Having emerged seemingly from nowhere, without the aid of social media, or any of the trappings of today’s status-driven musical economy, Gilman Mom’s music speaks for itself. His second release, Manifest Destiny, a collection of field-recording driven drone found itself in the Astral Noize inbox one day, and we were immediately intrigued.
Gilman Mom’s sound is almost Lynchian in its scope, recalling Angelo Bademanti’s seminal score to Twin Peaks in its ethereal textures. Whilst the release gives off a dream-like air of catharsis, it’s unclear exactly what the album was about, or who Gilman Mom really is, so we caught up with Dominic Francisco, the smiling mastermind behind the mask to find out what makes him tick.
Who is Gilman Mom? Where are you from?
My real name is Dominic Francisco and I’m from Berkeley, California. I’ve been making music for around seven years and I think that slowly I’ve been able to develop a style that is relatively unique to me.
What is the purpose of your musical output for you? What are you expressing?
Capturing emotion is my primary goal in creating music. Since I was a kid, good music has evoked really specific feelings and atmospheres in my mind while I listen, almost transporting me to a different place. That’s what I value most in sound and I personally strive to achieve music with the ability to immerse the listener, in order to alter their environment for forty minutes or so.
Your latest release is intriguing, there’s not really much that sounds like it out there. How would you describe the sound on display there?
Labeling Manifest Destiny has been a bit of a challenge. I suppose it could be considered experimental rock though I’ve heard it called art rock, which I feel is appropriate in the confines of genre. It feels a little weird calling it that though given that this album was put together primarily with samples in the way a hip-hop producer might go about things. Honestly, the best term may be expressionism.
Tell us about the circular thought process the album took the listener through?
The album derives from reflection on a past relationship and the uncertainty of trusting memories. For instance, if I have a fond memory of someone but in hindsight and with more experience in the world I realize that the way that they treated me wasn’t acceptable does that invalidate the memory and make them a bad person? Was I not really having a good time with them? Does that negate my feelings in the moment? What are the limits to what is acceptable if you submit unconditionally? I guess it stems from moral confusion and going back, forth, and sideways on decisions I thought were permanent. Maybe it’s the realization that nothing is permanent, but that’s okay. You have to embrace that.
What Jazz are you influenced by? The influence of jazz is often one used in the abstract, how does the jazz influence fit into your sound?
Jazz definitely held influence on this record. The sonic aesthetic of the band Morphine has had a huge impact on its sound. I think it only qualifies as jazz in a pretty esoteric way, but Frank Ocean’s Blonde played a huge role in the creation of this album too. Jazz to me is music without rules. It follows its own path without necessarily adhering to the confines of popular music. I try to embrace that concept of musical freedom when I work and in that sense, it’s more of a spirit than a style.
What non-musical influences went into the release? The album is evocative of David Lynch’s work for instance.
I draw a lot of influence from my dreams. They’re something that has always really fascinated me. I think that’s where a lot of surrealist art comes from, which is something that really captivates my imagination. Nature, obviously, is a huge influence on here as well.
Your sound is very deeply layered and obfuscated, how do you achieve this? To what end is this included in your sound?,
My process usually begins by stumbling upon evocative sounds and going from there. Everything is intentionally grouped and layered with sounds that provoke similar emotional reactions or remind me of specific feelings. A lot of it is just intuition and personal preference.
Where is that place?
Where my musical choices come from? Whatever captures my attention. I just go where instinct tells me to go, that pretty much always gets me going in the right direction.
What do you have planned as far as further releases go? How do you want to progress as an artist?
I know where I want to go next. There was a logical progression from I Forgot To Tell You, my first album under the name Gilman Mom, to Manifest Destiny. Emotionally and mood-wise I know where I want to go next but I haven’t started that journey yet. As an artist, I want to produce a string of albums that convey something greater, create a larger statement when stacked next to each other. We’ll see if I’m able to do that. I certainly feel that I’m capable of it.
Words: Richard Lowe