Gabriel Stranahan [gabrielkungfu]
What do you do? What is your musical specialty?
What is a musical specialty? Everything has been done, and nothing is truly new. As a guitar player, to 'specialize' on an instrument that millions of others are proficient at in different ways means very little. I try to set myself apart in the ways that I compose, because the way that you play something is only important if WHAT you are playing is genuine to yourself
Do you work alone or in a group? If in a group, who are the others you work with?
In New York City, you'd expect to constantly be surrounded by brilliant musicians. But I've found that most people don't shoot for the sky- they shoot to please- a bar which the mainstream media has set almost unfathomably low. I'm lucky to be in a group with other very talented musicians who draw inspiration from their own creative powers, and not from those on the radio or on TV. My group is called Datura. I sing and play guitar, Jeremy Carroll sings and plays guitar, Steele Kratt is our drummer, and Matt Chilton is our bassist (formerly Patrick Flynn)
Is there a web address where one can listen, see, or read some of your work?
We are currently working on our first EP
My earlier and less matured work with the Strangers on the Footpath can be found at
Please list any awards, competitions, or other acknowledgments you would like to mention.
My band Datura has won the 'Most Awesome Band' award, 'Most Good Looking Frontman' award, and the 'Most Spiritually Enlightening Live Performance' award.
We most recently participated in a competition to impregnate a woman with a single riff, which my guitar player Jeremy Carroll took the first prize in by giving a woman octuplets with the use of an F 7th flat 9 chord, played with a Telecaster Thinline through a Concert Reverb
We won tickets to Malaysia for the whole band, plus our moms
Please list discography in which you have participated.
It is early days yet for Datura. Our first four track EP is being mixed and mastered at Rough Magic Studios in Brooklyn. You'll be able to find more on our EP soon at http://www.myspace.com/daturaNY
How did you begin making music? Who introduced you?
God spoke to me in person one stormy day when I was young. He came down, looked me in the eye, and said 'My son. Have you heard of Jimi Hendrix?'
I said, 'Yeah, he's pretty good'
What was your musical education?
We are born with music in our brains. We are predisposed to it. Almost every man on earth has at the very least the capacity to understand emotion in music. An education in music can mean anything from private lessons, a month-long intensive at the Berklee School of Music, to a particularly resonant lsd-induced experience
When did you realise that making music could be a way of life for you?
When I realized that I was pretty good at it.
I knew from high school that I didn't want to do anything in life that wouldn't be fun for me, even if I could make bundles of money that way. If I can't look back on the work I've done and say with honesty that I put my heart and my soul into it and that I loved doing it every step of the way, then I can't be satisfied
What is your creative process?
Hahahahaha what a stupid question, next please
When do you have your most lucid moments, in the morning or night?
I have different kinds of lucid moments. Late at night when my mind is a little weary is when I do some of my best lyrical writing. First thing in the morning is great for composing peaceful or ambient music. When the moon is out and I just can't sleep, that's a sign that I need to write something forceful, angry or passionate.
Or sometimes, all it takes is one good joint or hit of acid
Have you ever awoken with a melody created from your dreams?
Shit- thanks, you just reminded me that last week, that exact thing happened, but I forgot the fucking melody
How do you know when a song is finished or needs no more changes?
NO! Never! A song is never finished, and should ALWAYS be changing! I'll know that something needs no more changes when I've grown tired, depressed and stagnant and have completely lost my way
How did you discover your creative territory? How would you describe it?
I've been creative since I was a little kid, but my 'creative territory' has changed over the years. As a teenager, my creative territory was all about me me me. I've grown less selfish as a young adult, and much of my creativity comes from newer feelings of connectedness to the universe, meditations on life and humanity, and... time travel
What part of your job is your least favourite?
Cleaning up puke
How often do you practice?
Every day. I bring my guitar on the subway and play my songs. I jam with new people on every opportunity that I can. Technique is like riding a bicycle. Anyone can do it and you'll always remember it. I find that honing your creative mind is the more difficult and more important challenge
How do you feel right before going out on stage?
Which musicians or groups have been inspiring to your career?
It's difficult to answer a question like this. I take different things from different groups and musicians. To say that for example Jimi Hendrix has been inspiring to me would suggest that I want to play like Jimi Hendrix, when instead maybe what I meant to say was that it was Jimi's un-compromising passion for the music that he played is the example that he set for me.
I've found inspiration from Nine Inch Nails, God Is an Astronaut, Explosions in the Sky, The Morning After Girls, The Bones Royal, and many others
List three songs that are key to your life.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Entrails Ripped From a Virgin's Cunt spring immediately to mind
What should be done to stop piracy?
Nothing. Historically speaking, and in present times, Pirates have really been the good guys. For example, today, the British Royal Navy and allies are currently fighting pirates in Somalia- 'pirates' who are working hard to stop 'civilized' nations from dumping nuclear waste in their native waters, and to stop 'civilized' nations from killing or catching all of their fish, which is Somalia's single greatest resource and export.
If you believe in the existence of an 'honest' system, then you can naively call pirates the bad guys. And furthermore, the ends DO NOT always justify the means, so there are still two sides to the story. In the music industry, it's much the same. Many feel that both they and the artists are being exploited and robbed, and they don't want to pay money to support such an industry
And guess what? It's working. With the advent of the internet age, music has become much more accessible, and what is the result? Has the fact that I can download an album for free KILLED music? No! More live shows are being played now than ever before in history. More bands are able to make a living in a 'middle class' of the music industry that never previously existed.
The pirates have fought against an unjust industry, and the music industry has found no effective defense to stop them. So instead, the industry has been forced to change and to support live performances and tours and careers because they know that they can't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars bringing every band into a cutting edge studio to record an album that has no real chance to sell at 15 bucks a pop. People still love the music- MOST bands make their living playing live now, which is the way that it should be.
And even still, big record label mainstream bands still sell millions of records and sell out their shows. And look at a band like Radiohead, giving away their album for free, because they know that their fans will continue to support them enough that they'll always be able to make money and to continue their careers.
What type of music do you detest?
There is no 'type' of music that I detest. There are genres that I'm not generally thrilled about. I don't listen to a lot of rap or hip hop or emo or pop-punk music. But it's not the genre that I detest. I love Aesop Rock, I love Brother Ali... I love the Juliana Theory and Blink 182 and other bands that don't just copy and paste their lyrics into a pre-made market tested formula... because honestly, that formula exists in ALL genres of music, and ALL types of music have despicable artists who are just there to fill in the blanks and exploit a market.
What time did you get up this morning?
But honestly, people- there is NO REASON to be getting up at 9 30 in the morning, especially when the X Files are on every night at 2 AM. Honestly.
How do you sell yourself? What has been your experience with record companies and representatives?
With Datura, I want to take my music as far as it will go. I have an amazingly talented lineup, we have the capacity to really write great songs, and our music and our attitude are both un-compromising. I'll take any good deal that comes my way, hire any man who can take our music to new horizons, and sign any contract that will let me keep making the music that I want to make.
Selling out is NOT signing a big deal. Selling out happens as soon as you start making decisions for money and not for creativity, and that can happen with bands both big and small
What other things have you done to make a living?
I've waited tables, painted houses and modeled a little bit. Mostly I just had to be born to a relatively wealthy family. I'm not going to lie and pretend- my family's has been hugely helpful in letting me play music as a career choice, because it DOESN'T pay for itself right off the starting block
Have you ever played on the street or in the subway? How much did you collect each day?
I play on the subway at least three days a week, but never for money. Sometimes people hand me money anyway, which is always a huge compliment. You could suck and play on the subway, and people might still give you money just because you're asking for it and they think that you might need it. But when you're not even asking and somebody goes out of their way to thank you and to pay you, then you know that you've affected somebody's day in a positive manner and it feels really good
Who would you play with, without a doubt?
Eugene Hutz, Anton Newcombe, Flea, and Danny Carey
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
Don't compromise yourself, even when it seems like it's hard
Of what are you an addict?
My computer. Not cigarettes or any drugs, not soda or coffee, I even stopped eating meat all last month and I've come to understand that the only thing I'm really a slave to is my computer. I am on it constantly
A word or expression that you love.
And so. Because it's not quite and... but it's not quite so, either.
Do you believe it is true that humans only use 10% of their brain capacity?
No, because it's not true. It is a scientific myth
Do extraterrestrials exist?
The Truth is Out There.
I want to believe...
What books are you currently reading?
Just finished- The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by Phillip K Dick
1- Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
2- Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut
What is that special film you never tire of watching?
Ghost Dog. It's an incredible and beautiful movie by Jim Jarmusch about a black samurai in modern day Brooklyn
What is to come after consumist society?
Nothing good for our children or our grandchildren
Do you defend urban graffiti?
It depends. If you're just gonna tag your dumb-ass name and be gone, then get the fuck out of here, nobody gives a fuck who you are unless you can really make some amazing ART with your talent. Graffiti leaves so much room for social commentary, for artistic ingenuity, and absolutely has the ability to reach out and touch a passer by
Two-party systems are on the rise: is this good for politics?
Terrible. It allows the media to distort the facts by focusing on the competition, and not on the platforms that the candidates are running on
Does a state have the right to attack or intervene in another country that has not attacked said state, if the country has committed grave injustices or crimes against humanity?
I don't believe in it. Fighting violence with violence rarely works, and even if your intentions are just, your integrity is ruined, and you place a new burden upon future generations, who will only learn to carry the torch of aggression
Are there peoples more civilized than others? Or is it merely a question of cultural differences?
Look man, this is all I will say- I don't think it's the job of any nation to go and 'fix' another people for their supposedly 'barbaric' ways. Everyone will have their own way, and yeah, a lot of peoples, nations and cultures have pretty fucked up ways. It's not a racial thing or even a cultural thing- it is just the way that people are. Nobody has the right to say that their people's way is better than another people's, ESPECIALLY if they are making such a claim at gunpoint.
That being said, I certainly can't condone certain practices of some cultures. I just think that it is up to different cultures to work that out for themselves
Should consensual offenses such as drug use or prostitution be legalized?
Are you in favor of or against the death penalty?
Absolutely and indisputably against
Should homosexual couples have the same right to adopt as heterosexual couples?
This is one of the few issues in America that I would actually be willing to get in a physical fight over. Of course gays should have the same rights as straights
For you, what is "the good life"?
Any moment in which you're smiling is the good life
And the ones when you're not, even- as long as you are sure that you will be soon
What is the secret to happiness?
I dunno... have sex. But not unhealthy sex with people who you don't love. And also learn how to be comfortable with your own shortcomings... because sometimes, you'll have to deal with them whether you like it or not, so you might as well like it.
If the ticket price for a football match is twice the regular price for those 12 years of age or older, and your child turned twelve yesterday, what age would you say your child is?
New York City