Gothic Tropic interview with Cecilia Della Peruti

February 12, 2015

Gothic Tropic interview with Cecilia Della Peruti

Gothic Tropic has been carving out a reputation in the crazy
LA scene for years now since the release of their debut EP Awesome Problems
back in 2011.  The brainchild of the
insanely talented multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Cecilia Della
Peruti, Gothic Tropic have finally released a follow-up to Awesome Problems in
the form of the two-song single for Old Flame Records near the end of 2014 and
have announced an upcoming full-length album FASTorFEAST which you can read a
bit more about below.  There’s a little
something for everyone going on in Gothic Tropic’s deceptively simple sounding
music.  The psychedelic pop tendencies
are easy to pick out, and when combined with a perfectly formulated combination
of punk and garage rock, the result is an energetic but seemingly calm and
placid sound, Della Peruti’s vocals dancing like angels echoing through the caverns
of sound.  There’s an added element of
almost jazz like flourishes in the drums as well and Peruti’s ethereal vocals
drift above the bass and dissonant guitars that create the serene soundscape…  Gothic Tropic’s interesting to say the
least.  Initially a one-person band, in
the form of Peruti and a loop station, she booked some shows around the release
of Awesome Problems, assembled a group of people to perform the material in
2011, and Gothic Tropic has evolved from there. 
Refining and perfecting the dreamlike sound that they’re capable of
channeling so successfully, the single for Old Flame shows an even softer and
more contemplative side to Gothic Tropic’s sound, created for the first time by
a group of individuals and translated into a palpable experience of musical
transcendence.  There’s a link below so
you can check out some music for yourself, but I highly recommend just picking
up the single and the EP, reading the article and giving in to the inevitability
that is Gothic Tropic.
I know that the
band was kind of the brainchild of Cecilia Della Peruti, but unfortunately I
only just recently started listening to your music so I’m not super familiar
with the band’s lineup.  What’s the
current lineup in Gothic Tropic?  Is this
the original lineup or have you gone through any changes as far as that’s
concerned since you all started performing?
I had a couple shows booked a month before the Awesome
EP came out, so since I wrote that material on a loop station, I took
it around with me and started gigging by myself as Gothic Tropic.  Liv Marsico played drums on that EP in 2011,
and Daniel Denton was on bass.  Since
then, we’ve played with Lia Braswell, and conclusively Rhys Hastings now on
drums.  Daniel’s still on bass.  I’ve experimented with having a second guitar
player occasionally, but we decided it’s best as a three piece.  I was nervous I couldn’t handle all the
parts, but I just buckled down and got better ha-ha.
Are any of you in
any other bands right now or do you have any active side projects going
on?  I try to keep up with what
everyone’s up to but nothing beats getting the answers straight from the source
Rhys and I work as session musicians, so we’re always
playing with other people.  But no, I’m
not a partner in another project.  Rhys
is a partner in Lucy, and I love their sound, so we’re taking them on the road
with us for our Spring Tour in February. 
Daniel has played on other material, Chelsea Wolfe, others, and had his
own band Never At Night, and he’s always writing personal material.
Have you released
any music with anyone else in the past? 
If so, can you tell us a little bit about that here?
Awesome Problems EP is on New Professor Music, and our debut
LP is coming out on Old Flame Records this year!  I have a lot of freebees on SoundCloud, and
MySpace, believe it or not, that I’ve recorded over the years onto my phone, or
Garage Band; little sound clips and demos.
How old are you
and where are you originally from? 
I’m twenty six.  I was
born in New Jersey but was always bicoastal and permanently moved to Los
Angeles when I was eleven.
What was your home
like growing up?  Was there a lot of
music around?  Were either of your
parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely
interested/involved in music when you were a kid?
My mom is an opera singer and vocal pedagogue, and my dad is
a jazz musician and composer, so yes, always, ha-ha!  They met each other at the Metropolitan
Opera, my dad was playing in the pit and my mom was the season’s soloist.  I grew up taking formal violin, piano, and
vocal lessons.  I had to surrender too
many forest green velvet and lace dresses.
Do you feel like
the local music scene where you grew up played a very large role in shaping
your musical tastes or the way that you perform at this point?  Did you see a lot of shows or get very
involved in the local scene when you were a kid?
I started noticing the local music scene when I was
fourteen, I was going to school in the valley, and many of my best friends
lived around Hollywood, so I started out going to the Knitting Factory a
lot.  It was all punk, and I had a band
with Kirk Podell called The Cheats, who listening back now, are not bad at
all!  We played with The Rabies, now The
Shrine, and The Diffs, now Fidlar, so it’s crazy seeing everyone back in
roughly the same broad circle of music again ten years later.  Since high school I’ve branched out and tried
all kinds of music, literally everything, but something that always stuck with
me was a weird and dark guitar playing sensibility.  It’s just what I go to, even if I’m playing a
sunny song.
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?
Probably seeing my parents perform.
If you were to
pick a moment where things seemed to completely change for you musically or
your mind was opened up to the infinite possibilities that music presents, what
would it be?
When I opened Garage Band and started recording, I was in
the middle of art school, so I had to confess to my parents that I’d found
something better and that they’d perhaps wasted some time with me pursuing fine
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
get that?
Piano; it was in the house. 
I think the piano is more beautiful than guitar, or at least that it
exposes what I’m not capable of on guitar; but guitar is so fun.  Guitar came after piano, drums, flute, and
violin.  I’m horrendous at violin now.
What led to you
starting to write and perform your own music and when would that have
been?  Was that a direct result of being
given an opportunity to express yourself and create something of your own or
had that kind of always been an innate urge or need that you’ve had?

Probably sitting down at the piano when I was a kid;
Improvising is the only way I’ve done it, and I’m still that way, that’s how I
explore anything.  Then, I got into
guitar and improvising through a loop station (see our SoundCloud) expresses
the innateness.
What does the name
Gothic Tropic mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  It’s extremely fitting and kind of just
lodges itself in your brain from the first time you hear it.  Who came up with the name and how did you go
about choosing it?  Are there any close
seconds or runners up that you almost went with you can recall at this point?
I came up with it initially as play on words, and a working
title, but it ended up sticking. 
Actually, I first wanted to call my first solo project, which is what
this was, Sparkle Motion, but it was taken. 
I’m glad we’re not called Sparkle Motion anyway, I was in a parodical
mood when I was brainstorming names.  At
the same time, I knew that whatever I was going to make was going to be both
dark and light; which isn’t wise usually, but I hope it works.
© Bokeh Monster

Where’s the band
located at this point?  How would you
describe the local scene where you’re at right now?
We all live in Echo Park within walking distance from each
other!  The local scene has a couple
sub-scenes, so it’s hard to say.  We’re
friendly people, so we all have our hands in a few different pies, but it all
feels like a big basket of puppies to me, no separation at all between the
Do you book or
attend a lot of local shows or anything? 
Do you feel like you’re very involved in the local scene there?
I’m naturally on the languid side, so it takes a special
mood for me to want to go out and party. 
But when I do it’s always fun, and I often go out solo, because I know
I’m gonna run into friends.  I love
referring bands I like to venues I have relationships with, I do think
community is really important, and I always love helping friends’ bands from
out of town.  My house has become a safe
haven for a few bands up and down the coast, I like hosting.
Has the local
scene played an integral role in the sound, history or evolution of Gothic
Tropic, or do you feel like you would be doing what you are and sound basically
like you do regardless of where you were at or what you were surrounded by?
I think we would sound like this regardless, because I
honestly don’t think we “fit” in with the music scene here anyway.  To me, the local music scene sounds like that
washy sunny vintage sound, soft punk, strummy parts, very listenable in my
opinion, but I don’t think we sound like that. 
I don’t necessarily make music I want to throw on while I’m cooking or
having friends over or anything, it’s more about the live performance, I think.  I make music like I’m a deaf and blind dog
charging through a pile of leaves, I really have no reference for what I should
sound like.  Less method than people
Are you involved
in recording or releasing any music besides your own/Gothic Tropic’s?  If so, can you talk a little bit about that
I’m jamming with a friend for a possible other project, but
nothing to speak of now.  I do have some
stuff credited as “Cecilia Della Peruti”, in the form of demos for a film, or a
theme for a commercial or something like that, but not as a different
artist.  Just as a writer or mechanics
You have a sweet
combination of sounds going on in your tunes that seems to simply pull from
just about anywhere you want it to, which is a varied array of different tricks
that you’ve assimilated from a ton of places as far as I can tell.  Who are some of your major musical
influences?  What about influences on the
band as a whole rather than just individually?
All of us love artists like PJ Harvey, Cocteau Twins, Slow
Dive, stuff of that genre, and we bring our interest for felt progressive music
to Gothic Tropic, so when you hear the dark melodies, I think these artists
have influenced us a lot.  At the same
time, we also like Fela Kuti and sunnier sounding artists, so that comes to the
table too.  I think I’m the only one who
loves Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Rihanna, but we come together on that mid-pop
range of bands like Blood Orange or Little Dragon.  I’m constantly impressed when Daniel likes
something I think is too pop for his palate.
As I mentioned you
all have a really cool combination of sounds going on which leads me to my next
question.  Whenever I talk to bands for
Psychedelic Baby I obviously have to describe how a band sounds to a bunch of
our readers who have never heard them before, and not only do it in an
appealing way, but in an honest and descriptive fashion as well.  It can be an extremely daunting task to say
the least and I feel like I’m putting far too many of my own perceptions of
things in there.  How would you describe
Gothic Tropic’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before in
your own words?
Psych-Pop, Proto-Punk probably.
What’s the
songwriting process for Gothic Tropic like? 
Is there someone who usually comes to the rest of the band with a riff
or more finished idea to work out with the rest of you, or do you all get
together and just kind of kick ideas back and forth until you hit on something
that you’re interested in working on and refining from there?
Every song is different, but I’m always writing the topline
vox/guitar, and arranging the material. 
Daniel, for instance though, wrote the hook line for a track, “Teenage
Behavior”, which will be on Fast Or Feast, and I riffed off what he was doing.  It often happens that he comes up with a cool
bass line that gets me going on whatever I’m doing, and then Rhys will finish
it off with the right beat.
What about
recording?  I think that most musicians
can appreciate the time and effort that goes into recording and releasing music
when they’re finally holding that finished product in their hands.  But getting to that point though, getting
things recorded and sounding the way you want them to, especially as a band,
can be extremely difficult.  Even little
things like getting the recordings mixed and mastered like you want them to can
be a headache.  What’s it like recording
for Gothic Tropic?
It took a long time to record Fast or Feast because we
tracked with two drummers over a span of a year.  Originally, we were demoing the material with
Liv, then Lia, and now finally Rhys.  So,
even though the songs were already there, we had to dissect them starting from
the end, instead of the beginning, which was a first for all of us!  But the songs were played live, and then I
usually tracked a few layers of guitars, then vocals last.  I produced it pretty fast because I knew what
I was going for.  At the same time, I was
constantly learning how to produce a record, and wanting to implement new
ideas, so this was a huge learning experience for me.  Daniel and Rhys did a few passes during
mixing, and contributed a lot of valuable feedback before we moved on to
Do you all like to
take a DIY approach to recording where you handle things on your own time and
turf so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound with anyone
else?  Or do you like to head into a
studio and get someone else behind the board so that you can concentrate on the
music and getting things to sound the way you want them to from the start?
We didn’t really have a producer for this record, so I was
describing all the actions.  I’m not an
engineer so I learned how to communicate, and in the process became really
familiar with production.  Daniel’s recorded
full albums on his own, and they sound fantastic, so his input was welcome.  As was Rhys’.
Is there a lot of
time and effort that goes into working out exactly how a song’s going to sound
with the arrangement all locked down and airtight before you record, or you get
a good idea of what a song’s going to sound like while allowing for some change
and evolution during the recording process where you feel necessary?
It pretty much stays how we first play it or write it,
there’s some re-arranging every so often, but nothing drastic.  I think the first instinct is usually the
right answer, so once you get into picking it apart it’s easy to loose sight of
the song.
Despite the ass
backwards laws across the globe, at least in my opinion, people have been
tapping into the altered states that drugs and alcohol produce for the purposes
of creating for thousands of years and I’m always curious about their usage and
application when it comes to the art that I personally enjoy and consumer.  Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs play
a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance
processes for Gothic Tropic?
Not a role at all when it comes to Gothic Tropic as a
project.  But speaking for myself only, I
do endorse psychoactive/hallucinogenic drugs for use as a tool to achieve
spiritual enlightenment or personal healing. 
I think the guys in Gothic Tropic, or any progressive adult would agree
with me, but I can’t speak for them. 
What it did for me was induce a state of childlike wonder that served as
a reminder, and implanted a sense of ease and perspective.  It can introduce you to a blissful meditative
feeling you can’t otherwise as easily achieve, and you can take that mental
motor memory with you out of your “trip” and into your daily life.  I haven’t done it in a while, but I
personally don’t think I need to again, or at least for a while.  To me, it seems like a landmark moment needs
to be chosen wisely.
There was a rumor
about a 7-inch release with HOTT MT back in 2013 or 2014 but I don’t remember
that ever popping up.  Did that ever end
up happening?  If not, have the song(s)
you were going to put on there found a new home?
We put the two songs we recorded out on Old Flame Records in
August as a pre-release to our album. 
The label Hott MT and I were speaking with just never did anything with
it, so we took it back.  I would love to
do something with Hott MT, but we never picked it back up.  They’re good friends though, so we’ll do
something when the time is right.
In 2014 I know you
released a cassette single for Old Flame Records Underwater Games with two
brand new songs on it.  Was the recording
of these very different than your earlier session(s) for Awesome Problem?  When and where were “Underwater Games” and
“Bird Of Prey” recorded?  Who recorded
those tracks?  What kind of equipment was
used?  Is that limited at all, or it an
open ended release?
Those were the songs that were supposed to come out on that
split!  They were recorded at East West
Studios Room A, thanks to Dale Stepp for introducing us to the idea of
recording songs for the split.  Wil
Anspach recorded it.  I just remember
that I played Elton John’s piano and the mics in the drum room could buy a
I try to
sporadically check in on Facebook pages and that kind of thing to keep up with
stuff coming down the pike from people and I’ve seen a couple of awesome pieces
of news pop up on your feed.  I saw a post
were you were talking about recording a track for the soundtrack to a film,
Centerland which turned out to be entitled “Flesh Dance”.  Is that song going to be exclusive to the
Centerland soundtrack?
“Flesh Dance” is published under an agreement that allows it
many uses, so no, it’s not exclusive.
© John Ferrer
I recently saw a
post on your page about the upcoming release of your debut full-length album
FASTorFEAST.  Did you all try anything
radically new or different when it come to the songwriting or recording of the
material for FASTorFEAST?  What can our
readers expect from the upcoming album? 
Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for
FASTorFEAST?  When was that recorded and
who recorded it?  Where was that at?  What kind of equipment was used this time
around?  Is there any kind of projected
release date for FASTorFEAST at this point?
I like how you typed it! 
Can we use that, ha-ha?  It will
be out by this summer on Old Flame Records. 
That track I mentioned earlier, “Teenage Behavior” will be on it.  We have a few live sessions up on YouTube
Cry Like A Man” and “God’s Pleasure” will also be on it.  FASTorFEAST has a duality, like Gothic Tropic
does.  There are songs that make you feel
like driving fast with the top down, and songs that take you inside a dark
moment in your life, so you’ll hear that and it will listen very much like a
Does Gothic Tropic
have any music that we haven’t talked about, maybe a demo or a single that I
don’t know about or anything?
Those freebees I mentioned are just little moments captured
live, but they’re on SoundCloud and MySpace
You may be hearing them written, or re-mixed or re-arranged later
With the upcoming
release of FASTorFEAST are there any other releases in the works or on the
horizon for Gothic Tropic?
Just the videos that precede the album and maybe a visual
companion for the record, different media, but no new music until the next
release which is to be announced.
Where’s the best
place for our interested US readers to pick up copies of your music at?
If you’re in Los Angeles, Vacation Vinyl is selling our
Underwater Games & Bird of Prey tape and Origami Records has our pink
marble vinyl of Awesome Problems EP.  If
not, iTunes and Spotify! And you can pick up Underwater Games & Bird of
on Old Flame Records’ Bandcamp page. 
If you want to help support the band directly, name your price at
gothictropic.bandcamp.com and I would be very grateful.
© Eric Reid
With the
completely insane international postage rate increases over the past few years
I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up
imports as I can.  Where’s the best place
for our international and overseas readers to buy your music?
The online links above.
And where’s the
best place to keep up with the latest news from Gothic Tropic at?
Follow us on Instagram @gothictropic.
Are there any
major plans or goals that Gothic Tropic is looking to accomplish in 2015?
Keep playing and making more records.
What, if anything,
do you have planned as far as touring goes right now?
West Coast Tour Feb 20th-28th, dates on our Facebook!
© Bokeh Monster
Do you spend a lot
of time out on the road?  Do you enjoy
being out on tour?  What’s life like on
the road for Gothic Tropic?
I notice we rock a bit harder on the road.  It’s like a sense of freedom on stage that we
all suck in.  It’s awesome.  We love playing to new audiences.  It’s really exciting.
Do you remember
what the first song that Gothic Tropic ever played live was?  When and where would that have been at?
I think you can see the first show on YouTube!  It was “Monkey Bars” at Echo Park Independent
Co-Op, me solo.  Then our first live band
show was at Lot 1, and we ended up jamming this random funk number for about
fifteen minutes while everyone was dancing.
Who are some of
your favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few
We played with Mike Watt, and I’m a big fan.  Unknown Mortal Orchestra was great to play
with and I recently opened for Tegan & Sarah and that was incredible. 
© Greg Katz
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large
extent?  Stuff like flyers, posters,
shirt designs, cover artwork and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that
you’re attempting to convey with the visual side of Gothic Tropic?  Is there anyone that you usually turn to in
your times of need when it comes to the visual side of Gothic Tropic?  If so, who is that and how did you get hooked
up with them?
I think the visual branding is pretty much how we are,
playful, primary colors, classic patterns, etcetera.  Our cover for Fast or Feast is very
evil/sexy, so I’m excited to have that come out.
© Donna Coyle 
I grew up around
my dad’s killer collection of music and both of my parents really encouraged me
to listen to anything that interested me from a pretty young age.  I think it was my dad taking me to the local
shops that left the biggest impression on me though.  I developed this ritual for listening to
music that’s led a pretty hefty lifelong obsession with physical music
products.  I would rush home, grab a set
of headphones, read the liner notes over and over again, stare at the cover
artwork and let the whole experience carry me off on this whole trip!  Having something to hold in my hands and
experience along with the music has always made for a much more complete
listening experience for me.  Do you have
any such connection with physically released music?
Totally, I’m a tactile person so I identify with that a
lot.  But to be honest, I didn’t grow up
with a record player, so I didn’t experience that feeling until recently, and I
understand why it feels so good.  For me,
I remember looking at an Enya tape when I was eight and thinking “this is what
it sounds like!” and I thought that was cool, ha-ha.
Like it or not
right now, digital music is here in a big way. 
I think it mostly depends on how you deal with things really, there are
always going to be upsides and downsides to any given situation.  On one hand, people are being exposed to all
this amazing music, not only from around the world but in their own hometowns
and backyards.  Along with the internet
it’s also facilitated an unprecedented level of communication betweens band and
their fans; this interview being a wonderful case in point.  On the other hand though, while people are
being exposed to all this amazing new music they’re not really that interested
in paying for it.  A lot of people have
begun to regard music as a disposable form of entertainment, a kind of free
soundtrack to their lives that will always be there regardless of whether they
pay for it or not.  And while people’s
relationship and interaction with music is constantly changing and evolving, I
don’t think that digital music has done any of us any favors in those
regards.  As an artist during the reign
of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
I think the music industry is inventing new ways to
monetize, and evolve with this, but it’s not going too well for even the top
tier artists, at least not to their standards. 
No one’s going to make a lot of money unless they sell a song to a big
popular artist, or they are the big popular artist or someone in their
camp.  I don’t need much money to be
happy though, I’m okay with my glass ceiling as an artist, but I’m constantly
finding new ways to be involved and make a living at it. 
I try to keep up
with as many good bands as I possibly can but there’s so much stuff out there
right now it’s hard to even know where to start!  Is there someone from your local scene or
area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?
I really like Ryder Bach’s (Body Parts) stuff on SoundCloud.
What about
nationally and internationally?
New artists; Hiatus Kaiyote, Kindness, Autre Ne Veut,
(2011)  Gothic Tropic
– Awesome Problems EP – Digital, 12” – New Professor Music
(2014)  Gothic Tropic
– Underwater Games Single – Digital, Cassette Tape – Old Flame Records
(2015)  Gothic Tropic
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015
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