. He finally finds her when the sun rises, her name is Aurora (which means "dawn"), but this is only when he finally falls asleep. He realizes that he can only be with her in his dreams and in sleep, because she does not exist in this dimension. Pretty weird, but that is the broad definition. Maybe I need to find a screen writer to help the whole concept make sense!

QCM: I understand that you started the music for this album while living in San Francisco and finished it after your recent move to Los Angeles - Do you feel that this album in any way reflects your experiences in those cities or transition from one to the other? Are you the "Vagabond"?

GL: Yes and yes. When I was in SF, I was living downtown in the SOMA area and had a view from my top-floor apartment overlooking the whole SF skyline. I spent countless hours on my balcony just looking at the city lights. Whether it was in between sessions in my studio, with friends, or by myself. I would just stare at it endlessly and feel both inspired and in awe. "Lost in the Night" was made during my transition to LA, which was a departure from that view into a whole different metropolis. I have now replaced that view of the SF skyline with a fire-pit I have in my backyard. It is actually quite similar in certain ways. Now I stare into the fire endlessly and feel a similar feeling. As far as me being the "vagabond," I rented out my apartment constantly in SF via Airbnb to pay the bills. This definitely gave me a very "up and go" lifestyle. My dog and I have travelled every corner of California and then some...whether camping in the redwoods, staying at a Motel 6 in some random town, or couch surfing. So yes, I am the "Vagabond."

QCM: What song are you most proud of on this album? Why?

GL: I would have to say "This Kind of Love," the second track. I love the groove and how you can not tell if it is happy or sad. It just is. I feel like it best sums up the last few years and the direction I am heading with my music.

QCM: What song do you consider to be the single, if any?

GL: Definitely the first track, "Midnight Friend." I love the imagery in the lyrics and it feels like something that everyone can relate to. It is about that point in the night where you are looking for love, and idealizing everything. It starts off rather stiff, but slowly gets funkier and I feel like it has a nice pace to it. The song was very inspired by the movie Drive and the opening sequence of the ariel shots of downtown Los Angeles. I want anyone listening to it to feel instantly cool, excited, and like the night is full of possibilities. Just like that opening sequence from Drive made me feel when I saw it for the first time.

QCM: What can we expect next or going forward from Bozgo?

GL: I just got done building my recording studio in Silverlake, so I have already started working on some new singles. I want to make soulful dance music which evolves based around my new surroundings. I also am working with some amazing singers in LA, so I plan to feature a few of them on my upcoming releases. More then anything, I want to be as prolific and creative as possible while making something authentic and genuine that will resonate with people.