Meagan Noelle: Your music has been described as being highly influenced by industrial rock, and has a very edgy pop quality to it. What musicians have inspired this blend?
Garek: I’m a 90’s kid. So I grew up listening to Garbage, Marilyn Manson, Nirvana etc. I always gravitated toward the darker, grittier sounds and I feel like that’s something missing from today’s music. No one is really making Industrial music anymore so I thought I might as well do it myself. I asked a 13-year-old once if she knew what Industrial music was. She responded, “Is that like dustup?” I had to change my diaper after that one.
MN: What compelled you to move from the Midwest and into somewhere so fast-paced as New York City?
G: I wasn’t good with a John Deere and I didn’t want five kids immediately after graduating High School. I had always heard New York was one of the toughest cities in the world – and I was stupid enough to put myself through it. I lived in LA briefly when I was 18, so I had already done that. After I graduated from college (shout out to UW Madison!) I had to go somewhere bigger. And harder. Wait, are we still talking about cities…? Anyways, New York is where the best of the best come to “make it.” I knew I needed to be immersed in the best to see if I had what it takes.
MN: In what venues did you get your music career started?
G: Some of my first gigs were at gay clubs in and around New York. They were the only venues that would have me! I’d usually perform during drag shows. I take a lot of my cues from Queens here in New York. They’re the people that are really doing something innovative. The neo-Burlesque and neo-Drag community is something you can only experience in the underbelly of New York. It’s delicious.
MN: Describe your relationship with your producers. How did they come to help in the development of your music?
G: I’m so lucky to have fallen in with the producers that I did. Most people don’t know, but I started as an intern at a music production house. It’s called Deetown Entertainment and it’s where I record all of my material. The fact that I started as an intern, and not as an artist, allowed the producers to get to know me as a person. So many “artists” come through here and they’re handled with baby gloves. I never got that treatment. I was busy emptying their garbages, scrubbing their shit stains and making them popcorn.
“Save The Queen” was a throw-away assignment for a TV show I had never heard of. The show wanted a “poppy-industrial-Trent-Reznory” song, and Bryan Spitzer, the producer that did the music for “Save The Queen”, knew I liked that kind of music. So, he let me have a go at it. I wrote it with the producer I was interning with at the time (Alana Da Fonseca) and when everybody heard the song they were like, “Oh shit, this is actually pretty good. We wanna do more songs with you.” So, that’s how it started. I did a few more songs with them (and have been working with them ever since), did a music video for “Save The Queen” and here we are. It all sort of snowballed after that. Bryan was the guy that gave me the sound; Alana was the producer who allowed me to use my voice.
MN: What is your perception of the world, and how does this pertain to the music that you write?
G: Jaded. I’m a bit cynical. The glass could always be more full, but I do try to focus on what’s beautiful in the world. And what I think is beautiful doesn’t always align with others’ perceptions of beauty. I think obscenities can be passionate. I think mistakes are a blessing. I’m a very sensitive kid, so I get hurt often and easily, which makes for interesting content/material.
In my search to get to know you as little more as an artist, I noticed you also fuel your creativity into poetry and painting. Are there any particular literary or artistic figures that you draw inspiration from?
I love Sylvia Plath. I’ve had the same copy of her “Collected Poems” since I was 13. I used to dog-ear all the pages/poems that were my favorite, but when the entire book is dog-eared it sort of loses its significance. Her poems have made my jaw drop on several occasions- “neglected as a pig’s backside” “the grasses unload their griefs on me as though I were God.” I mean, c’mon. She’s brilliant.
What themes can we come to expect in the other tracks on “Take the King?”
I didn’t set out with one concept or theme in mind, but it’s been interesting to see Take The King evolve as an album. I’ve been working on it for almost 2 years now, and plan on releasing it incrementally when the opportunities present themselves. The reemerging themes are the exploration between the masculine and the feminine- what that means to me and the world. I was always really uncomfortable (as most young boys are) with the feminine side of my personality. And a large part of that was that society taught me that real men carry guns, drive trucks, don’t cry and squelch any sort of curiosity. Introspection was unnecessary, and even an appreciation for art and culture was something that real men/boys weren’t interested in.
As an adult, I’m trying to figure out and appreciate myself as a whole being, and that includes both the masculine and the feminine. That’s what “Save The Queen” is about; finding gifts and power in the feminine- something I had denied myself for so long. I also write a lot about mental illness- coping, embracing, denying, etc. Being ostracized comes up quite a bit, obviously. I’ve spent most of my life on the margins of society looking in, so a lot of the perspective is from the outside. It’s my individual reactions to certain things; I never try to speak for anyone else. My goal (and struggle) is to always be honest with myself, to speak my truth. And if it aligns with other people that’s great, if it alienates others that’s fine too.
It seems that the gay community is embracing you as a pivotal figure in the music industry. How do you feel about that?
It’s strange to me. I like to think music transcends any sort of sexual orientation or label. Rock ‘n Roll doesn’t care who you’re sleeping with, as long as you’re sleeping with somebody. It’s been important to me to be out as an artist; I’ve spent most of my life in the closet or trying to conform to other people’s standards. The minute I decided to commit to my art was when I gave all that up. Fuck that. Honesty is a huge component of my art, and in order to be honest I have to write about what I’m experiencing. Whether it’s as a man, a gay man, a white male, an American or whatever other demographic I fall in, in order to explore and grow through my music and art I have to confront and accept every aspect of who I am. I felt so isolated as a kid, because I allowed myself to believe what people around me were saying. “Gay is bad, gay is gross, gay is evil and all that other B.S.” If I can reach just one person and save them from that experience, I will consider everything I’ve done up to this point a success.
Finally, I noticed that you quote Marquis de Sade in your tumblr and YouTube accounts: “My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others.” How has such a line of thinking applied to the path you have taken in life? What advice would you offer to those out there that might channel their personal ways of thinking via creative media?
The first time I read that it blew me away. It was like, “huh… so that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years.” It was just really inspiring to see Marquis de Sade so confident in his own voice- so uncompromising and committed to his vision. It’s something I try and emulate every day. I can’t speak for others in terms of what motivates them to be creative, but I would argue that some of the best art comes from a unique and personal perspective. In music I’ve always been attracted to those with their own distinct voices, lyrically and sonically. It would be so easy for me to write stupid pop-dance-let’s-go-to-the-club-and-get-drunk songs. But that’s not a reality of mine. I’ve grown so tired of that trend in music. What happened to staying home with an aged wine and a good porno?
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