It’s safe to say there aren’t that many artists in the world who can say they’ve been praised by the icon that is Sir Paul McCartney, however Los Angeles based indie-pop artist Gonzalla is one of them. Inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac, he’s most certainly making a name for himself stateside and with plans to head over to Europe in the near future, it surely won’t be long until he’s won over music fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Having recently premiered his new track “We Still Run”, he kindly agreed to this interview to chat John Lennon, song-writing and tour plans.
PW: Please introduce yourself.
Gonzalla: Hi, I'm Gonzalla aka Cody.
PW: How would you sum up yourself and your music up in a couple of sentences?
G: I'm a bit of a mixture of cultures really - slightly English, American, and Scandinavian because I've spent a lot of my time being surrounded by all three. My accent is beyond recognition because of it. My music is some form of guitar synth pop. Somewhere in-between Bon Iver and M83.
PW: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you? Have such influences changed over the years?
G: I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Damian Jurado, Jim Croce etc. They've somewhat shaped my song-writing in that I prefer story telling lyrics and they've taught me different ways of how it can be achieved. I've started listening to up and coming artists and artists in the charts over the past 6 or 7 years. It's open so many worlds of sound for me really and how technology has come a long way with it because I can use samples to include sounds I wouldn't have been able to use a while back.
PW: When did you first realise you wanted to be a performer? Was there an album you listened to or concert you attended that made you think 'yeah, I want to do that'?
G: I knew I wanted to be a musician when I saw an electric guitar in real person for the first time. It sounds cheesy but it was up high on the wall and just looked so cool.
PW: Is there a band or artist out there today who you might say you sound at all similar to or do you make a determined effort to just be yourself?
G: I've been told that I sound like Coldplay a few times but I'm not too worried about that end of things. When I write the songs it happens so quickly that there's not much thought other than "Does this sound good to me? How can I make it better?" If anything I'd say I sound like a newer version of classic singer-songwriters.
PW: Tell me about your latest single "We Still Run". Is there a story behind it?
G: I wrote “We Still Run” about a year ago in England on my $4 Farfisa organ in my previous apartment. It was quite a simple song really. It came together quite naturally because I wrote it with such a distinct message to tell. To me the lyrics are some of the most meaningful I’ve ever written. One of my good friends was going through a hard time and was in and out of the hospital quite a lot which conflicted her happiness as you can imagine. I wanted to help her through it and show her it’s not over till it’s over in a way. It’s one I’m very proud of and I hope it can help other people through hard times as well. It was great fun recording it as well, I was lucky enough to record it with Turin Breaks who are fantastic. It’s been one of my best song-writing & recording experiences so far.
PW: How easy/hard do you find the song-writing process and who/what most inspires you?
G: It varies most of the time, it can be easy and quick or it can be difficult and take nearly a year to finish. Thankfully it's usually quick though, like 30 minutes to an hour. A lot of artist inspire me to write new material, it's just a matter of if I feel moved by the particular song. If I do, I usually want to try to write something equally as moving.
PW: How does it feel to have had your song-writing praised by Sir Paul McCartney?
G: It's so surreal! He's just such a legend and it all happened within an hour of writing with him. It's really empowering and reassuring in a way that tells me I must be doing something right with my music.
PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why?
G: “Imagine” by John Lennon. It changed the world in such a massive way, everyone understands what he's trying to say and it’s so rare that a single song can move that amount of people in such a strong way.
PW: Is there an album or EP in the works?
G: Yeah, there’s an EP coming…
PW: What's been your favourite live performance to date?
G: Probably our first headline show in Liverpool, England. It was packed and the crowd was so responsive and attentive to our songs. It most definitely was the best crowd we've had in my opinion.
PW: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
G: The village Underground in London. I've seen a few bands perform there and it just has the coolest vibe I've witnessed in a venue, even though it's not that big.
PW: If you could share a stage with four other bands or artists, who can be living or dead, who would they be and why?
G: John Lennon, Prince, Michael Jackson, and James Vincent McMorrow. I just love all of them to bits.
PW: What are your touring/performance plans for the rest of the year? Will you be playing any festivals this summer or just focussing more on your own shows and getting your name out there?
G: We will be playing LA a lot and trying to make it over to New York and London. I'd expect to see us do a small tour along those lines but no festivals yet.
PW: Are there any plans for you to head overseas and play in Europe?
G: It's in the pipeline!
PW: What are your thoughts on social media and do you agree that it's necessary for bands and artists today?
G: Social media is great. I love it, I'm always on it. It's put me in touch with so many talented people and people who have had an impact on my career and life. It bring fans so much closer to artists than ever before and it quite beautiful in that sense. Yes definitely, it's expected for artists to be active on all social media platforms and who doesn't want to be close with their fans?
PW: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
G: More releases and live shows with the new band mates. I’m really looking forward to playing with these guys live for the first time.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist and with that in mind, whose career would you most like to emulate and why?
G: It would definitely be to inspire people in some sort of way. If my music moves people, I feel like I've done what I set out to do and that’s to get a message across. It would be great to emulate John Lennon's career; he put so much art into this world and inspired so many people. I'd love to do that.