Interview: GILA

Deviation’s latest release comes from GILA, an artist residing in Denver known for his “intricate and abstract beat-making” skills. He has delivered a second EP, Pick Six, which follows on from his debut project on XL Recordings – Genkidama. For those familiar with Genkidama, it can be agreed that GILA has an interest in exploring deep and dark modes, something which he has continued in Pick Six. Opening with “Swirl Suit”, GILA sets the scene with sounds that could easily represent the serenity of unbothered waves, building up towards a busy atmosphere, then surprisingly revisiting calm settings. As we move on to “Pick Six”, GILA swiftly picks up the pace with the forceful nature of this track shown through prominent keys, trap tones and varying percussive elements. Throughout the rest of the EP, GILA continues to vary along the energy spectrum, changing the way in which the listener would anticipate what is to come in each track. With the presence of airy vocal echoes and fixed melodies combined with an essence of an unpredictability, Pick Six showcases GILA’s unique musical talent, especially his ability to manipulate not only feelings but possibly even perceptions of surrounding environments. We briefly spoke to GILA to find out about how his music relates to him as an individual, his involvement in Gorgeous Children, musical influences and more.

Can you talk me through your thought process for this project? “When I signed on with Deviation and Benji B, it was largely due to the response the title track “Pick Six” was getting the year and a half before the release of the EP. People were constantly asking Benji and I about when the track was coming out, so we knew we had something that resonated with people. Given that, we knew we had an anchor track for the rest of the EP to revolve around. During the writing process, I churned out a few different permutations of this EP — some more ~banger ridden~ some more ~cerebral~.  After much consideration and occasional consternation, we decided on the final version, which I think encapsulates a good variety of my styles, as well as keeping true to the ethos of the Deviation parties and brand that Benji has worked hard to cultivate over the last decade.”

Would you say that the chilled vibe present in the EP, especially in “Hoot Hoot” and “Swirl Suit” relates to how you are as a person? “Absolutely. I try to identify as a “chill” person on a whole, but I think everything I make is a direct extension of how I’m feeling at the time. I’ll oscillate wildly between depression and serenity week to week, and I think a lot of the tracks I make reflect that and fall somewhere in that spectrum mood-wise. Music has always been a useful outlet to work through my feelings. I can recall feeling the specter of depression or anxiety looming, and deciding to make an ignorant rap beat with tambourines to cheer myself up. Other times I’ll fully embrace the melancholy and see where it takes me. My only hope is that my emotions translate and resonate with the listener.”

Let’s discuss the video you dropped for “Pick Six”. I find that the use of visuals in music can have such a powerful effect on the perception of a tune.. sometimes enhancing it, sometimes not (yours being the former I think). Who did you work with and what were the ideas behind it? “I agree, and that’s why I wanted to work with Nic Hamilton. His past work has done just that for whatever song he’s taken on, and I knew after meeting with him that he understood my music on a deep level. We only discussed a few thematic ideas together (gila monster skull motif etc.) before setting him free to do whatever he wanted and when he came back with the video, it exceeded all expectations. I think the video adds a surreal and epic quality to the song through Nic’s amazing 3D work, while also firmly grounding it through the dancer scenes as a real-life club slumper.”

Your music has been received quite well over here in the UK. Has your writing ever been influenced by any British styles? “Any producer out today is lying if they say music from the UK hasn’t influenced them in one way or another. I grew up listening to everything from The Prodigy to The Cure, Aphex Twin to Skinny Puppy, Boards of Canada to Dizzee Rascal… The list goes on and on. There’s no country besides my own that has had a bigger impact on my passion and approach to music.”

How would you describe your sound in one word to a new listener? “Trench. I’m still figuring out what that means definitively but right now you know me when you hear me, and it’s that Trench Music.”

I am quite interested in learning more about the Gorgeous Children project you are involved in, how did that come about? “Thank you for not just assuming we’re dead like others in the press have recently. We are very much alive and nearing completion of our next project. Since the outset, its been Face Vega on the raps and me on the beats (thankfully I have never attempted rapping and I solemnly swear to never do so). We both started messing around with music around the same time and some of his first recorded raps are over some of my first beats. We’ve come a long way since 2011 and I’m really excited about what we have in store for everyone.”

Now that you have released this EP, what are your plans for the near and distant future? “I’ll just keep on manoeuvring through the trenches. I’ve got a lot of new music to share this year that everyone will be hearing soon, and I’ll line up some tour dates on top of that. I’m going to hit people with more releases this year than any year prior and set the tone for the next. Additionally, people can expect to hear some of my production behind some very very good rappers. But above all, I’m devoted to becoming a better person and musician for the foreseeable future.”

Pick Six is out now on Deviation.

Michelle Ulor