Gnostic Gorilla, a Toronto based goth-electro effort, is the brain child of Dean Mason who has been experimenting with his musical representation since 2012. Gnostic Gorilla sonically holds a candle to Blue October, but if Blue October met the keeper of the crypt and bathed in the blood of their synth enemies. Being a ghoulish gal myself I was excited to take a listen to their 2018 release, “St. Basil’s Asylum” and get the low-down from the man himself Dean Mason on what it has taken him to get this far and whether he’d rather have his plane land in California or New York.
NA: What drew you to the music industry?
Dean: I think the first time I was attracted to the idea of recording music was when I was a teenager and was a mega Numanoid. I was very inspired by Numan as a lad because he did things different. As a teenager, I got a great bunch of musicians together to record a 45rpm “Dark Hallway/Golgotha” and released it as “Dean Mason” on Lonely Ghost Productions, a makeshift label-o-mine. In 2012 I revisited the idea of recording electronic music in my basement, because the modelling career didn’t work out. Eventually I released “St. Basil’s Asylum” independently (2015 LGP-ONE) and then Cleopatra Records rereleased it in October 2018.
NA: Who are you inspired by either musically or otherwise?
Dean: That’s a great question because for me it isn’t JUST musicians that inspire me. But let’s start with music. As I mentioned earlier, Gary Numan was a big inspiration for me as a teen and even later. I still admire Numan. He can be proud of the place he carved out for himself with in the history of rock and roll. That said, there are so many artists that I find inspiring. To name only a select few (because I like a lot of different bands) Type O Negative, Japan (David Sylvian), Nash the Slash, Ministry, Rammstein, Skinny Puppy and many industrial acts as well. But I have to say a word about The Doors: it is rare that a week goes by that I don’t listen to The Doors. Now, for non-musical inspirations: I’m inspired by those who are truly heroes, truly brave and they’re not people in black suits and capes or people with big boots prancing on a huge stage. The REAL heroes are those who struggle as best they can with whatever they have in an honest way to provide for their families! I’m thinking of the many hard working people out there fighting to survive—the single mothers—and in some cases single fathers—grandparents who should be enjoying their autumn years but are there for the grandchildren—firefighters and cops and soldiers who risk their lives—those who speak the truth even when no one wants to hear it! In other words, movie stars and rock stars are interesting but they’re usually not heroes. They just pretend. The REAL HEROES are the REAL PEOPLE OUT THERE standing in line at the box office, with their hard-earned money paying for that fucking red carpet the ‘famous’ walk on…Oh dear. Was I ranting?
NA: Do you write music or lyrics first? How would you describe your creative processing general?
Dean: Music. Then lyrics. I start with drum patterns/beats or synth/guitar riffs. Sometimes I start with some atmospheric samples and drone type sounds and keep building on that until a solid track begins to form. After I have completed a track, I will listen to it over and over until I get a feel for the style of vocals and then I start writing lyrics. Usually, whatever is on my mind at the time, usually something that’s pissing me off…will inspire the style of lyrics. Usually my lyrics are mysterious and rely on all sorts of imagery—religious and otherwise—and border on psychedelic. I write in such a way that a person will decide for themselves what it means to them.
NA: What’s an average day like for you?
Dean: I work. I keep my ‘real’ career separate from my musical pursuit. At least publicly.
NA: Are there hidden meanings in any of your songs?
Dean: Yes, but not in the sense that there is some twisted little secret code or something. Imagery comes to me as I proceed in writing lyrics. I just follow where the thoughts or better yet, as I said, imagery lead me even though there IS a general theme in my mind at the time…like as an example…a corrupt political system or something like that. Now, I do challenge, again in veiled language, certain things like hatred and bigotry and racism and elitism and deception etc.
NA: Do you collaborate with others? What is that process like?
Dean: Aside from Damla Bozkurt, I haven’t really worked with many people. That said, I did write lyrics and record vocals for tow songs for a band from Australia called CRIX IIIX.
LET’S GET WEIRD
NA: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Dean: A monk (hermit) in the desert, well…maybe.
NA: Alcohol or coffee?
Dean: Neither. I don’t drink and I don’t take products with caffeine because I don’t react well…
NA: Guilty pleasure?
Dean: If you’re guilty, it ain’t no fun. Mostly.
NA: California or New York?
Dean: Probably New York because you can be a cynical prick and fit in well. In Cali, even the Goths are kind of bubbly hippie people.
NA: This or that?
Dean: “That way too batshit crazy!”