Interview with Justin Hinkley of the Battle Creek Enquirer

GARGANTA taps video to keep energy flowing

article by Justin Hinkley

KALAMAZOO -- Garganta is not a band. It is a live musical experience, a creature feature lovechild of 1970s-funk spontaneity and turn-of-the-millennium experimentation. They call it "jam-tronica."

"We've never really wanted to have a set list," founding member and video-DJ Kevin Brumm said of the live Garganta show. "We've probably played with a set list twice and just flubbed it up. We wanted to be able to have that freedom to just show up and do it and if we feel that people are into it we're gonna keep going with that and otherwise we're going to build around it let the night kind of rule where we went musically."

The band started two years ago in Big Rapids when Brumm, also called "the Laser," tried to fill what he saw as a void in the sonic wall of western Michigan. There was little electronica.

So Brumm, who had been compiling video art for local art bands, established a group of his own, with guitarist-keyboardist Josh Wilson adding old-school funk layers to the self-evolving dark electric disco Brumm turned out.

"Josh (also called "J-Dub") is just an amazing talent on the guitar," Brumm said. "I'll just throw out an idea and he knows where I want it to go, where I want to be and what he wants from it. We've both just loved the sound from day one."

Garganta moved through a few percussionists, playing private parties, until they found happiness with Kurt "Fote Moussa" Schmiege on the beats. Tired and financially strapped with the parties, the group "tried to see if they could make it as a band," Brumm said, and moved to Grand Rapids.

Since then, they've honed in on their flowing live shows at regional veues, their dark-humor-dance music iced by projected video clips, which Brumm mixes live.

"Whatever the emotion may be at the moment, I try really hard to emit that with the video so that people can kind of visualize what we're playing," the DJ said. "We don't want ourselves to be the main focus of what people are seeing."

The combination of energetic music and emotive visuals makes for something special, Brumm said. He described it this way:

"For the most part, it's just been about trying to maintain that energy," Brumm said. "We have always felt that we were like a creepy funhouse on the dance floor, a dark carnival kind of feel."

While live kineticism is where the group's strengths lie, Brumm said, the musicians are going for "... a bit more meaning to the songs" as they work on their debut album. They're adding lyrics to the mix, adding context to the tracks which are boundless live.

"The more involved we get with this, the more everything will eventually have more and more meaning to it," he said.

A bit like the free-form compositions, Brumm said he's not sure where he wants the project to go. But he's sure he'll be happy, his band will be happy and Garganta fans will be happy wherever they end up.

"It's been a tough road but for the most part it's been mostly fulfilling," Brumm said. "Because pretty much everybody that's had a chance to see us, whether or not you like the music or like the video, you're still, you're wowed by it."

Justin A. Hinkley can be reached at 966-0698 or jhinkley@battlecr.gannett.com.