Since releasing their second EP, Vahum, in April 2015 and sharing their smoky video for “Settle Down” featuring Vanessa Zamora, Tijuana-based indie rockers Glasmus recently shared their second video “Downer.” The track itself transmits the same lingering sense of loneliness that we experienced with “Settle Down,” but it has an undertone of existential despair that we see in physical form in the video as the protagonist eventually meets her doom. The five dudes of Glasmus – hybrid of “glass” and “museum” – are MagDalen, Móosni, Mousiky, Macondo, and Moncho. We had the luck of catching up with MagDalen and Mousiky of the M-fest to talk about their new video “Downer,” EP’s catchy name, musical influences, 2016 plans, and most importantly, why they all start with “M.” Móosni joined the party last minute:
Can you give us a brief background of the inception of Glasmus?
MagDalen: I was in a post-punk band for 10 years and we were starting to work with this producer who was friends with Mooussiky and when my band imploded, we started talking about making music together and two months later, Glasmus was formed out of the ashes of our previous bands.
Mousiky: Yeah, we were in previous bands. Glasmus is now four years old; we became a band in 2011. So we started the band thinking about what we were going to put out in 2011 and we spent that year working on our EP, videos, graphics, and everything. We put out the EP in 2012 and played a bunch of shows to promote it and we released our second EP last year.
Talking about your EP, what does the title mean? I know the word is not in the dictionary…
Both: That’s actually intentional!
MD: We made it up just like we made up Glasmus. We like to make our own kind of language since we can appropriate the word and give it our meaning.
Mous: So Vahum is a word that we made up. He (pointing at Roland) gave me a bunch of words scrambled up and we wanted to decide upon a word that looks like it means something, but doesn’t and it’s related to the creative process. It’s like naming that specific time and frame on a day where you have a creative input or an idea of how you name that specific part of the day, so ‘Vahum’ is specifically that creative process at the same time the artwork and the songs in general are talking about the balance between being a musican/artist and having everything else – your day, your normal job, your relationship, etc. Keeping a balance between those two things.
Who came up with the concept for the music video “Downer”?
MD: It was the director. It was really hard because it took at least two months to settle on an idea and he interpreted the song’s lyrics really different from my mindset when I was writing them. And I liked that approach because it meant something completely different for him.
Mous: Yeah, visually it takes a little bit out of the lyrics about someone giving another person a warning sign about impending doom out of the decisions in someone else’s life. The video kind of swirls around that. It focuses on a girl remembering the past. It’s not directly linked to the lyrics, but it’s more like the director’s interpretation of the song.
MD: Cus he came out with some weird religious imagery when we were talking about making the video and I was just trying to stay away from that since that’s not really a part of me, personally. Even though our culture in Mexico is really religious and all that stuff, I come from a generation that is starting to leave all that behind, so I didn’t want to really touch that.
When you were filming the video, did you guys have to reach an agreement or argue over some concepts with the director?
MD: I wouldn’t say argue, we just wanted to find a common ground. I love collaborations, finding little compromises so that we’re both happy that the visuals really go with the song and we’re really meticulous with the videos we put out. We always make sure that the visuals are good fit with the music.
Mous: Plus he’s a friend so he did the past four videos of the other EP. We kind of give them the opportunity to take the concept that they want to take and we just participate a little more in the editing process. When they have all the takes and stuff ready, MagDalen (Roland) gets a little bit more involved in the editing process and that’s when it can take a little longer because they all have scrapped ideas of what the video is going to be, but eventually it lands into his hands to finish editing. So this time around, on this EP, we worked with another friend who did the “Settle Down” video and we gave him the same blank-slate freedom on where to start in conceptualizing the video. Betweem him, Rick, and MagDalen, they deid the video – I haven’t been that involved in this one.
MD: Yeah, I didn’t want to be preachy and trying to pigeonhole the meaning of the song, cus I love when people reinterpret my lyrics. I don’t want my literal definition to ruin for what it means to them and how it applies to their specific lives, so I love that the director has all the input he wants to reinterpret my words.
Which artist would you like to see do a remix or cover of your songs?
Mous: I love a lot of artists from the Warp Records from the UK. Boards of Canada, Aphex Twins, Squarepusher, I mean obviously we would be stoked if any of them chose one of our songs from that roster.
MD: Yeah, Squarepusher version of our song would be really cool cus we grew up in the 90s. So those artists are, at least for me, the most that I’m invested.
Mous: Obviously we like a lot of electronic music. I listen to rock music, but I’m more into techno, EDM, house, etc. While I do listen to some rock music, my main influences are electronic.
Singing in English helps you guys to reach out to fans abroad, but in a way it can limit your domestic outreach. What are the pros and cons of singing in another language?
Mous: In Mexico it is a little limiting for some people, but it varies. I think if you have a tight live show, it limits you less because you’re projecting energy more than songs. People sometimes don’t get the lyrics of the bands that they do know [in their language] cus they’re watching live, so they’re not even getting the lyrics. They’re getting the full energy or the whole output of the band, so for us it is important to have really good energy and tight set up of our live music. We have the luck that if we sing in English for an audience here or the US, it’s kind of the same response. If they get it, they get it.
MD: Yeah, plus it’s weird because it’s not really an issue in TJ (Tijuana) where we live. That’s why we sing in English because we grew up listening to music in English, it was part of our culture. Even some TV shows were in English.
Mous: Yeah, maybe it applies to us more because we are a border band.
MD: Yeah, it can be issue in the interior part of Mexico where English is not such a common language. We do get a lot of questions about it [in there], but I don’t know. Maybe the next record will be in Spanish.
Mous: That’s the whole thing. The next EP, LP, or singles that we’ll be working on can be in Spanish because it is actually a challenge to actually write lyrics in your own language. Obviously, you are connecting to them quicker because you’re understanding them faster. But I think it is trickier to write in Spanish…writing lyrics in Spanish is a little more complex than English.
MD: We’re just more familiar with it because I grew up listening to music that my parents used to listen to like The Clash, David Bowie, The Stooges, Cream, and all the good stuff. Music was just in English for me. But like he said, I think it’s a challenge that we would love because personally I don’t think there is really good rock music in Spanish. Sometimes they feel too forced or weird for me, so whenever I hear a band that does it well, I get happy. Because I think that type can transcend beyond borders and it’s a challenge. Cus the language is so complex and the words can be too long. I love when people can make great records in Spanish and hopefully we can do the same.
What are your plans for 2016?
Mous: We’ll be working on what we were talking about. We’re not sure if it’s going to be an EP or LP or singles, but it’s going to be in Spanish. We are consciously trying to go back to Mexico City and Southern Mexico, the Latino market in general of our music. While we like playing and making music in English, we noticed that maybe the specific mix of music that we make is not very present in the music scene nationally. So we actually want to take the other way around – we started this band trying to push it to the States and maybe other countries, but when we went down to Mexico City, we noticed that there’s not a lot of band that have the type of music we want to push. So we want to have a little more presence in our home country.
Finally, is it serendipity or intentional that all of you guys have names or nicknames that start with “M”?
MD: (laughs) It’s total coincidence!
Mous: I used my nickname since the beginning of 2000. I was playing in another band and we all had specific nicknames for each of the band members. His last name is his nickname–
MD: Yeah, Magdaleno
(Móosni, who got stuck in traffic enters)
Móosni: Sorry I’m late. So yeah, Móosni is actually sea turtle. It’s like a native Mexican turtle.
MD: Moncho is like…that’s how you call people named Ramón over here and Macondo is–
Mó: It’s a town in a book by Gabriel García Márquez, Cien Años de Soledad (A Hundred Years of Solitude).
MD: Yeah, his dad is this crazy hippie and he wanted to name him that, so that kind of stuck.
All: It’s total coincidence.
That explains why Móosni was late.