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Infidel Interview #99: Nexium

First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?

My name is Scott Gonzales, I am 26 years old and I currently reside around Atlanta, Georgia. How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?

There is a pretty big music community here in Atlanta however it's a little lackluster for niche genre's such as Dark Electro/Industrial. There are Goth Nights periodically at the Masquerade here in Atlanta, but the performers are usually goth DJ's, because of that, the local scene here unfortunately does not impact my musical creativity. What do you feel separates your music from the rest of the music in the Industrial music scene?

The band is from the United States, but with the first album had a more Dark/European vibe to it, mostly because of the influence from my counterpart at the time Stefan Lenz. As of now the last single we released back in March entitled, "Die!" was a more Dark/Synth Pop/Industrial song that at first listen, seems like it's going to be a happier song, until my vocals come in *laughs* then you really begin to hear it for what it is. I think the amount of diversity we have is definitely what separates us from the rest. What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes?

The lyrical inspiration for Noir, our first full-length, was actually a story told through my own eyes set in a post-apocalyptic world, at the time I had a lot of concerns and thoughts about the end-times (ignorantly), so I wrote this story through lyrics about a man on a journey to find God during the end of the world and even after surviving he wakes up and continues his search and begins to realize that amidst all of the destruction around him, he is the only one left living and that there is no God, but only himself, the story ends with the song Noir in which he does end up committing suicide. Our newest single Die! however was actually about a period I had gone through where I was getting bullied a lot in high school *laughs* it seems so petty to talk about this, but the concept behind that song was actually more of a reimagining of a lot of twisted thoughts I had about taking an extreme revenge on all of the people who wronged me growing up. To make a long story short, it was like my freshman year of high school and a buddy of mine and I were walking home from school and some senior had pulled up in his truck alongside us and asked if we had been mean mugging him and if we had a problem, he frisked us and pushed us around, walked off with some of our stuff, little bit of money and what not and after that happened I had remembered looking over at my buddy and saying, "You know, I really hope that dude fucking dies man, fuck that guy!" and ironically, January 2005, New Years Day, this kid and his cousin are driving home (speeding) drunk from a party, and they crashed right into a dumpster, everyone in the car lived except the kid who was bossing us around that day. Word got around and my buddy had informed me of the kid's name and we both kind of looked at each other with eyes wide opened like...what a coincidence *laughs*, kinda fucked up right (I don't believe in superstition)? Since then though I have been a strong advocate against bullying though on a more positive note.

Interview continues after this video, and all videos and pictures that come hereafter...

Industrial and Attitude seem to go hand in hand. With global war, civil unrest, injustice, and political revolution being primary musical themes that dominate your music, how do you feel nowadays about the current state of world affairs?

To be honest (and this is even more ironic) I used to be very right wing, a lot of my views still tend to lean more right than anything else (mostly because I believe in having a strong military force, I don't believe in abortions, being a veteran, the right side happens to do more for the veteran community than the left), nowadays, I am way to open minded and generally accepting of most people to even care about or even so much as talk politics with anyone. I don't believe we as mankind are really in control of what the end result will be for us when the time comes so I just don't really lose sleep over it anymore, the world as a whole in 2017 is truly a mess. What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?

More recently I have gotten heavily into preparing movie scores and taking on clients for such things. Mixing and mastering have also been among those things as well with the recent opening of my studio suite and completion of my Audio Engineering certificate (as of December 2017). I feel like in the next 10-15 years (give or take) I may eventually step down as a frontman from most of my musical acts and consider taking a step in more mentoring direction. I would love to be able to train and bring up and coming artists within the industrial and metal scene, something I wish people would have done for me, this way the cycle continues and genre's like this still exist.

When you first started making music, was there a particular sound or artistic/musical influence that you would say was your biggest inspiration to start pursuing the creative path yourself?

*laughs* Way too many. As much as I am a fan of industrial, I am also an avid listener of hip hop, extreme metal, alternatively, I listen to a lot of EDM, House, Techno, Dubstep, even some Pop and Ambient; I've always been a fan of musical composers like Hans Zimmer, Mick Gordon, and John Williams. When it comes to your musical self and your real-world self, would you say that there is a separation? Do you find yourself getting into a character or mindset when you create, or do you find your music is a representation of your day to day self?

Funny you should ask, I'm a pretty internal person, I think a lot and I like to identify myself, my thoughts and actions alike. Some people have told me that I have different personalities around certain people, on stage I do feel like I go into character a little bit depending on the genre, but more specifically, I almost feel like if I did create music within as many genres of music as I do (hip hop, metal, industrial), I feel like I'd probably suffer (long-term anyway) from multiple personality disorder *laughs*. Those are my personalities; storytelling (hip hop), aggression (metal), deep, philosophical thought (industrial). Are you musically self-taught? Or have you had mentors along the way to help you develop?

The first 11 years I have been mostly self-taught. Recently I took the opportunity to attend a school specifically designed around audio engineering and basic music theory to learn some of the many ins and outs of what I do. When it comes to composing music, do you approach things with a clear vision in mind, or do you prefer to let songs feel themselves out? Do you have any particular techniques or tricks you use to keep yourself creative and consistent?

Ya know, it's really weird. Normally I have this cloud of ideas that I pull from in my head that typically influenced by thoughts I have or music that I listen to, sometimes even down to words and phrases that I hear people say, and I create music inside my head based on those ideas and it pretty much creates itself from there through my fingertips. When it comes to making music it can be difficult to balance atmosphere, song progression, musicality, and excitement. Do you have any tricks, techniques, or methods that you commonly use to help your music sound coherent and engaging?

There are plenty of subtleties hidden within my music that are designed to keep the listener engaged, I was taught this in school to basically add little nuances here and there to 'tease' the listener into craving more, as far as what they are? They're usually blended in the background somewhere *laughs* if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret anymore.

Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two? What is your relationships with presets? When you make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Or do you do a fusion of both? Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music?

It really depends on the genre I'm working, recently as far as scoring for games and films, I tend to do a balance of the two. I craft my sounds when necessary, but I mostly tweak and warp presets or other sounds I find. When it comes to synth or keys I do create my own chord progressions and I utilize arpeggiators at times along with that. I do a fusion of the two as far as hardware and software is concerned, I feel its absolutely necessary, I don't like limiting myself to just one thing. I am an avid user of Native Instruments VSTs, sometimes Omnisphere, I do most of my composing out of Ableton Live as of the last 7 months. Live I usually use an Akai APC40 Mk II, my laptop, and a MIDI Controller. Do you ever find it difficult to balance the creative and technical aspects of musical creation? How do you strike the balance for the need to craft and tweak your effects and sounds, in contrast to actually just getting the song itself created with structure and melody? What sort of element of creation do you prefer, the sonic shaping or the song creation?

Not entirely. It has its complications here and there especially on the technical side, but I have enough people in my circle to answer questions for me and help out where I need it. Every sound or preset has to be tweaked in order to remain unrecognizable by the people who use the same software as you do so through changing up a preset maybe by using a frequency shifter to it, saturators, even adding compression or even certain reverbs (mixed a certain way of course) can really change the sound of a preset no matter what it is and make entirely different from the original one that everybody starts with; I do a little of both as far as sonic shaping and song creation mostly because I have to.

Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process?

*laughs* All the time actually, because every composition is different from the previous one, and I go into each song knowing that I'm going to create something new and fresh and probably some experimenting. Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?

*laughs* Yes! I have a planner that I literally have to write daily "To Do" lists down in because I'm so busy trying to balance being a good husband to my wife, living my life as a rockstar, and still maintaining relationships with my friends (or whats left of them), my family and fans. For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?

Nexium has actually yet to have a live show which is disappointing, however to answer that question in general, it really just depends on the band I'm playing with and the lyrical themes. In metal, I've been told I have a very aggressive and bold stage presence which attracts quite a bit of people. If I'm performing black metal, it will definitely be a show using stage props and lots of theatrics. For Nexium I envision it being a pretty dark show, I'd probably use some theatrics, light face paint, potentially a costume of some sort. When it comes to performing, what are your favorite sort of venues to play in, and what are your favorite areas to tour? If you could tour with any other band in the world who would it be and why? What are some of your favorite memories of touring?

Favorite places to play so far, would definitely be the Masquerade which I've yet to play at yet, I played a lot of venues in California to include a place called "The Pound" which is no longer around, played a ton of shows at Colorblind Studios, Red House Live, those were all solid venues. As far as industrial bands, a tour with Psyclon Nine would be dope, although I'm sure the stars would have to be aligned for that to happen, unfortunately I don't feel like very many tours happen amongst industrial bands as much as just mini east or west coast tours happen or one major festival somewhere in Munich, Germany. Industrial was really heavy in the 80s and 90s and more recently now in 2017 the crowd has really become lackluster and the genre, like I said, much more niche so tours are much harder to go on with bigger acts, nowadays it's almost based on a "who you know" kind of thing. I have also yet to go on tour.

If you could play any anywhere, with anyone, in the world, dead or alive, who and where would it be?

Right now, the late Tonya "Tza Drone" Pugh of Dismantled, Aerodrone, PRGRM, she passed away recently and actually composed the new single, Die!, and was in the process of producing the new album until her sudden passing. It was pretty heartbreaking to say the least. Aside from that, doing a show with Nero Bellum (Psyclon Nine) would be pretty sick, he has pretty much been my biggest influence for Nexium since the beginning. These shows would be amazing if they took place between the U.S. and Overseas, nowhere really specific. Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?

Every time I have an album come out, or a fan who reaches out to compliment me, or tells me how my music helped them, that is pretty much what keeps me going, that's what I live off of. It's not the money, the money is nice, but I approach this knowing that I may not make my money back right away or even so much as break even; the best form of support or gratitude, and this beats out any award, gold medal, album top 20, or anything you could ever give me, is someone telling me that my music helped them, or got them through a rough time, or that I gave them a piece of music they could relate to strongly, hell even preventing a suicide.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?

All sorts. From financial, to proper advertising/marketing, networking, getting shows, the list goes on. I tend to find my way out of each one though. Being an independent artist is no easy path though. Outside of Industrial music, what other genres could you see yourself composing music in? Or should I say, do you see yourself inspired by? Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity?

As I mentioned before, I listen to pretty much every genre of music except for maybe like...Country music, and I currently compose and make music between Industrial, Metal and Hip Hop music and even scoring. My collaborations are pretty extensive actually in all aspects, I've gotten remixes from Nero Bellum himself, Kristof Bathory (Dawn of Ashes), Grendel, Voicecoil, Assemblage 23, PRGRM, for the industrial side, in hip hop, Playboy the Beast, Twisted Insane, Kamikazi, King Iso, Melody Mercury, Charmae, Nomad1c, GrewSum, Cryptic Wisdom, and even Bizarre (D12-Eminem's old rap group). If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them? What sort of new bands have come out in recent years that have caught your attention? Is there any bands out there you see yourself, or would like to, remix or collaborate with in the future?

Honestly there is a metric shit ton. Every single artist I listen to on a regular basis is somebody I'd want to collaborate with *laughs*, I'm making my rounds as of now, so far I have collaborated with many of my musical idols growing up and then some, which not a lot of people can even say that they've accomplished that much is such a short amount of time...which is pretty dope. Promotion can be one of the most difficult things in the music industry. Do you have an agent that helps book shows and manage your online presence, or have you decided to trek it out without and mantle the reigns of the social media apparatus yourself? Is it difficult engaging the online world consistently and originally, or do you find it easy?

I wish I had an agent or a reliable individual that could do that for me *laughs*. I do all of my own advertising unfortunately which does get costly at the end of each month, funny thing is, I have actually gotten so good at it and accustom to it that I've been approached by bands and individuals alike that have asked me to be their manager! *laughs* I usually turn them down, it's not worth it for me what they would have to pay versus what I would spend on promoting them, it's pretty outrageous when I see the amount of money that goes into advertising and marketing alone each month, just so that people can turn around and hopefully buy my music or merchandise so that I can break even.

With your band becoming increasingly popular have you had any insider attention regarding label support? What's your thoughts regarding being independent music scene versus being part of a record label?

It's pretty funny actually, back in 2015 I sent Noir in to Metropolis Records who is like the premier and pretty much the only Industrial label in the U.S that does a pretty good job at marketing their music, and they turned it down. Ever since then it's pretty much been a constant grind, but where there is failure, shortly thereafter there is or will be success. I roll with the punches no matter how they come. I'm not really into label politics and contracts either, I pretty much make enough money right now to just market myself and any project that I'm involved in, and it's almost better that way; Independent versus Record Label is all personal preference really; do you like to grind and do everything yourself? Or would you rather the majority of your money be taken away by a label but have the targeted fanbase you want and proper advertising and marketing for your music? You can only pick one *laughs*

In an industry that is driven by sales, and consumerism, what are your thoughts on digital downloads (legal and illegal)? Do you feel that streaming and digital download stores aid the accessibility of music? How about music piracy? It obviously hurts sales in some regards, but it also boosts the access and distribution of the release which could lead to potential fans who do come to shows, buy physical copies of music, and get merchandise? Do you feel there would be enough turn around in that sort of system or are you firmly against file sharing?

*laughs* I can openly admit that back in the day, I literally pirated damn near every single album I ever owned, but if I ever found myself at a show I would always be buying merchandise from the band, shirts CD's of my favorite albums etc. Most artists hate the digital age now because CD's are becoming less and less relevant, (fun fact: CD sales have dropped significantly over the last 5 years while vinyl sales have actually surpassed CD Sales between 2015-2017) they're more or less just a form of, "Hey look guys, I'm a legit artist, not just going through an aggregator to post my music to iTunes!" It's basically a form of appearing "official" and yet independent artists still spend $500+ on CD's and sit on them unless they're playing shows, me? I can afford to thrive in this industry thankfully...for the time being, because of that, I don't have an issue with it, to me its like asking, "Do you want just the sandwich or would you like fries too?" (The CD is basically the fries, the main piece is the getting a hold of the music - i.e, digital downloads). If you notice, people around the world are becoming increasingly lazier, they don't want to buy anything anymore, people would rather pay $9.99 as a bill and listen to as much music as they want and sometimes without ever having to leave the confines of their own home or living space. As I mentioned before, lots of artists hate streaming because realistically we get paid like .0001 cents per play on our songs. Seems like nothing right? They do eventually add up, I can tell you from experience, however you're lucky if your royalty check hits $100 in 1 month *laughs*. On one hand I hate streaming because of that, on a positive note, streaming pretty much combats pirating because, as you may or may not know, sites like Spotify are actually free with ad's or pay $9.99 to be ad free, but you can have unlimited streaming. People most often just want to hear your songs, they don't care about buying it, the average person listens to music most often in their car or in the gym, that's really it. So what is the point of spending $9.99 one time for one album, when they could spend $0 or $9.99 monthly and listen to as many albums as they want? It's the incentives behind streaming that make it what it is, and it just is what it is (as redundant as that sounds). There is no controlling it, everything is becoming increasingly more and more expensive as time goes on, so a person's last concern is spending $9.99 on your new album when they could feed themselves with that. Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?

Being with my wife, traveling to the beach *laughs*, I'm a sucker for beach scenery, enjoying video games with friends and family (time permitting), and binge watching horror flicks on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu. Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?

If you have ever purchased, streamed or illegally downloaded my music to get your hands on it, thank you. You are the reason I'm able to do this. To your audience, please go and purchase, stream or illegally download any and all of my music *laughs* and tell me what you think, take a thorough listen, even multiple listens, I love meeting the people who listen to my work, thats the entire point of why I do this. *smiles*

Thank you for taking the time to step outside of your own world and come inside of mine; and if you read this whole thing. Message me I'll send you a little something *laughs*

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