Futuropaco

Justin Pinkerton


2018 is almost gone and we are more than proud to have in our Basement Justin Pinkerton, who is responsible for one of the best and most intriguing albums of the year. Τhat is "Futuropaco", which was released under the homonym moniker last August via El Paraiso Records and instantly stole our hearts. 37 minutes of highly inspired instrumental music, nine magically-crafted tracks that combine lots of genres and sounds, leading to a final outcome that is really unique and innovative.   

Hailing from Oakland, Justin is for more than twenty-five years into music, as a composer, multi-instrumentalist, audio engineer and DJ. He's been a member and a collaborator with a number of bands and artists, such as The Roots of Orchis, Eyes, The Finches, Moholy Nagy, Rafter Roberts and Scott Pinkmountain. Right now he's the drummer and songwriter, along with vocalist and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, for the heavy psych band Golden Void. They have released two albums, self-titled (2012) and "Berkana" (2015). He was also the bassist for the band Planes Of Satori. His solo work and discography is extensive and important and can be found under the names of "Glass Parallels" and "Corsic". Moreover, some compositions of his are featured in television ads for Toyota, Dodge, Audi, BMW, Comcast, Harley Davidson, Cadillac and many others.

"Futuropaco" is Justin's latest project and occasioned by this beautiful album we had a very interesting and cool chat, which you can read below. 
 

 

 

The Basement: Justin, welcome to The Basement and congrats on your great new solo album “Futuropaco”. We would like to start from there, from the album itself: Give us some details about it, about the recordings and the people who helped and contributed to the release.
Hi, thanks and thanks for asking for an interview. The album is just me, except for Phillip Greenlief who played saxophone. Aside from that I performed everything and recorded and mixed everything in my basement, ha. So, an appropriate platform for this interview. Jonas Munk mastered the record and of course he and Jakob Skott (who also did the artwork/layout) released it via El Paraiso Records.
 

The Basement: Checking on the title “Futoropaco”, we found out that it’s a combination of the Italian words “futuro” and “opaco”, meaning opaque future. How did you come up with this name for your project and for your album? 
I came up with the name sort of reflecting on the state of our world right now; especially in my own country. In fact, the track names are also reflective of those same sentiments. There's a lot of evil rearing it's head in the world right now and that was sort of where that name came from. I chose Italian as a nod to a record that was an early influence on some of these tracks. It's a record called Distortions by the “band” Blue Phantom. I use quotations because it's actually the work of composer Armando Sciascia and hired musicians (who as far as I know are not known).
 

The Basement: Is our future really opaque or/and bleak? What things make you think so?  
Obviously, I hope the future is much more clear and positive but that was sort of where my head was at with a lot of these tracks; and still is to a certain degree. It's really hard not to look at the current administration in my country and some of the other groups around the world who are feeling emboldened by the hateful actions the leaders of my country have been responsible for; and the ideas that they are perpetuating and not feel like there's a dark cloud hovering over us all.  I don't want to take this interview into some political theorizing but there is a lot of dangerous rhetoric being thrown around and dangerous actions that follow that rhetoric. If the sane minded people of this world don't start to do whatever they can to stop this then we might be in trouble. And, I do know, there is a significant amount of the population who is fighting against that dark cloud which gives me hope.
 

The Basement: How did the idea of the album was at first come up?  
I have a lot of solo work, spanning a handful of genres. This material just came together with the quickest for some reason and I decided to release an ep on Bandcamp. A friend from San Diego tagged El Paraiso records in one of my instagram posts for the ep and everything sort of came together from there. One of the positive aspects of social media! As I said the initial idea came from the Blue Phantom record. I like that record and was sort of thinking what it would be like if they made a second record. That's where the first couple song ideas came from. Once I got past the first or second track, it sort of just took on a life of it's own and I didn't lean too heavily on the initial concept. I was really into digging for records (less so now because I don't have a lot of money to throw around) for sampling and making beats a while back. And that's always in the back of my head when I'm making music, still. That's when I discovered and amassed the majority of my record collection. The whole time with this record, that's just what's in the back of my head “if this was a 50 or 60-year-old record I happened upon it, would it blow my mind?” I didn't set out to create some compositional masterpiece with this record; in fact, I tried to keep it as simple as possible without being boring.  Ultimately I set out to make a record that had a certain overall mood or vibe or whatever you want to call it and sounded a certain way.
 

The Basement: How would you describe the record to someone that has absolutely no idea about it?
Heavy psychedelic movie soundtrack? I don't really know. That might be the easiest way to describe it but I feel like that's also leaving a lot out. That's one of my least favorite things to do, to try to sum up music into a genre or label. I do it all the time for other bands/music but I know it's such a subjective thing. 
 

The Basement: And what about the album’s sound? Not very close to what Golden Void play… Which parts and influences of yours rose and lead you to the particular genres and eras?
Golden Void is a very different band altogether. For the music I've written for GV, it's a very different approach. Generally, I'm not really a composer who just writes chord progressions and melodies. I always have an idea of a certain sound that I'm looking to achieve; that includes the production of the recording. I'm usually thinking of the end product in the very early stages of song writing. With Golden Void I have to set a lot of those ideas aside because it's a band, and everyone has input. Sometimes my ideas work, sometimes they don't. I'll write the music on guitar and then we all get together and things either stay exactly how I wrote them (except when Isaiah plays the guitar parts it's always better than I wrote to begin with) or things change. That's what I like about being in a band. Sometimes ideas work as they're composed and sometimes other people have ideas that make them better. Plus, having vocals changes everything. When I write songs for GV I'm not even thinking about vocals half time because Isaiah and/or Camilla take care of that; which can be liberating but also difficult. Having a melody can change so much about a song structure while you're writing it. So, it's open-ended songwriting basically. My influences vary because I also know what might work and what might not work with GV. We don't all share the same likes and dislikes. So, there is some editing involved with what ideas I throw in.



 

The Basement: When was your first exposure to the 70’s Italian library/cinematic music? How did the “bug” get into you at first? 
To be honest I haven't really gotten that into it. I mean, I like a lot of library music from that era but I've only scratched the surface with how far I've dug into it. I just know that what I've heard I like, for the most part. I only really started getting into it maybe 10 or so years ago. But it didn't really have anything to do with it being library music or whatever, I just like psychedelic music and there's a lot that came out of the 70s in the form of library music. I know there are a lot of people that seek that out specifically, but it's not something I'm necessarily constantly on the look out for. I'm just on the look out for good music.
 

The Basement: Is “Futuropaco” a one-off release or should we expect more?
I plan doing more. Just need to find the time to put more songs together. it can be tricky to find time to work on stuff, especially when I'm doing it all myself; everything seems to take longer.
 

The Basement: What about Golden Void? Should we expect more from the band, a third album?
I hope so. We had some stuff that sort of slowed us down a bit and now Isaiah has been really busy with Earthless touring lately so that has essentially put us on hiatus; at least in regard to performing live. If/when that ever slows down I would love to do another album.  We'll have to figure that out!
 

The Basement: What are your views on the scene that rises through the decade at your home region of California. So many new bands and significant artists. Which of them would you stick out? 
Yeah, there's been a lot of great bands out of California. So many I can't really keep track. I don't really want to name names because I'm sure I'll leave someone out and feel bad, ha! I just know there's no shortage of good music out here; and that's been the case for a long time.
 

The Basement: When did you start playing music and which were your music heroes back then?
My first instrument was in 5th grade, the alto saxophone. I played that for a couple years and foolishly sold it to buy a guitar. I never should have done that. My musical heroes back then were actually probably hip hop artists and producers of the 90s;  Gangstarr, Showbiz and AG, A Tribe Called Quest, Eric B & Rakim, etc. But, that sort of changed once I started playing guitar. I've been playing guitar since 7th grade and picked up bass sometime around then too. Drums I started in my last year of high school and also started dabbling with keyboards around that time too. When I started playing guitar I was mainly into punk and post-punk. Fugazi was my favorite band for a while. When I got into drums I basically learned how to play drums by trying to play along to Tortoise, Sea and Cake and John Coltrane records. So I guess you could say my heroes were John McEntire, John Herndon and Elvin Jones. I sort of set the bar high. But, I have a lot musical heroes, not just from the instruments I play.
 

The Basement: Which is your ultimate dream as a musician?
To be able to play music for a living, which is sort of what do right now. Granted, a lot of it is music I wouldn't normally make (music for advertisements, etc.) if I wasn't getting paid to do it but it's still music.  So right now I'm living a version of that. Ideally I'd like to make a living from my own music. But, I don't really consider that a realistic endeavor based on the music I create; and I'm not a “tour all the time” type of musician. I'd love to do more scoring for films.
 

The Basement: We have a thing for lists in The Basement… Give us your 10 favourite albums of all time. :)
oh, that's a tough one. I'll try but 10 is tough. We'll just call it a group of 10 of my favorite; some may or may not be my top. In alphabetical order by artist:
 

Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidanada
Can – Ege Bamyasi
Captain Beefheart – Safe As Milk
Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full
Fripp and Eno – Evening Star
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King
Nas – Illmatic
Placebo – Ball of Eyes
Soft Machine – One

it's hard to stop there!
 

The Basement: Thanks so Justin! Wish you the best!
Thank you!


* Justin Pinkerton official website: http://www.justinwardpinkerton.com/
* Justin Pinkerton on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/justinwardpinkertonmusic/

 

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