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It is difficult to capture the sheer breadth of the band sound with easy generic labels. Can you explain how the sound came together and how it has evolved into what we hear on this album?
Nevaris A.C: The sound is built around the drums, bass and vocals more than anything else. Lockatron, Bill Laswell and I recorded those rhythm and voice tracks first and foremost. All the other tracks were overdubbed on top of that foundation. The extended improvisations are one of my favorite parts of the record and that was about Peter Apfelbaum. DJ Logic and Will Bernard getting a chance to stretch out musically over the foundation. So that combination is what made the sound what it is. We never really tried to make the songs fit within a certain genre. We were focused on taking each song where it needed to go to make sense musically. So it was improvisation built upon rhythm and syncopation. We had a good time making the record which I think comes through in the music.
It leads me to wonder what your musical background is. How did you come to make music as a career and have you always done this in NYC specifically?
Nevaris A.C: My parents were both classical musicians so music has always been a part of my life. I grew up with it. We lived in NYC for my whole childhood. My father sang Opera and sometimes worked music supervisor jobs for TV. My Mom is a classical pianist. I started writing songs when I was Nine. In high school, I started playing drums, guitar, bass and piano. I kind of surged in my ability to play different instruments over a very short period of time. I did the grind of playing low-end club gigs in NYC for a good while before I started to produce my own events which was really the way I was able to break into the business. I co-created the Uncomun events that were originally at Galapagos Art Space and have been held at other venues throughout NYC. Those events showed me what was possible in terms of creating and performing in multi-genre/multi-media performances and introduced me to most of the musicians I am working with today.
Lyrically, it pulls no punches with its political and social comment. Has this always been an important element or is it driven by the unprecedented times we find ourselves in?
Nevaris A.C: The political content was definitely driven by the events of the past four years. My previous album didn’t have any political songs at all. That being said I am already writing more so it is something that I plan to keep doing. There was a kind of horror while watching the 45th president get elected. The racism and hatred are just so outright it has compelled a lot of violence. There was a lot of hatred directed towards Mexican people directly especially in the beginning. I am Chicano/Mexican American on my mother’s side so it hit close to home. My grandfather was from El Paso and the murders in El Paso I attributed directly to the former President. So there was a process of trying to figure out how to move forward and exist under such circumstances. The creative outlet was important to channel that anger and frustration. I tried to stay active politically in different ways and part of that was through the political songs on System Breakdown.
Can you talk about Bill Laswell’s role in the project and what it is like to work with such an imminent and experienced musician?
Nevaris A.C: Bill was instrumental in bringing the project to life which was something that I didn’t take for granted. I’d been playing with drummer Lockatron for a while and we had a great sound going with just this very sparse combination of vocals with drums and percussion. I knew Bill well enough that he was willing to check out what we were working on but nothing beyond that was guaranteed. When he decided to get involved in the project it was very pivotal because he is a person that knows how to bring all elements of a project together. His discography speaks for itself. That includes bringing in great musicians such as Peter Apfelbaum and Will Bernard. I’d known DJ Logic for a while but had never worked with him. There was a great feeling having musicians come into the project with a very positive approach which I partly attribute to Bill’s involvement. That must be what it’s like to work with a great director in film. All the doubt and second-guessing kind of disappears from the creative process because everyone knows the product is in good hands. There’s a certain trust. I really felt that difference in relation to other projects I have worked on where you are always fighting to keep people inspired and to keep any doubt away from it. You are fighting your own doubt about it. There was literally none of that here. There were no outside influences or distractions. We were focused on the task at hand and I was 100% confident that it would come out well. Bill’s involvement was a huge part of that. I think that will only improve with the next recording.
What has it been like trying to get the word out about this album in this age of Covid-19?
Nevaris A.C: I’ve recorded music before that was well-received within a small NYC crowd but went nowhere beyond that. I’ve reached a point where it’s kind of pointless to keep operating like that.
It’s been a great experience working with Shameless (Promotions PR) because of the international nature of the response. It’s everything really because otherwise, I am just a musician writing and recording in my hometown where I have been almost my whole life. Some of my favorite press came from Italy where there were some really thoughtful reviews of the album. Also, there was some great press and radio coverage in the UK, Mexico and elsewhere. So I was excited to be involved in sharing something internationally but always representing NYC at the same time. And Shameless had everything to do with getting the music out there.
Musicians are really in our own world sometimes and I can be guilty of that. So we need people externally to help us get our art form out there. I think people are particularly receptive to recorded music during the Covid era because there is almost no live music happening. So it was good to be able to put a recording out during this time. And people seemed very receptive to the political aspect of the recording especially in some of the press.Many of the songs feel very free-form. How much is improvised and how much planned when you enter the recording studio?
Nevaris A.C: There was a combination of planned and unplanned elements. The lyrics and vocal melodies were all worked out ahead of time and which gave us a concrete starting point to work from. I had the rhythms worked out in my hands-on congas mixed with the melodies and the syntax of the words I was singing. So that was a kind of skeleton for the music. I am writing new material in the same way. There were some chord changes that I’d worked out ahead of time and Peter Apfelbaum wrote the horn lines for “No Justification” ahead of time. Virtually everything else was improvised though not in a completely free form way. For example, Bill is very methodical in how he works so we would focus on one section at a time while we were building up the overdubs. So there was always a strategy. Let’s add some horns, here, a solo here, etc. But within that structure, there was a lot of improvisation. And between sessions, Bill and I were in communication a lot which was part of the creative process. So there was a lot of planning and coordination mixed with openness and creativity.
Loud Apartment is made up of all sorts of music traditions and all manner of technologies. What is it like to have such a melting pot of styles, sounds and eras and how does that drive the sound?
Nevaris A.C: Lockatron, Bill Laswell, DJ Logic and I are all either from New York or have been living and working here for decades. So there’s a lot of NYC in the sound organically and authentically. It’s definitely not something that we were trying to create. It’s just the sound that happened naturally. Lockatron brings a lot to the sound as a drummer and he’s from the great breakdance tradition of NYC as both a musician and a dancer. Bill Laswell’s history in NYC speaks for itself including introducing aspects of the NYC sound to the world for the first time. DJ Logic brings a ton to the mix as well. The sound would not be the same without his involvement. So it’s really cool to be collaborating with this group of creators. There’s a certain consistency to the album including using the same six musicians for everything with pretty much the same gear. But there are so many different places we can go musically with those ingredients and think that will continue to increase when we get together next.
And once lockdown restrictions are lifted, what are you looking forward to most, both in terms of music and personally?
I look forward to getting back in the studio and on stage without masks or fear. I can’t wait for that day. I look forward to sitting down in some random New York pub for a proper meal and some drinks without even thinking about it.
In the meantime, please come check out our music at
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and good luck with everything in the future
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