Week in Pop: Ess Ford, Janice, Terri Terri

Sjimon Gompers

Celebrating Stockholm pop icon Janice; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Ess Ford

Ess Ford & Gunior deliver sounds, sentiments & vibes for the new year; press photo courtesy of the artists.

From Seattle’s Snuff Redux camp, 2017 came to a close with the surprise release from Ess Ford & Gunior with Quarter Cent that offers up the immediacy that visceral purveyors of audio arts desire & crave. The whirlwind of confusions brought about with the erosions of social & political integrity & stabilities saw the scrappy underground sects creating some of the most astounding aesthetics imaginable. In the face of an era where insurmountable adversity & chaos reigns in the fields of public/civic discourse, the international legions of artists challenged themselves & the corrosive state of the status quo in a push to create concepts & constructs that had never before been formed. Tried & true conventions were cracked for the sake of starting something new & fresh that could possibly be a beacon of light by which to guide us all through this epoch of what can feel like perpetual night without the reprieve of dawn.

Quarter Cent. is a record that emerges out of the instability of 2017/2016 that exhibits a heart-aching form of earnest, tear-smeared expression from the most emotive corners of the heart. The title track is your lead into the album where electric resonating hums guide you to the ballad of “Always Blue” that sends out some space-blues that is the sound of what happens when your intergalactic pod runs aground in an earthbound crash-landing. A record that also eulogizes the loss of Lil Peep, of whom Ford & friends were close to in the final days; the divide between the world we know & the dimensions of the unknown are illustrated on the beautiful “Credits at the End of Life” that mixes phone messages & cinematic art-house styles. Every chord & restrained note exhibited elicits an echoing response in the listener’s own faculties, as Ess & Gunior pay tribute to the aforementioned fallen “Bad Boy” with a good heart that raises a glass to the infinite heights of eternity.

The solemn hymns continue their slow burn on “Chameleon” where an ode to ever-changing entities are arranged with an electric-aura ambiance that hums ahead to the understated rhythm & synth beats of “Blue Smoke x Ef” that rides into the deep hues of an azure atmosphere. “Burnt Out Basement” finds the team joining up with Ralph from Siq Fux with a lullaby that emerges from the most humble & homely undergrounds with an iconic Laura Palmer line on the Seagraves collaboration “Arms Bent Back” that rolls with an earnest sense of urgency. Rolling waves of west coast vibes are heard on the auto-tuned desire & passion pronouncements displayed on “Once” that bridges the deep forest green of the PNW with the street-beat & scenes of Los Angeles (where Ford spent some time in 2017 from May 1 to August 1) The cycle is completed on “Lasting” where Ess Ford & Gunior send out an anthem of heart & hope to ring forth deep into 2018 that offers a promise of uplifting inspiration to all who hear it’s expressive vocals, keys & rhythms that ride out with a melancholic purpose & passion.

Ess Ford took some time to share the following insightful & exclusive reflections all about the new album Quarter Cent. that they titled:

Post-Spliff

All I ever needed was immediacy. That is what I think at least, from my seat, at the Capricorner. This need to start and to keep going and to not stop and to always know whats right (things may always be wrong) and when to say the song is done.
This sense surges through each season, and meets me every December, reminding me of everything else I surely must have missed…

(The Wasted Time And Energy // Passion: Misused—Misunderstood. And, Once Again Misguided. It is OKAY. “Songs” To “Write” Person T0 “BE” Or Not “Breathe.”
So Many Questions And Mistakes…just like writing seven instead of eight.
Happy New Year, I’m Glad You Are Here.

Everyday is a whirlwind. A hurricane. A blackout.
Like a bullet in a beehive…information spills with fake blood from my eyeballs.

An intimate moment of reflective pause with Ess Ford; photographed by Austin Ford.

And everyday erodes. The mind suffers from punctures.
My heart. It just hurts for so many souls.
Souls in the stars, I wish I could share my love more fully with them all.
And let them know they are thought of, and missed and remembered when the golden moment arrives…and the words seem to write themselves.

———

I lived in LA from May first through August first. That time was spent with my best friend and brother Fish Narc, who was making beats for the hip hop group GOTHBOICLIQUE and had begun a working relationship and friendship with Lil Peep, who was already a big name. Fish and I worked for the artist Gab3 during this time, combining a blend of live guitars in the vein of My Chemical Romance, Blink 182 and so on with trap drums. I used this time in LA to run in the sun, and try something new with different artists, and try to give a place other than Seattle a shot.

(To put it bluntly, only one of those things truly panned out in the end)

———

I first met Gus (Peep) on the last show of his penultimate tour; the last time I saw him was on the first day of his final tour. I learned so much from watching him; the simplicity in which he was able to create and convey his melodies and message was just so amazing to be around. He was a young man who was able to contain so much. I have been thinking about the times in the studio sitting on the couch with him after he had written and recorded moments before.
They still. Get stuck in my head
he was raw talent
he is raw talent
and he will be missed long beyond these words.

I wrote and recorded “Bad Boy” with Gunior (Garrett Ashbaugh) the day after learning about Peep’s passing. It came with an immediacy.
I used an acoustic guitar, a rototom, and a Casio keyboard.
It’s a short song but when I hear it, it feels full to me.

It was that day in mid-November that I decided to collect the best songs Gunior and I had made this year. The best songs came right after I moved back from LA with immediacy. I didn’t look back on doing lots of takes vocally, or worrying too much about the weight of my words…just letting the melodies find themselves on whatever instrument I happened to be playing. We always wanted to make automatic pop, which is what these songs are.

Ralph from Siq Fux took his time on his verse for “Burnt Out Basement”, but Seagraves, an artist I met in LA, wrote and recorded “Arms Bend Back” in a day. Daniel from Snuff Redux played guitar on that song, which was a crucial element of the song. He also helped engineer and play some of the synths with me for “Chameleon”, which we wrote in October. My guy Ef Mojica (True Artist), did vocals on the song “Blue Smoke”. He never had been on a song before, so I put him on the song! Gunior, the executive producer for these tracks, has been one of my best friends since middle school. He has come a long way this year especially, and has become a true student to his work.

His diligence—and sometimes stubborn attitude like mine—has helped me find new ways to express myself in the moment. Thank You Goon.

Behold the Ess Ford & Gunior’s visuals for “Bad Boy” that find the artists traveling deep into the lush green forest of the wooded Washington state turf from their youth.

Listen to more from Ess Ford via Soundcloud, the Snuff Redux release catalog via Bandcamp & the entire GOTHBOICLIQUE via Soundcloud.

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