The new album from Greg Mendez needs no introduction and even Pitchfork wrote about it and gave it 7.8. Greg Mendez is one of the most talented lo-fi rock / indie songwriters of the current era and is coming from my favorite city Philadelphia.
I am not going to write about it anything more, besides the fact, it is in the top 5 albums of this year. Without a doubt. The album was released on cassettes and vinyl via Forged Artifacts and cassettes via Devil Town Tapes. We have his tape in our cassette store as well.
Instead of writing more superlative words, I have made an interview with Greg. It’s awesome. Just read it.
Some of the questions were made with the help of Curtis.
Filip: What inspired you to start making music?
Greg: I think I just liked it, I was always more captivated by songs than anything else. It was something to fixate on.
F: Do you have any memories of music from your childhood?
G: I remember making up little melodies to play in my head when I wanted to be somewhere else.
F: Do you have any special memories with cassettes?
G: I used to record cartoons from the TV speaker with a TalkBoy onto cassettes and listen to them over and over again.
F: It has been three months since the release of your recent self-titled album, how does it feel now? How do you see the reception of the album?
G: It feels good, it’s nice to see people connecting with something I made. It’s cool that people are still finding it and listening to it.
F: The album release has been planned and communicated about for a couple of months before and even after the release. What did this longer release process feel like for you?
G: It was a little different than what I’ve been used to. The record was actually fully done in spring 2022, so about a year before the release started. It was a long gestation period. I felt impatient sometimes but I think there were good things about it.
F: You live in Philly. Does this city have an impact on the music you make?
G: Yeah probably, like a fish is influenced by the sea. To be honest, I don’t know what the impact is tangibly, but I’m sure I’d be making different stuff if I had spent most of my life somewhere else.
F: What has the DIY community meant to you and your music?
G: I wouldn’t be here without it.
F: Which artists have influenced your music the most?
G: I’m forever trying to write a song as good as “This Will Be Our Year”
F: What does your creative process look like?
G: I don’t have a specific process that I use really, but in a general sense I have an idea and I follow it and see where it goes. It usually starts with a guitar and singing, or keyboard and singing. I listen to my gut about whether something is working or not, the same way I just know if I like a song that someone else made.
F: Do you search for the meaning through the music? Does the creative process help you to process your thoughts?
G: Honestly, I don’t know. I feel like for music like mine people want the answer to be yes, but I don’t really think of it in a therapeutic way or anything, not consciously at least, and definitely not while I’m making it. I think having that intent would put too much pressure on it and I don’t want to impose that kind of framing on what I do. I go in only with the intent of making a good song.
F: Where do you seek inspiration for your lyrics? How do you choose what to include in lyrics and what not?
G: The inspiration is mostly from life. I’m not that imaginative or creative. I try not to force it too much, to let the words write themselves. I guess my only criteria for what to include is does it feel and sounds good and does it feel true to the song.
F: Is the process of songwriting more spontaneous or intentional? Have you ever thought of writing songs that are more coherent stories rather just fragments?
G: I think for songs that I end up liking it’s both spontaneous and intentional. Maybe it starts with something spontaneous that’s honed more intentionally.
I’ve tried writing more “coherent” songs and I’ve never been happy with the results. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do it. But for now, I’ll leave it to artists who are good at that. I tend to just follow what’s working rather than force something.
F: What is your daily job and how do you make music while working? How hard is it to find time?
G: For the past couple of years, I’ve been a production assistant on photo shoots. I haven’t always done that though. A lot of it is driving trucks and moving furniture. Packing and unpacking stuff. I’m lucky right now that I don’t have to work full-time. When I had to work all the time I had to be a lot more decisive with my free time, there wasn’t as much “Oh I can do that later.” But yeah right now it’s not too hard to find time, it’s just a matter of actually using it.
F: Do you have any other hobbies besides music?
G: I like to draw and take pictures but I haven’t done much of either lately.
F: Any favorite or inspirational books or movies?
G: Pride and Prejudice
F: What keeps you motivated to continue making music?
G: Curiosity and pleasure-seeking. I’m trying to write a perfect pop song and I haven’t done it yet.
F: What was the most challenging thing in your music (artistic) path?
G: Realizing that I had something to offer and that what I was making was worth making.
F: Do you have any set goals with your music? Some milestones you would like to achieve?
G: I just want to keep getting better. Writing better songs. Making better records. Playing better live. It’s the only part of any of this that I have control over.
F: What would you dream to do if anything was possible?
G: Write a song as good as “This Will Be Our Year”
F: Do you have any advice for artists just starting out or maybe coming back to prior passions?
G: Be true to yourself and what you like. Don’t take any advice or say yes to anything that goes against your gut. If it feels bad, it probably isn’t right.
F: In the end, I have one challenge for you. Describe every song from your self-titled album in a single sentence, one sentence for each song.
- Knocked on the wrong door
- There’s not much left here, just a few boxes.
- Stuck standing still or always coming back
- Like a moth to a flame
- Magnetic violence
- Some kinds of love
- I’ve learned some things I’d rather forget
- Everything gets washed away by the sea
- The house is empty except for the flicker of a lit candle.