June 22, 2014 by tonetribune
Imagine a world not of time or of space, but of sound. These sounds manifest in your mind’s eye as imagery. The images conjured up play together to form scenes that are projected in your brain. You enter a state of cranial cinema, where your view otherworldly happenings in color and motion.
You find yourself whisked away from the near peril of a Martian showdown on a mirage-laden landscape and plunged into a liquid landfill just in time to view an underwater Lost Sunset.
When you return from these mind bending odysseys you may ask yourself, who is the conductor of this mystery mind-train? Where is my next stop? The answer may just birth some new questions as you enter… Gold Dust Lounge.
As you enter this exotic realm of glittery noir doom, you make your way to the Time Warp Tiki Bar to sip on a sultry pulp cocktail and order up a large plate reverb of Spaghetti Western.
As you finish your meal, you hear an alluring rhythm and transient melody coming from the smoky stage. You watch the strange characters in the room lurch onto the dance floor like spiders with freshly disrupted webs and the whole little shadow play emulsifies in your retinas and eardrums, enslaving you to the music like an undead Haitian hallucination.
When the band takes intermission, you find yourself skulking to the backstage green room like a spy avoiding a spotlight. You have to meet the maker of this transdermal, skin-o-matic masterpiece and to your relief, he is happy to oblige…
Pleased to make your acquaintance Mr. Russell Mofsky, I just want to ask you a few questions…
FS: Tell us a little about the genesis of Gold Dust Lounge. Your beautiful guitar work now sits on top of a myriad of eclectic instruments, played by amazing, skillful musicians from around the globe. Did it start with just you, your Jazzmaster and the Miami landscape?
RM: Yes, Gold Dust Lounge started with me, my Jazzmaster, and the Miami landscape. I grew up in and around Miami and had just moved back here after almost fifteen years living in Boston and NYC.
FS: Speaking of Miami, you seem to be a musician who soaks up the vibe around him. How big a part does the culturally rich, metropolitan environment and beautifully serene, ocean sunset play in your music?
RM: I’ve always been influenced by landscape, the great outdoors, as well as the places I’ve lived and traveled. The South Florida sky is like a Technicolor panorama all the way to the horizon over the Atlantic Ocean. This epic landscape has influenced me since I was a kid growing up two blocks from the beach.
FS: Instrumental music is an amazingly underused format in live and mainstream entertainment. This has always baffled me, because it is multi-purpose music, without verbal communication roadblocks. It can be in the background or you can totally immerse yourself in it. Is this what attracted you to the medium?
RM: I’ve always been drawn to the music first. When I was a kid riding in the backseat I would listen to the music before I paid attention to the lyrics. I grew up writing songs with lyrics and I still write songs with words when they come that way, but the music always comes first for me. I’ve always loved pure sound like wind, rain, traffic, conversation, etc. I’m also really drawn to ambiance. I agree that instrumental music seems like a direct and unencumbered route to the imagination. As niche genres grow and spread around the Internet, I think there is a lot of opportunity for instrumental music. Tycho, for instance, is a band that makes some amazing instrumental music. Early Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada were big influences.
FS: You have the amazing ability to be musically polymorphic, but there is definitely a Gold Dust Lounge sound. There is an overwhelming sense of freedom in your music, almost as if you could just meander off into the stratosphere, yet you always stay within the song’s scene or mood. How much of your recorded music is improve if at all?
RM: I must confess Fletcher–I have a hard time playing something the same way twice. This has been both a blessing and a curse throughout my life. That being said, my tunes typically begin as improvisations when I’m sitting on the couch messing around. Sometimes they evolve from whatever I happen to be practicing at the time. While improvisation is pretty central to what I do, once a song emerges I respect the boundaries it represents. So, while intros, endings, and solos are often improvised, I’ll respect the form, arrangement, and mood of the song. Sometimes though, I’ll get bored with an arrangement and make a new one up on the spot. If you listen to Wynwood Bootleg, our live album, there are some spots where you’ll hear me shout out instructions mid-song. Sometimes I’ll radically shift the tempo of a tune or rearrange sections on the go. That’s fun and keeps you on your toes.
FS: I used the word “scene” in the previous question, because your music paints vivid pictures in one’s mind and sets them in motion like little movies. Does your music often stem from a visual experience or is it the other way around?
RM: Someone once told me that my music is like a soundtrack to imaginary films. I love that idea! I usually start writing with an image or feeling as a jumping off point. Sometimes I’ll write with specific people or places in mind. I like to create an evocative mood when I make music. While I don’t generally consider myself to be super visual, I like to make and listen to music that is cinematic and evocative–the kind of music that transforms a simple moment into something more vivid as if you are living your own movie.
FS: Let’s talk about your instruments. You have obviously championed the art of Jazzmastery. What attracted you to the Jazzmaster initially?
RM: I always dug Jazzmasters. My first exposure to them on an album was Sister by Sonic Youth. That album really captivated me. The truth is, I never found a Jazzmaster that really spoke to me until about five years ago. I love the range of effects you can get out of ‘em, like playing behind the bridge and the rad vibrato that can sound like a warped record, shimmering waves, and a million other things. Prior to getting my Jazzmaster, I played a Strat, a Tele, and a Les Paul Junior.
FS: Your tasteful use of effects perfectly supports your playing. I noticed from your Kickstarter video a brief snapshot of your pedalboard. I saw a Strymon Timeline on there that I definitely hear on the new album. Any secret weapons, favorite pedals, amps or crazy vintage gear you care to reaveal?
RM: Well now, I do love gear. My main amp is a 1969 Silverface Princeton Reverb that was modified by Harry Kolbe. I’ve had it since 1992 and it’s all over Lost Sunset. As for pedals, I’m a total delay addict. I still have and use my trusty Boss DM2 that I got in 1982 when I was eleven. I also really dig the Endangered Audio AD4096 analog delay. It sounds like an old school analog delay and has some really nice modern features such as an infinity mode that loops the repeats in a cloud of ambiance and you can step on the feedback switch for instant oscillation. For a super trippy effect, I’ll run multiple delays at varying rates at the same time. I really like the Seriously Special Twosome, a dual fuzz pedal by Blackout Effectors. It is just stunning. It does great sputtery, velcro fuzz. That’s what I use on the solo on the tune Humble Hill. Loopers also score pretty high in my book. I use a Boomerang III and a ZVex LoFi Loop Junkie.
FS: The new Gold Dust Lounge album, Lost Sunset, is coming to a theatre in you (the readers) very soon. Tell us a little about this spy-fi road-trip extravaganza and point us to where we can hear it and get it.
RM: Lost Sunset will be out in late May or early June. It’ll be available online, on CD, and on vinyl. I literally feel like I can die after having executed this recording. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, period. It will be the soundtrack to your summer, guaranteed. You can get it directly from me via the Gold Dust Lounge website or my Bandcamp page. You can also get it on iTunes and other online retailers. It won’t be hard to find.
FS: The future for Gold Dust Lounge is as bright and colorful as a Miami sunset. You have a large, supportive fan base, a successful Kickstarter campaign, licensed music for film and television and some incredible visual artists making your album covers and t-shirts. Anything else on the horizon?
RM: Well, there are a couple of very cool projects in the pipeline but they will remain hush-hush for now. (Join the Gold Dust Lounge mailing list to make sure you hear about things ASAP – sign up here.) I’m also going to take a novel approach to promoting Lost Sunset but the details aren’t finalized yet so I can’t reveal much. Perhaps it helps to cloak Gold Dust Lounge in a veil of secrecy to build intrigue and suspense. I can say that in the future, I’m looking forward to delivering my music in new, novel ways that go beyond simply releasing an album.