As I walk up to a hidden building, I see Evan Geesman and he’s barefoot. His studio is located somewhere in Santa Ana. It’s an old brick building painted pastel white. The paint is uneven, exposing the red bricks underneath. There are trees and bushes that shade the front. To the left side of the building, there are train tracks and a train seems to pass through here every 20 minutes. I expect a relatively normal interview. This did not happen.
His studio smells strongly of incense. All around the room, there is a huge assortment of paintings and art pieces. There is a painting of a Muslim girl smoking a cigarette, an old mannequin, a poster that says “Tough Luck You’re Fucked,” and a dalmatian dog statue. There is also a big cross that is lit up by small evenly spaced lights; a big American flag hangs over the door. I can also make out a Leonard Cohen book in his small bookshelf. There is a big light brown old ’70s organ; guitars, bass, amps, mics are littered all around; and there are several midi keyboards and beat machines neatly placed around a big LCD screen.
Geesman is a Santa Ana native and electronic artist who is part of the GRN + GLD collective. They DJ and perform music all over the OC and LA but have an exclusive residency at the Que Sera in Long Beach the last Saturday of every month. Occasionally, they also work with other collectives like Condina Records. Geesman credits its success to Benny Edles, also known as Dirty Merlin, the mastermind behind GRN + GLD collective. On his own, though, Geesman writes and releases his own music.
His upcoming solo record NewAgeSewAge is influenced by low-fi house music which he discovered at an illegal warehouse party in Los Angeles. NewAgeSewAge is equal parts electronic, jazzy, and even orchestral and is influenced by Ross From Friends, Glenn Astro (who he got to remix one song from the album), Frank Ocean, and Erykah Badu. To me, it gives off a vibe similar to Tomorrows Modern Boxes by Thom Yorke.
The record starts with a mellifluous string section which carries you into a jazzy plane. Although the melodies are beautiful, the ambiguous heartbreak tinged lyrics create a dark tension. “I was trying to give off the vibe of being up until 4 a.m. working on music and going on Tinder to try to make myself feel better and creeping your ex’s social media and chainsmoking, and then going back to making music,” says Geesman. He was going to name the album From Across the Tracks of the Crumbling Building but was talked out of it. He settled on the title NewAgeSewage because every new phase of your life you have to deal with some new bullshit.
As we talk, he gesticulates wildly with a joint in his hand. After 40 minutes of talking, he goes silent. “Hold on one second,” he says. It’s quiet with only the sound of the street and the train is filtering in. “There is someone spray painting on the wall right now,” says Geesman. I hear nothing. He runs out his door to the top of the building and tells someone to stop. I can overhear everything. “You gotta take that somewhere else,” says Geesman. An unknown voice responds: “fuck you ese!” In a matter of microseconds, I hear glass shatter against the brick wall. Pellets of rocks start raining and striking the back of the studio wall. Eventually, the taggers leave after he calls the cops.
“Sorry about that,” says Geesman. “I usually just tell them to leave and they leave. There’s your story, I guess.” Since this building is next to the train tracks, taggers and homeless are a common problem. “A couple of months ago I caught a guy behind one of the buildings,” says Geesman. “I don’t know if he was on drugs or had mental issues but he said ‘I got invited to a party, wrong address.'” As the homeless man walked away, Geesman realized the box was actually a cash register. He called the cops, who came and chased the man in his underwear for 30 minutes. According to Geesman, the train tracks used to be covered in tents. Gang members used to set up an E-Z Up and sell drugs. People would drive up in really nice cars, go through the fence, and buy drugs.
After a few minutes, we settle down back to the middle of the room and start talking again. “Most musicians would be lying if they didn’t say ‘that’s tight, I kind of want to do my version of that,'” says Geesman about being inspired by other artist’s music.
Most of that album, except for two songs, was written after a tough break-up. “When you’re going through a break up you go through periods of ‘Yeah, I’m by myself and this is awesome!’ to crying and saying ‘I’m so alone!’ So maybe that kind of had an influence on the album.” Geesman describes the relationship as rocky. One where the opposite traits do not become complementary and stay as incompatibilities. Instead of facing them, the issues are masked until it’s too late.
“Sometimes you’re like ‘What the fuck, I thought loving someone is all I had to do!’ but sometimes that’s not how it works.”
NewAgeSewAge will be out on June 28th. You can also catch him performing for GRN and GLD at the Que Sera in Long Beach every last Saturday of the month.
I like to stare at my computer. Occasionally I type words to pass the time. Those words are usually about music.