Years of air pollution have tainted the Los Angeles sky which now bathes the city in a hazy pinkish hue. It brightens some parts of the city into cinematic dreamworlds. In others it only serves to illuminate harsh realities. This representation has seen itself seep into the musical culture of the city. Bands like The Beach Boys, The Byrds and Fleetwood Mac live in the dreamworld. N.W.A., Guns N’ Roses and Rage Against The Machine symbolise the grittier sides.
Gothic Tropic are an L.A. band that explore these contrasts.You can even apply the theory to the name. Led by front-woman, Cecilia Della Peruti, Gothic Tropic genre hop from punk rock to disco.
Standout track, ’Puppet Master’ has a crunching riff that sounds like Black Sabbath on a helter skelter sandwiched in between Cecilia’s coy, ethereal vocals. “You know how PJ Harvey get’s to play whatever.” Cecilia says, “I don’t want to lock myself into one genre because I love everything.”
As a consequence when recording Cecilia tries not to be influenced by anything specific. She grew up in L.A. and finds despite her best efforts it naturally influences her mindset when writing music. “LA is kind of like an anti-depression biosphere. There’s a lot of nostalgic things around. It helps a creative person feel grounded and connected to things that influence them. I’ll go to places I visited as a kid like the Descanso Gardens in Pasadena or the Griffith Observatory.”
The project started in 2011 as an “anti-industry, anti-hustle” creative outlet that would give Cecilia a break from her other work as a touring guitarist with artists like Børns and Charli XCX. “I even named it a joke name so I wouldn’t ever rely on it as my project,” Cecilia confesses. “I was thinking that I would continue on gigging. I cursed it with a name that I thought I could never take seriously.”
In the early days the band channelled the improvisational ensemble jazz groups of the 1970’s like the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was seen as a break from the “polished, monotonous artists rolling out every six months in LA”.
Band members came and went. Drummer Liz left to start her own solo project, Liphemra. The band started losing its meaning for Cecilia. The concept restricted progression while it was hard to remain the same. “I eventually figured out I was sharing everything and wanted everyone to have more of that band environment but the vision got deluded by the different tastes. It kind of ended up losing what I like about it. I reclaimed it last year.”
It has seen her billed as a new artist despite the bands six year history with a debut album ‘Fast or Feast’ set for release in spring. “I stopped playing for other artists and I decided to make a record that could take it from fun to possible career.” Cecilia admits, “That’s why it feels like a new artist”.
A UK tour supporting Kate Nash beckons as well as a tie-in with American guitar makers Fender. She didn’t pick up her first electric guitar - a “beat up tele squire that felt like a brick” - until she was 19 having played her mother’s nylon classical in her youth. It sets her apart from other musicians. Cecilia never felt the need to play by the rules. The guitar is set to come to the forefront on the new album possibly harnessing the heavier side of the Gothic Tropic sound. That L.A. contrast between the gothic and the tropic becoming even more pronounced.
- - -
- - -
Words: Richard Jones
Brought to you in association with Cheap Monday. Check out their latest offerings over on their website now.