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Echo Park: The New American Exile Vol 4

February 23, 2012

The fourth guest column from certified music producer Brian Gibbs aka Echo Park - an inimitable insight into the city's underground culture

  • Text by Satellite Voices

Guest Feature by Echo Park

Brian Gibbs is a producer of modern funk music as Echo Park. He runs a label called Ugly Boy Music and has a new single - “Fiber Optic” available through Skream’s Disfigured Dubz label on vinyl / digital wherever quality electronic music is sold.

Follow Echo Park on Facebook, Twitter, his blog and label site. London debut event! December 15.

The New American Exile Vol. 4

After a streak of steady gigging here in Santiago and up the Chilean coast, I have come to the conclusion that I need to vent a bit. It’s been two months since last I wrote you, my dear readers, so please forgive me if this is a bit of a ramble.

Coming out of the madness and excess of my first jaunt around Asia and Europe… I ended up in Mexico City. Arriving at probably about four A.M. local time, my buddy from earlier tweener travels opened his home to me even though he was still half asleep.
I recalled walking with him through an overly pretentious shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur several years before. This motherfucker, my travelling “brother” bought the “Bitches Brew” box set in a shop and proceeded to explain it to me line for line.
Riff for riff we went through that thing. Not just in Malaysia, but deep in the Indonesian jungle. As we explored, he would go on and on about how the record was made. That record, “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis and company, would later become my bible. My homie, Arthur Henry Fork would indeed become my brother as well.
Four years and approximately zero accolades later, my brother Arthur was making, what some people call “sound art”. I just thought he was playing that old freejazz shit and tweaking it through his mac.
Myself, I had been making heavy, broken techno and what would have been “pre-dubstep”. I mean techno that was half time and with the claps on the three. This began to bore the hell out of me. After hearing what Artie Fork was doing with Harmelodics and having him lecture me on topics like “do what the fuck you want” and “make your own goddamned sound” I started to experiment with songwriting and singing.
My bro would go to work every day to some cunting television station in the posh part of town and I would stay there in his humble home, writing tunes in all sorts of odd hybrid styles. Some of the songs from my forthcoming album such as “Telefon” and my next single on Skream’s label “Stop Before We Start” were written during those crazy, booze soaked months. That was more than six years ago and those tunes are about to finally come out.
The thing is, there in Mexico I met the girl who would become my wife. We had a gorgeous daughter in a scummy public hospital and did the best we could. We took my wife’s son and our new daughter to a small archaeological village called Tepoztlan when the pollution of Mexico City began to affect the baby’s breathing. This place was once described to me as: “An insane asylum with the doors wide open." That description fits the bohemian pueblo nicely.
We made friends and learned about indigenous music and culture. I did a cumbia dub album. We finally started to fit in.
Then my techno advances ran out. Gigs fell off. I began to sell contraband just to get by. We somehow managed to scam four tickets to Chile, my wife’s home country and decided, “Why not?”
Now, some three years later, I regret NOTHING.
I do catch myself thinking occasionally, “What would have happened had I stayed in Indonesia or Spain?” But then I remember, each mistake or coincidence led me to where I am today. It reminds me of a quote from one of my heroes:
“If you don’t live it, it won’t come out…” – Charlie Parker
Good ol’ Charlie Parker died at 34-years-old. He had a few triumphant shows in Europe, left kids behind and was taken for granted by the masses until well after his children were grown.
I can kind of relate to that. I don’t plan to leave my kids behind at 34. Then again, I don’t bang heroin like he did either. Regardless I can, for sure, feel in touch with the struggle I have read about the life of the “Yardbird”.
He seemed to be a pretty intense guy who was only ever really lauded by other musicians. He used horse the way I use the herb. People wrote him off but he showed them. In his short life he made a huge difference in the American sound and defined a musical paradigm with ramifications far reaching into the next century.
I often wonder if people like the little homie Skrillex (now three time grammy winner!) have ever reflected upon the advances made by Bird or Miles and their relevance with respect to what is done today.
Bebop was their “dance music” and it was never as big as what goes on nowadays back home in The States. However, the modular construction of the music, the harmelodic noise concepts and general “FUCK YOU” to established musical conventions have obviously directly afforded us the sonic freedom we currently enjoy. Anyway at least, after many years exiled to obscurity, my time up to bat has come around again. My new music is finally being heard and critical recognition is much appreciated.
I miss California though (12 years is a long time) and plan to GET THE FUCK OUT of Santiago as soon as humanly possible. I love this country and the people in it, but here in Chile, producers of electronic music are seen as pendejos, immature, lazy bums who push buttons for as living. Discrimination is as rife as classism or nepotism.

On my end of things I know that if I can brave the pressure and keep and frustration in check, that some day sooner or later, I can make it back to the United States and finally introduce my daughter to my mother, her grandma, who has been waiting to hug her since the day she was born nearly five-years-ago. Maybe I can get back to steady touring on the West Coast and replace the nest egg my family and I spent relocating after the earthquake here in Santiago. Maybe I can some how get in where I fit in, again.
The future is obviously not mine to see, but destiny has a way of letting us feel like we control it instead of it controlling us. The truth is I guess we are all just salty bags of mostly water, holding on for dear life as we are hurled through the vastness of space, just trying to make sense of it all.

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