Alex Gonzalez, more commonly known under his stage name ‘Spoken Bird’, is back with another solid installment in his panoply of cutting edge tracks with Liquid Soul Mantra. After 6 years in the mix, 28 year old Gonzalez is undeviating in releases that are growing in popularity throughout the future sound arena. Gonzalez has made a lot of advancement in his sound composition from earlier releases while continuing to manage his unique statement bass. He began djing parties in his college town and a quickly noticed a hunger for experimental sounds in the local community, so he began throwing renegade events to create an outlet for those in want. Once his eyes were set on making music and producing original content, he joined a round robin work group compromising of artists such as Devin Kroes, Itsurite, Urple Eeple, and Mia Lolita where they shared material and constructively critiqued each other’s work.
Feeling more seasoned and inspired, he was then able to open up and share his music with others. While prolifically maintaining his solo endeavors, Spoken Bird also balances side projects ‘Lucid Solutions’ and ‘Triple Threat’ with friends and fellow artists Lazertooth and Elevated Mind. Along his journey there have been many stand out moments such as opening up for Polish Ambassador and Wildlight for a crowd of over 3,000 people and getting asked to perform at the festival that solidified his relationship with bass music, Symbiosis, in 2013. Fast forward a few years and the epic continues, with Alex’s newest chapter in the story of Spoken Bird.
This compilation highlights Gonzalez’s idiosyncratic style with distinctive bass lines, tastefully playful melodies, and pulsing composition. With his forward thinking sound design paired with a steady progression, this glitch hop collection will keep the energy high and the fairies moving. It was a pleasure to get to open up the space and detail a little more into the inner workings of this fresh EP release. Enjoy some inside perspective to the foundational mechanics and esoteric understandings of one of Afro Monks favorite new releases.
Exclusive Spoken Bird Interview
Can you lend us some clarity into the title “Liquid Soul Mantra”?
The name actually came from an old poem of mine, which sadly has been lost in the digital ether on an old hard drive that failed. Essentially though it represents my own connection with water and with constantly being in a state of flow. It connects with the idea that our bodies are simply a vessel and our souls are eternal able to flow from one container to the next like water. If you fill a cup with water, the cup is the vessel and the water is the soul, if you drop the cup and it shatters, the vessel may be gone but the water is still there, if you dry it up with a towel the water is now in the towel but if you wring out the towel the water flows out, its fluid and free.
As always I love the signature lazer bass. I like how your style notably advances but the bass lines and kits seems to remain intrinsic to your sound. Is this something you try to achieve intentionally or something that ends up happening on its own?
A little bit of both. I try to use a mixture of new sounds and old sounds, and I have a big library of bass patches, synths, etc that I have created over the years and keep coming back to because I love the way they sound, other times I challenge myself to make new sounds and push the envelope. A lot of it also has to do with the nature of the synths I use (A lot of Razor for Reaktor and Serum from XFER Records) and the kinds of sounds they tend to be good at making.
This is a very solid 3 piece release. Was this intended to be only three tracks or did it start as a single or the beginnings of a full length release?
It was actually a 4 track EP but sadly one of the tracks was an older one in a different version of Ableton, on an older computer and when I got my new macbook I wrote the other 3. When I came back to the older track [which I had managed to salvage from the failed hard drive I mentioned before] all of the patches and synths had reset themselves to the default synth sound so I basically lost everything. Instead of trying to redo all the sound design and synthesis I decided to just keep writing new songs, work on remixes for friends etc and just release this one as a 3 track EP.
Is there anything you might be trying to evoke in listeners through these new tracks?
My music has always been about painting pictures on silence with sound. Honestly I just hope that people can get lost in their own imagination or lost in the movement of their body on the dancefloor while listening to the music!
From the start to the final product, how long was the process for this collection of tunes?
I’ve gotten faster at writing over the years and especially after getting my first EP out, which took me a looooong time to get together and get released [2 years of going back and forth], I dedicated myself to writing for at least an hour a day and trying to really focus on getting songs completed. For this EP I would say that from start to finish the whole writing process took me about 3~4 months and then getting together artwork, release strategy, a record label etc was another 3~4 months.
It’s hard for me to call, but I think I would have to say that “Moments of Clarity” stuck out to me most. All of the tracks embody a very bouncy, playful spirit, but MoC really paints a vivid picture with a banging lead verse, beautifully arpeggiated melody, and then to a glitchy, atmospheric break down. Can you give us any insight into the influence behind the title? a little bit of the process behind making it? Personal connection to it?
At the time I was going through a lot in my life, just kind of stressing out about student loans, finding a place to live, not having a fully stable relationship/being in a long distance relationship, struggling with the decision to quit my job and switch to working part time so I could focus more on writing music. Then it kind of hit me one morning, when I got into an argument at work with my boss and decided right then and there that it was time to quit and start focusing on music. I was so frustrated with everything and with working for someone else and not having enough time to work on my true passion, music, that it was kind of a moment of clarity for me. I put in my 2 weeks the next day and almost immediately found a part time job working 20 hours a week with extreme flexibility and 4 day weekends to go play gigs and write new music. It really marked a big shift for me, and I was super inspired after quitting my previous dead end job, so after putting in my 2 weeks I went home and began working on Moment of Clarity which was actually the fastest song of the EP to be written (from start to finish it took me 3 days which is the fastest I have ever completed a song).
As for the song-writing itself, I actually took a lot of inspiration from listening back to eDIT’s Crying Over Pros, hence the glitchy break down.
Could you shed some light into the assembly of your works? Take us into a day in the studio with Spoken Bird. Where does it start, how do you push through stagnation, how do you know when a piece is done?
I don’t really have a typical day in the studio as for me the inspiration always hits at different times and for different reasons though lately I’ve been noticing a trend of either getting inspired super late at night when I am coming back from a gig, etc and writing music into the wee hours of the morning, or getting really inspired right after waking up, taking a shower and drinking a cup of coffee.
Essentially though, when I get inspired I will open up Ableton and usually start with a melody or chord progression I am hearing in my head, and then build from there, usually adding rudimentary drums, and then a bass line to fit the chord progression, which will usually be super simple at first, and then once I have the notation for the bass line down I will go back in and tighten up the drums, make them more intricate, move kicks and hihats around to better fit the groove, etc. Then I will go in and add automation and different bass sounds to the bass line to start getting the signature “Spoken Bird” lazer bass sound. From there I will start adding more melodic elements like pads, stabs, ear candy, etc.
I think a big part for me as well is knowing when to drop a track or when to push through. A lot of producers talk about the idea of knowing when to stop polishing a turd, which is true, if you polish a turd, it’s still a turd at the end of the day. So you kind of have to know when an idea just isn’t good and to move on to something else.
With that said, I also think it’s important to know when to push through and keep writing. Sometimes I will have something I am just not feeling and will be thinking about scrapping it, and then I’ll take one element and change it to a different patch, or arpeggiate it, or maybe I’ll change the patch on a particular bass sound and all of a sudden BOOM! Now the track is banging and im feeling it and super inspired to keep writing.
I think it’s also important to know when to take breaks, give your ears a rest, or just simply stop listening to the same half a bar over and over again trying to get it exactly right. As that tends to happen a lot haha, sometimes my roommates will be like, “DUDE! IF I HEAR THAT SAME HALF BAR LOOP ONE MORE TIME!”.
Do you have any plans for Liquid Soul Mantra? Are you hoping to open up the space for some more touring or shows or simply keep the bass kittens prring?
I’m hoping that some of the right people take notice of the new music and I can begin to get more shows, play some new festivals and just keep spreading the music to dance floors across the country, but ultimately I am happy to just get the music in people’s ears. If I can convert one more person into a bass music fan, I am happy 🙂
Alright my friend, any last words you would like to share with your fans or the community?
Love more, fear less.
If you believe it, then live it and be it or leave it be.
Spoken Bird – Liquid Soul Mantra