Starting off your week with an interview w/ Toronto based electronic outfit Gnostic Gorilla. The group is essentially a one man operation manned by Dean Mason, and the group has a bevy of electronic influences ranging from gothic to industrial and even new wave to create a truly diverse musical blend that appeals to listeners from all the aforementioned genres and beyond. Dean was nice enough to take some time and talk about the group's formation, his musical influences, his creative process, the recording of their latest release "Freak's Mind", and what the outfit is like away from the studio. Here is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your name and the name of your project?
Hello. I’m Dean Mason of Gnostic Gorilla, which is mostly a ‘one man’ operation with the exception of Damla Bozkurt who played violins on “St. Basil’s Asylum” ( title track from “St. Basil’s Asylum” released by Cleopatra) and “Ninth Hour” which is on “Hide The Ghost” released by LGP-ONE. That said, in my early days, when I was just using the project name “Dean Mason”, I had a great band record with me in the studio: Dave Davidson on bass/Keys—Tony Bourdeau on rhythm and lead guitars—Shaun Saunders on rhythm and lead guitars and Chris Byrnes on drums-percussion.
Give us a brief history or “Gnostic Gorilla”?
As I alluded to in the previous question, my first attempt at getting involved in recording music was when I was a teen-ager and recorded a single called “Dark Hallway/Golgotha” which was released on my own ‘home-grown’ label called “Lonely Ghost Productions”. In 2012, I decided to try my hand at recording music, electronic music, of a ‘Gothic/Dark Wave/Industrial’ bent (though I didn’t plan it that way…it evolved that way) and I released some singles using the project name “The Lonely Ghost Project” but later changed the name of my project to “Gnostic Gorilla”. In 2015 I released my first album as “Gnostic Gorilla” titled “St. Basil’s Asylum”. This album has now been rereleased by Cleopatra Records. (October 2018)
Describe your early musical influences and how they have helped shape and inspire you to this day?
My dad was in a band from the time I was a baby to my high school days. He was probably in many ways my first influence! He did all the top 40 songs, etc. He was a bass player and vocalist. He had a fondness for Elvis and I inherited that as well. I still think there is no voice like the voice of Elvis. But later I got into KISS and then really heavily into Gary Numan. Gary Numan was probably the biggest inspiration for me as a lad. However, most of my own music owes more to other more industrial/Goth bands like Ministry (Al Jorgenson is a genius), Type O Negative, Skinny Puppy, Bauhaus, Japan, Alien Sex Fiend and a huge shout out to The Doors. If I was on a deserted Island and was allowed only two albums I’d request “The Doors Collection” and “Dance” by Gary Numan. I need to mention as well, Nash the Slash who was not only an inspiration but he was supportive of my own endeavours.
How would you describe your sound to those who aren't familiar with you?
Well, some of it is Gothic while some of it is more abrasive and industrial while still other albums (6 in all) are more retro-Goth/New Wave. I even did an ambient album called “Luna Melancholia”. I will say at the outset, Gnostic Gorilla is not for everybody. It’s an acquired tasteless. Hahahahahaha But all jokes aside, if you ever have to go for a long drive, put an entire Gnostic Gorilla album on or even a playlist and it will be quite a trip. If the cops pull you over for driving under the influence, I cannot be held responsible. hahahahahaha
What is the energy and joy you get out of recording music--how big of a rush do you feel?
You know, that’s a funny question. Not because the question itself is funny but because for me a LOT of emotions are experienced when I record music—I even sometimes wet my panties. Hahahahaha. No but, I often start a track and I’m like, “Oh yeah…this is friggin epic!” Then I get through it and write lyrics and record vocals and then when it’s all mixed and finished I’m like, “oh man…what a pile of total shit!” And I often hate the song with a passion. And I let it ferment a bit and then go for a drive all pissed off and play it in the vehicle a few days later and I’m like, “Oh, holy shit, this is the best song I’ve ever done!” It’s bizarre how the mind works. One of the songs I absolutely despised after it was done, turned out to be a grower and I see it as one of my best songs. I think a lot of it is when you’re working on a song and you have to play it back over and over again you’re like, “ok, enough with this weasel barf man”…and you get fed up. But sometimes you return to it later and it sounds different.
Talk about the recording of your latest release, and what it was like to put it all together?
“Freak’s Mind” is the latest release. (Released on LGP-ONE in February 2019) That album was not planned at all. By that I mean, I had more or less decided I wasn’t interested in recording new music for a while, if ever. I felt I reached a plateau. But I began messing about with a song here and a song there and slowly I had an album’s worth of tracks. I added an older recording however called “Veil” as it seemed to fit in well with the other tracks, though it’s a bit more dark metal opera or something. I was really in a mood to do abrasive music but also there were a lot of different realities on my mind that inspired me lyrically. So, there we are.
Besides music, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to bake wedding cakes and knit socks for stray cats. Hahahahaha Not but, seriously, I sadly have lost any interest in doing recreational stuff like fishing or whatever. It’s been like, “work, music, staring at the wall for a half hour while drooling, hahahahahaha and back to work again”. I used to love taking a small boat out on the lake and going fishing and I would always tell the fish I caught, “ok, I will let you go this time, but next time you’ll become one with the butter and garlic in the pan…” hahahahahaha. Anyway…
What's coming up next for you, any future shows or new music you'd like to promote?
At this time Gnostic Gorilla is not planning any live shows. I have a lot of music to promote, and soon a new album to be released by Cleopatra Records called “Shaman Rave”. There are two other albums, both ‘best of’ type deals by KL Dark Records (Chasing Phantoms) and Nowhere Now Records (Lebensmüde). As well, I’ve worked with a project from Australia called “CRIX IIIX”: I wrote lyrics and recorded vocals for two songs.
How can fans find out more info about you online?
All of the major links are available at the official website at: http://www.gnosticgorilla.com but I will provide links for Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gnosticgorilla and BandCamp: https://gnosticgorilla.bandcamp.com/
Lastly, what is the one thing you enjoy the most about being a recording artist?
The ability to express myself in an artistic manner. That’s all it’s about, being creative. The rest is secondary. I’m not a mega star and never will be.