When speaking to Gabe Fulvimar, who records under the moniker Gap Dream, about his songwriting process or his creative choices, he often breaks into fits of mischievous giggling, like he can't believe he gets to do music as a job and, more amazingly, that people want to talk to him about it.
He does this when describing his original plan to cover the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray,” for Burger Records’ White Light/White Heat tribute.
“I was going to do something kind of sneaky, I shouldn’t delve too far [into it], but I was going to be a brat about it and I decided not to,” he says. “It was either I tear down 'Sister Ray' and completely rewrite it or I was going to make it a three minute pop song and expose it for how naked it was.”
He chose to tear it down. The result was an inhuman, and ultimately scene-stealing version of Lou Reed's degradation anthem.
As his body of work makes plain, Gabe Fulvimar will always choose to reinvent over revisiting previously covered ground. Though his career is hard to qualify or quantify, the anticipation of his next move adds another layer to the enjoyment of his inventive, honest sound. The zigzagging experimentation that Fulvimar pursues – as Gap Dream, as a guest on the songs of his Burger Records label mates, and in his newly self-released synth instrumental project, Warm - does not lend itself to tidy description, a requirement in the blogosphere, where attention spans are short and memories shorter. If ready made blurbs and snappy verbiage are grist for the content thresher, then Fulvimar's disparate output is the kind of thing that can gum up the works. Fulvimar happily uses this to his advantage, emerging anew on each subsequent outing. Each time he arrives with additional knowledge. Musically, to borrow a phrase from Lou Reed, Fulvimar is growing up in public.
Hearing is believing; Shine Your Light, Fulvimar’s second outing as Gap Dream shimmers with EDM ambitions.
“I was getting really excited about the [fuzz] tones I was getting out of the guitars,” he says. “Then, when it became thing where the fuzz tones were sounding really thick and rich. That’s when I started thinking ‘let’s make a thicker synthesizer patch'.”
Though the synths have been around since the self-titled debut, Shine Your Light puts them on blast. This sharp departure from the garage rock standard that informed the debut speak to Fulvimar’s desire for dynamism.
“What’s the point in trying to do something if you’re going to do the same thing over and over again?”
The albums in Fulvimar's discography are separated by leaps and bounds. The musical distance between the first Gap Dream album, self-titled, and Shine Your Light is matched only by the distance between Shine Your Light and Warm, which shows another side of Fulvimar, altogether. Brimming with synth and free of any garage rock underpinnings, Warm sounds wholly different than Gap Dream. The driving instrumental beats convey an urgency that Gap Dream, with Fulvimar's disgruntled lyrical voice, does not convey.
Now, as winter bears down on his native Cleveland, Fulvimar is enjoying temperatures more fit for human habitation in Fullerton, CA and he’s taking in more than just sunshine. He’s also basking in the acclaim for his sophomore album. His farthest reaching release has been making the rounds to favorable reviews. With plans to take his act on the road in March, he is enjoying the down time while it lasts.
Fulvimar made the move West just over a year ago, but to hear him ruminate on being “stoked” about a finding a sound to match a “vibe,” it would be easy to mistake him for a Cali lifer. It's not quite clear if this is due to a year of immersion or if he's one of those natural Californians who happened to be born in the wrong place, but speak with him for even a short amount of time about his music and it quickly becomes apparent that his ever-casual language belies ambition, seriousness, and dedication to the execution of his vision.
Most media coverage of Fulvimar paints him as something of a Burger Records mascot, living in the industrial complex behind the Burger Records storefront. In addition to detailing how Shine Your Light came together, his press materials focus on his unorthodox living arrangement. It’s as good a hook as any. Interviews with Fulvimar published in the last year all seem to mention it. Fulvimar seems to bristle, if only a little bit, at the standard account of his experience as a California resident thus far.
“They focus more on me seeming like a [sad] old loser, living in [storage] instead of talking about the music,” he says, laughing.
It’s easy to romanticize his living situation, to cast Fulvimar as Burger Records’ ever present spirit animal, when considering all the great music that has come about in the past year from Fulvimar being in the mix at Burger Headquarters: In addition to Shine Your Light and his contribution to the Velvets tribute, there is also his dreamy duet with King Tuff on Adult Swim's Garage Swim compilation, and more in the pipeline.
For his part, Fulvimar seems happy to embody the lovable goofball persona foisted upon him, so long as it affords him a venue for his creativity. In one of his promotional photographs, he playfully brandishes a switchblade, a Burger Records promotional pin prominently featured on his denim vest. In the other he floats on a raft, carefree in boots and jeans. Living at the Burger Records headquarters, Fulvimar has turned a recording contract into a full blown lifestyle. Coming from a living situation in Cleveland that included his own apartment and a more blue collar schedule, Fulvimar found it hard to adjust to sharing his time and space, initially.
“At first, I minded everyone having a key to my bedroom, essentially,” he says, “really, it feels more like a living situation [like] when I had roommates.”
Though he resists repetition in arrangement and instrumentation. It’s easy to find a lyrical through line in Fulvimar’s Gap Dream output. His words are simple. They speak to an appreciation of small pleasures (“My new brown boots inspire me to strut”), prolonging the high (“Quick before your nose begins to drip/allow the heart to take another sip”), and indicting anyone who blocks his path with bullshit (“‘Cos you’re the kind of girl that wants to kill all my time/you always want to talk, but you got nothin’ on your mind”). Fulvimar is up for just about anything, but the inherent hassle that comes with anything worth doing makes it hard to remain open to what may come.
“We all get in our own way,” he says. “Any problems that I have are almost always of my own making. That’s just the thing, it’s hard to tell when you’re making problems. It’s hard to pay attention and it’s hard to stay positive.”
The deepest insight into Fulvimar's need for dynamism and reinvention above all else comes from his press bio, specifically from what is omitted. That omission is his involvement with the Black Keys’ first album. Though Fulvimar's time with the Black Keys isn't mentioned anywhere in the press materials, it's right up in the top results when searching his name. It’s hard to ascertain his level of involvement with the Keys, but it’s telling that it doesn’t come up in conversation. In a followup email exchange, Fulvimar is not quite forthcoming about his involvement with the band. Was he a member?
“Kinda. I quit cuz it wasn't my thang :),” he writes, “I stopped coming to practice and Pat [Carney] was like 'You wanna quit?' and I was all 'yeah'.”
Musically, Gap Dream is miles away from the Black Keys, but an artist with less vision might use the experience to leverage access and exposure, especially in the webcentric media circles in which Gap Dream coverage tends to run.
“I just think it would be cheesy and I'd rather gain an audience on my own instead of being all 'hey, everybody, I was kind of in the Black Keys. You like them, right?'”
It speaks to Fulvimar’s desire to succeed on his own merits. Success, for Fulvimar, seems to be the opportunity to do it at all.