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19 October 2010

Interview: Joey Levenson of SPC ECO.

Joey Levenson is one member of the trio that makes up the incredible SPC ECO (of which the other two members are the one and only Dean Garcia, of Curve fame, and Rose Berlin, who also happens to be Dean's gorgeous and angelic-voiced daughter). Joey provides SPC ECO's signature noisy guitarscapes and dreamy samples, and happens to be quite the connoisseur when it comes to effects pedals of all kinds (as you'll read in the interview). Having just released the stellar Silver Clouds EP (read the review of it here) and the Out Of The Sky EP, SPC ECO is going stronger than ever, gathering a momentum When The Sun Hits doesn't see slowing down anytime soon. We hope you enjoy getting to know SPC ECO's Joey Levenson a little better in this interview, and if you are new to SPC ECO's work, they are an absolute MUST check out. They are of the highest caliber shoegaze/dream pop being released right now, no question about it. Cheers!

1. Can you tell us what you've been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (recording, tour, etc)?

Well, SPC ECO's wheels are turning again, but I guess that's all I'll say on that. :) I'm doing some guest spots on some people's records, as well: Slide (formerly Sincerely Paul, some heroes of mine), Bliss.City.East out of Chicago, and Tom Lugo from Stellarscope, who I've done some atmospherings (is that a word?) before, in a side project called "Super Toys." I may be on a international compilation coming soon as well. The So Young stuff, well, I've got like 200+ songs on my hard drive, and even more on 4-track tape, all of which I have no idea what to do with.

I like doing the guest work, stretches out what I do into different forms, you know?

2. What is the most important piece of gear for your sound (pedals, guitars)?

My imagination and experience. Id like to think my music comes from me and not just my equipment. Of course, you have got to have gear you like and gel with. I'm really strict, as well. I use my ears a lot.

3. What artists have most influenced your work?

I read an interview with Paul Weller saying a songwriter spends his whole career recreating one or two songs. When I heard that, I thought long and hard about it and figured out I'm basically recreating a lot of the sounds on Death in Vegas single Dirge, which came out in the late 90's. La, la, la.

4. How long have you been playing guitar?

Since I was 6 but I really got into it about my early 20's, so about 5 years ago. :)

5. Do you consider what you are doing "shoegaze"?

Well, considering Dean Garcia is one of the pioneers of shoegaze, and Trip-Hop as well, I guess I could say that, although Dean has called us
NuGaze since the beginning.

For me myself, I don't think I'm a shoegaze guitarist. I'd like to think I'm a kind of modern psychedelic player, hopefully in the line of Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen), Ronald Jones (The Flaming Lips) or Nels Cline. I think a lot of the sounds of what was shoegaze are kind of cliches nowadays, and I don't do cliches. So I hope that's what I can add to SPC ECO and everything I do.

6. How did you meet Dean Garcia?

I stalked him on MySpace, saying, "Listen to me, listen to me!" Luckily, he did, and suggested we do something together, and was very persistent. I'm happy I listened. Dean is a big guiding force in my musical life and fortunately he's very into what I can do, his good vibes encourage me to be as nuts as I can! I also am very proud to hear Rose in the mix as well.

7. What is the difference between playing in SPC ECO and your solo stuff?

Dean, Rose, and some megabytes! I do the same sounds for both, but for SPC ECO, Dean sprinkles his magic bag of fairy dust on it. A very good thing indeed.

8. What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/noise bands?

I've heard a few, but actually, I like to listen to more rock: Wilco, Ryan Adams, even Switchfoot. I dig Nels Cline a ton, he's a monster!

I like a strong sense of melody more than atmosphere. I think that if melody leads, the texture and atmosphere will follow, if that makes sense.

9. How many effects pedals do you own?

Haha, you mean today? I went to Japan twice last month and came back with like 8 pieces, they were cheap! Then I got some last week from a little shop I know. I have about 60 or so, right now. I always like to try all kinds of stuff. You never know.

10. How long have you been a collector of effects pedals?

I've done this since the mid-90s when they were next to nothing. I've had almost every "vintage" piece there is (maybe). Also, I've bought and sold stuff as a hobby for about 15 years, so I've done a lot of research and I always talk to people. I know what sounds I like and what doesn't work for me, so I go from there. Now, I'm on a big John McGeoch kick, so I've picked up a few cool old Japanese flangers to goof around on (although McGeoch used a MXR).

11. Do you have a certain guitar you have to use (a special one)?

I've had quite a few, but right now, I have a 80's Yamaha 335 copy, an original Gretsch 6120, and an old-ish Gibson Firebird, as well as a Z.Vex custom teardrop guitar. I guess I use the 335 the most, its a beast with great pickups. I really love Gibson stuff the most.

12. What is your philosophy on life (if any) that you live by?

Well, musically, I have two rules: one is always make fresh sounds and vibes and the other is to have those sounds make the heart flutter. Sappy!