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22 February 2016

WTSH Interviews Gregory Cole of CRESCENDO.

Los Angeles-based group Crescendo is Gregory Cole, Olive Kimoto and Jess Rojas. This trio of top shelf dreamgazers has been generating quite a buzz in recent months, releasing a slew of strong singles in promotion of the highly anticipated new LP Unless, which was just released in its entirety on February 19 via We Were Never Being Boring. The new record is a gorgeous collection of space pop transmissions characterized by sprawling atmospheres built upon crisp rhythms and shimmering melodies. The release highlights in full the band’s uncanny ability to harness a classic dreampop sound while still blazing their own unique trail. WTSH recently sat down for a lovely chat with the project’s charismatic founder, Gregory Cole – enjoy the read and definitely check out Unless – you won’t be disappointed.

How and when was the band formed?
Gregory: Like most dreampop/gaze projects, Crescendo started in my bedroom as I used my guitar and instruments to create sounds that would hopefully allow me to escape Los Angeles – I thought of my bedroom as a landing pad for NASA. It wasn’t long before I met Olive Kimoto, since we were both some of the most passionate people about dreampop, post punk, and shoegaze in Los Angeles. Everything was pretty automatic between us, including our deep deep appreciation of The Radio Dept. from Sweden. 

Then one day our mutual friend posted about my favorite video game, Final Fantasy 7, and Jess Rojas publicly displayed her appreciation for it. I thought to myself – wait a minute there’s no way, what a small world for someone to appreciate the same monumental video game as I, and then we found out she played guitar and sang, which inevitably led to her becoming Crescendo's lead guitarist. Final Fantasy 7 is one of those intricate storyline games that teaches people life lessons and pierces your heart to inspire you to do great things. It's never a coincidence that if you’ve played the game, you’re incredibly ambitious or considerate. I've met nothing but powerful people who have had the chance to play it.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (any new releases, tour, etc.)?
Gregory: It's been a huge labor of love. I mean obviously our sophomore debut, which is kind of another freshman debut since we didn’t collaborate on our first LP Lost Thoughts (because I didn’t know the team then) just came out on 2/19. Brooklyn Vegan actually released our national tour schedule for March, and we will be performing at 4 music festivals so far – SXSW Official Showcase, 35 Denton, Treefort Music Festival, and DreamGaze Music Festival. There are dates in between each festival, as well, for intimate viewing with our label mates BROTHERS IN LAW from Italy, who are unmatched live!

Europe is already in the works; we’re confirming music festival dates right now before we head to our label’s motherland, Italy, to be with our friends Be Forest, Brothers In Law, and Welcome Back Sailors to tour the country and the rest of Europe.

As far as new releases go, I mean that’s completely up to the general public. If the music is enjoyed and they want more music, then that’s something we possibly can make a reality. However, I would never put myself in a position where I could let people down, so for now Unless is the only release confirmed to date.

Olive & Jess have been working on their new project UNBLOOM and will be making a debut at a music festival I co-founded with Jared of Balms in San Francisco (another iconic dream/gaze band) called DreamGaze Music & Arts Festival, it will be in Los Angeles for 4 days between 3/31-4/4. The unveiling of the 25+ band bill with artists from all over the world goes live along with the limited presale. Confirmed headliners publicly released are PART TIME & Brothers in Law. On top of full-time school & work schedules, we're lucky to get any sleep, which has inspired songwriting & festival designing!

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
Gregory: I mean we certainly do our best to work with all the artists in our community that fall under those categories. We all go to each other’s shows or play together, or just hang out late at night post-show and get food or whatever. The relationship is very reminiscent of local music lovers who all support each other and create a family of friends in the streets of their city. Time is very constrained based on all our work schedules and shows/rehearsals, so it always feels great to be with all the bands and friends. It's one of the best support systems I've ever been blessed to be a part of.

I personally listen to a ton of music from all sorts of genres, however we’re happy to fall under any categories the listeners decide. Being labeled as "DreamGaze" has been consistent through all the premieres and press. However, based on the beats per minute of our songs including the drum parts, we certainly make it a goal to inspire listeners to dance and disappear from reality as well via space travel. DreamGaze Space Dance! Even falling in love is encouraged. I've been so engulfed in romanticism in our songs, however the outcome is actually the opposite; I ended up falling in love with building shows in my community and creating a music festival and shows where the bands and the people that go can grow infinitely. My love for romanticism has transitioned into my love for the world and music.

I think genres for music are a great way for listeners to find more of what they love right away, so if you could list a bunch of dream pop gaze acts in a playlist, I would be so grateful to play that playlist in my room all day, I'd say WTSH and DKFM do a great job at curating that for the radio. Been listening for years now.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
Gregory: Oh man, so inspirational. It's seriously because of all the heavyweights and the fans that I would consider the genres in this discussion to be on the growing high tide of music genres. Years ago I would play shows with projects before Crescendo that were definitely dream pop & gaze oriented, and the timing just wasn’t right. I always felt like I was by myself in it because at the time other genres were more popular. Now at the shows that we play at or go to it is widely appreciated and well received.

Just off the top of my head my favorites are: The Smiths, The Radio Dept., The Cure, Joy Division, New Order, Craft Spells, Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils, My Bloody Valentine, Be Forest, Brothers In Law, Balms, Drab Majesty, Marble Arch, Part Time, Deerhunter, Foliage, Ablebody, Night Shapes, Jaysom, Bellavista, Vision, and The Drums just to name a few. I listened to these artists daily. However that’s just on this side of the genre, I explore tons on Soundcloud and YouTube... I highly recommend the newly discovered GENTS from Copenhagen.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Gregory: Fender Jazzmaster, Fender Twin Reverb, Hardwire Ambient Verb, Boss DD-20 Giga Delay.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
Gregory: We'll take the demos into our producer John Kunkel’s (of The New Division) studio. We'll track all the instruments first, then do vocals. I recommend this man to any artist looking for a top shelf solid record production, he is an absolute work horse and can translate all your thoughts into a reality.

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway; how do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all?
Gregory: Ultimately we're all in control of our fate. I'm grateful for the blessings we've received from god, however if you want to change the world you can, you just gotta do it is all. If there was ever a time for dreampop, post-punk, and gaze, it’s right now. There's a revolution happening, and were all doing everything we can to make it stay. I dedicate my life to be able to go to a bar down the street from my home and walk in to hearing my favorite music playing from artists mentioned above.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
Gregory: Honestly I have no idea what’s happening. We're grateful for all the work our label WWNBB has done and continues to do, they are so dedicated I can hardly bear it. However hard work whether you’re DIY or have a label, will always find success in any circumstance.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
Gregory: Vinyl is certainly the best format, with FLAC and WAV's right behind for me. Vinyl is incredible in so many ways, I have LP's hanging all over my bedroom and home.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
Gregory: Way too many to name, however let’s start with The Smiths & The Radio Dept. It goes beyond dreampop, gaze & post punk.

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
Gregory: Always be considerate of others, acknowledge kindness and hard work, and I work desperately hard to make my mother proud and to protect her. She's the most important person in my life. Life is about making life better, I'm obsessed with growth for the entire universe.