Entrevista – The reds, pinks and purples

2 octubre, 2022

Vamos lanzados con las entrevistas; hace unas semanas entrevistábamos a Reptaliens, uno de nuestros discos favoritos del año, y hoy publicamos una nueva entrevista, esta vez con Glenn Donaldson, la persona detrás de The reds, pinks and purples, favoritos del Octopus desde hace años y creador también de uno de los mejores discos que hemos escuchado este año.

Glenn atendió inmediatamente nuestra petición y respondió enormemente amable a nuestras preguntas. ¡Incluso mandó una foto para ilustrar la entrevista! De esta manera aumenta aún más nuestra admiración por un maestro del pop sencillo, de ese pop de guitarras, voces y melodías que tantos momentos de felicidad nos ha proporcionado.

Os dejamos con la entrevista. Thank you very much, Glenn, we really love you!

“Anxiety art” was recorded all by yourself (“in my kitchen in SF”). Any change now after 3 more albums?

I have added a better microphone and a tube pre-amp since then, so it’s improved slightly to my ears. I am still doing most of it by myself, but I hope I am getting better at mixing and singing too, just being more engaged in it.

One of the subjects present in “Anxiety art” is the neighborhood. In fact, it seems to be clear in most of the titles: “Dead end days”, “Bike race”, “Bad habits”, “Citygardens”, “Boys in the gang”, “New car”, “Living on Sunday”, “Citybuses”… all of them seem related to small life scenes. How it is Inner Ritchmond? Is it a good neighborhood?

It was formerly an inexpensive neighborhood, but San Francisco has become very expensive, so that has changed over time. I could never afford to buy a home here, but we have rent control, so I am able to stay. I wasn’t sure what to write about when I started this project, and it occurred to me on a walk around my neighborhood that this place should be the inspiration, stories about SF life and my life.

Also your covers seem to represent your neighborhood. It really looks like a beautiful place to live…

It is between two large city parks and near the ocean, but also the photos probably make it look more dreamy because of what I choose to capture. There are several other bands that live nearby including The Umbrellas and April Magazine. There are generator shows in the park with all the best locals. It is lovely in many ways.

How comes the contact with Javier Abad from Pretty Olivia? Weel, you need to know that he is a really good old friend of the Octopus!

That’s great! I think around 2018-2019, I started putting what I thought were demos on my bandcamp, and he started listening to them and asked to put them on vinyl. I really wasn’t planning on making any records or even having a band. I am grateful that Javier took a chance on it. The whole Spanish micro-label scene is amazing, really some of the best pop releases in the world come from Pretty Olivia, Bobo Integral and Meritorio!

The following album is “You might be happy someday”. You seem to talk to some “you” to tell him or her that things will be better someday, but the album is quite hopeless, maybe you don’t have too much faith in he or she being happier in the future. Why is that?

Complicated question. The short answer is maybe I have depression in my life, a longer answer would involve trying to answer existential or cosmic questions that have no answers. The band is where I express my sadness and regrets, but I also try to tackle hopelessness and failure with humor. The music is meant to be cathartic.

In “Uncommon weather” you claim for the “spiritual power of uncomplicated pop classics”. We always say that nothing is easier and at the same time more difficult than a perfect pop song: the elements are there, you have what you need, you can use it, but it rarely works. Any message for us, the “uncomplicated pop classics lovers”?

That’s a good way to explain it. Pop can be an art and a craft, but sometimes great pop is made purely by accident. Brian Wilson spent weeks on “Good Vibrations” at three different studios, but The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” which is just as good in my opinion, was probably written in five minutes. I am still not sure why a song “works” or does not, but I have studied the elements that make good pop and try to apply them to my songs. The magic ingredient for me in songwriting lately is trying to write about emotions in an honest way, no matter how embarrassing or revealing. I never really was that direct before.

“Summer at land’s end” is one of our favorite albums of the year (https://www.eljardindeoctopus.es/2022/03/07/the-reds-pinks-and-purples-summer-at-lands-end/). What do you intend to communicate with “Summer…”? What can we get from this album?

I wanted to make a song cycle about different kinds of love, romantic, platonic, and spiritual. The songs are about the bliss and pain of love, how beautiful it is, how it is the fuel for inspiration, and of course the flip side of that which is loneliness and despair. I intentionally made the production a little more hazy to reflect this feeling.

With “Still clouds at noon” you already have a new album to be released. Are these songs going to be in a new album or will they remain in the cloud? New songs for 2023 and a complete new album?

I have a new vinyl LP coming in Spring called “The Town that Cursed Your Name”, it’s about dreaming of being a musician, trying, failing, and maybe succeeding and all that it brings. I am not sure what will become of “Still Clouds at Noon”. I have another mini-LP called “Unwishing Well” that is almost complete. I am just writing songs as much as I can and taking interesting gigs wherever I am invited. I really want to play in the UK, but it’s so expensive to bring a band.

Finally, please recommend some new bands from San Francisco that we must know.

I love the songwriting of Karina from Flowertown and Cindy. Cindy has a new record coming next year that is fantastic, very Leonard Cohen-esque but in a slowcore setting. April Magazine is a lo-fi dream. Sad Eyed Beatniks is wonderfully cracked pop that reminds me of Half Japanese and Eat Skull.