Taking It One Game At A Time With Televangeles
Welcome to the seventh edition of the IMF Artist Profile, a series dedicated to the Indie Music Feedback community. The goal of this series is to take a look at the personal lives of some of IMF’s biggest contributors, giving you a peek into who they are as human beings. We’ll pull back the curtain as far as our guests allow and hopefully we will all walk away with a better understanding of the music these individuals are creating as we learn more about them.
For those who don’t know, Televangeles is an up and coming producer who has already made some good impressions in the community with not only his musical talent but his feedback as well. Josh, a Rhode Island native, has spent a good amount of his formative years moving from place to place within the United States. Primarily growing up in LA, Josh left the US after college to visit Budapest and eventually moved to London, England where he has been living for quite some time. As a human rights lawyer, Josh practices law working against surveillance and other issues that tech has spawned. Here he lives with his wife and two lovely children who are the center of his universe. In addition to laying down some pretty intense synth-wave beats and incredible remixes, Josh is getting back into playing baseball.
If you haven’t head his music yet, I highly suggest you head over to his SoundCloud and start with Süss Fel Nap (named after a club in Budapest). His unique blends clearly call back to his years traveling between the US and abroad. There is so much of LA and London in this track, it’s a true cityscape. But what I like most is his ability to subtly add layer upon layer to fill out the background of each track. Over the course of this profile, we will talk to Josh about his work, inspiration, and what matters to him personally.
Now onto the questions:
Baaz: OK, Let’s cut right to the chase…What is the greatest band of all-time, in your opinion?
Televangeles: Great question — glad you asked. It is without a doubt Nosferatu D2. Now you know.
Baaz: As a relatively new member of the IMF Community, what would you say is the biggest advantage of joining a group like this for you personally?
Televangeles: Honestly, there are so many. I think this place is a small miracle, and I’m seriously in awe of the energy of the folks who organise it all. One of my first days on here, I put out a question about samplers and Starcry — who I’d never spoken to at that point — is just like — hey let’s jump on a video and I’ll walk you through it — we all love helping! That was the moment when I think I realised I’d found a special place.
Trying to learn on your own, watching endless YouTube videos by wankers who make crappy music but swear they know the answers to everything music, it’s all just really hard to navigate. And the internet is full of jerks oftentimes, people who try to make themselves feel bigger by trying to put you down for not knowing stuff. So this place feels pretty special, especially with the emphasis on feedback. I try to feedback as much as I can when time permits because I know how valuable that is to me. You can really tell it’s a place for and by people who are legit turned on by the joy of creating. I think that’s wonderful. I did a really fun project last week helping my son remix some Minecraft Youtubers he is obsessed with at the moment. It was really cool being able to get feedback from IMF and use some of the stuff I’ve been learning on here for something that legit made my son happy. Pretty special.
Personally, I’ve always had a sort of tortured relationship with my creative side. I don’t know why but I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to accomplish certain things I thought were important — and mostly still do — but I also had a bad habit of not allowing myself to indulge my creative side, because it felt sort of decadent like I should be spending my energy on more practical things. As a result, music has been something that’s always been around in my life, but sort of a hobby I was willing to date, but not marry…if you know what I mean. But I’ve gotten to a place in my life now where I take personal happiness much more seriously. Letting myself take my creative side seriously is some of the best medicine I’ve found. Learning, in general, is sort of my passion, and I’m never as happy as when I’m learning something new. I don’t just mean like reading books or anything, but just having new experiences, meeting new people, deepening my understanding of the world and how it works. So just learning to be able to create a track that sounds a little like something in my head feels like a superpower, it’s very addictive, and nothing helps me learn more than other people, so this place seems like it is going to be a force for good in my life for sure.
There’s a cheesy inspirational quote I heard from a friend that is very relevant to how I approach music production, “That which impedes your task, is your task”.
Baaz: Your music has a pretty distinct Synthwave influence to it. The song Stadtpark (feat. Flora Lin) specifically has killer vocals and all the right background layers to end up dripping in nostalgia. When creating something like this, where are you pulling your ideas from for all the subtle additions?
Televangeles: Honestly, for that song my secret weapon/muse is Flora. When I made that beat I didn’t really think it had song potential, but she heard it, and she was totally right. I owe a huge debt to her in general for this latest resurgence of interest in music — not to mention for introducing me to IMF. I had been in a lull for quite a while when we met, where I had not found the right collaborators and was really struggling for inspiration, and frankly not advancing much on my own, just half-heartedly making stuff for the desk drawer with no real incentive to hone my skills or get any better. The last half-year or so we’ve been working together has been just one of the best creative and learning periods in a long time at least since my last band broke up about a decade ago. We are working on 4 tracks for an EP now. Got a few on the ropes that I just need to finish up and it is going to be epic. Having the right collaborator can make all the difference.
In terms of the sound, I never really set out to make synth-wave. To be honest, I’m pretty skeptical of 80’s nostalgia in general. Everyone thinks it was all edgy new wave and classic hip-hop, but having lived through it, it was also Richard Marx and Warrant and the absolute worst schlock you have ever heard. But the genre slowly grew on me. I don’t tend to think of it as retro so much as a certain old-fashioned take on futuristic if that makes sense. But I would love to work on other styles too. I listen really broadly. When Flora and I started working together I was actually shopping an alt-country track, so I’m pretty all over the place.
In terms of the additions to Stadtpark, I used a lot of found sounds like hydraulic machinery and such that I got off freesound.org. I kind of had a mental image of a video in my head when I was searching — it took place in a set resembling a factory — and I kind of went out searching for that ambiance. It’s weird, but even though I’ve always been really into found sound, I only recently started working with samples in any proper sense. Dunno, I just really like sound. I like art in general — visual, literature, whatever, but definitely, for me music just always resonated the most. Like, if you’re working in sound, you already have a huge head start in my book. Like all day I’m kind of keeping this running part of the brain just listening — rustling my keys in my pocket, tapping on keyboards — I’m always listening to the soundtrack a little. Sometimes I like to try to imagine what the total sound of a city is and see if I can hear it. I mean, I live in London, and each bus that trundles by is fairly loud on its own. When you think about all the ambient noise that we no longer hear living in a city — thousands of buses from Ealing to Essex — what is the total noise of a city? What if you could just cut it out? How much quieter would it get? What would it sound like? I think about stuff like that sometimes.
So yeah, sound fascinates me. I think that’s why as a listener I’ve always been quite omnivorous. I’d like to get to a place where I could be confident enough to take more risks, be more experimental as a musician as well. I really enjoy that kind of thing. My idea of a good night out is to go see whatever’s on at Cafe Oto — an experimental music place near where I live. One time it was a dude playing a broken CD player that skipped from inside the men’s room. I thought it was awesome. But a lot of it just legit sounds amazing too. Sound can say things that words can’t. I’ve never spoken with him, but I’ll say here that I really dig Buddog’s music on here. I really admire his creativity, and it was cool to learn more about him from your blog, so good on you for doing these.
Baaz: It sounds like you’ve traveled and lived in quite a few places in your life. What brought you to Budapest? Would you recommend traveling there? If so, what must a visitor do while in Budapest to fully enjoy it in your opinion?
Televangeles:. Budapest — and Hungary in general — are pretty special places IMHO. I spent a couple of years there and really do love it. It’s going through a bit of an unfortunate period politically at the moment, but who isn’t? And politics aren’t the reason to visit. I think living there, meeting Hungarians, learning about the history and culture, it’s really shaped my worldview. There is some great music from there as well — Bartok and Kodaly and Liszt, etc… but also the folk music is really cool, and there are few classic pop albums — highly recommend one called Levél Nővéremnek by Cseh Tamas and Masik Janos. It’s a concept album I’ve loved for years but my Hungarian is so busted I have no idea what it’s even about. Also fantastic film — check out Szerelem (Love) by Karoly Makk and Szerelmesfilm (Lovefilm) by Istvan Szabo are my personal faves, and if you’ve never seen Mephisto — that’s a doozy as well, and pretty relevant to our time. But yes, would definitely recommend visiting. Tons to see and do in Budapest. Be sure to check out Buda if you go, not as many attractions but it has a different vibe than the centre of Pest. I highly recommend the Children’s Railway. It’s a kind of odd small gauge railway run by children. And of course, the food…especially if you indulge in meat. Also lots of good stuff further afield. I haven’t been in years, but Transylvania is still one of the all-time coolest places I’ve ever visited. Le sigh…kinda crazy to be talking about travel right now.
Baaz: As a human rights lawyer, how have the recent protests over systemic racial and economic inequality in the United States been progressing in your opinion? Do you think that real change will come within the US as a result?
Televangeles: Today I’m optimistic. Definitely not every day — I’m painfully aware that in US history, in my lifetime and further back, gains for equality have usually been followed by vicious backlash. That’s just my personal take. I don’t really think being a human rights lawyer gives me any particular insight though, to be honest. People sometimes think about social change and human rights as if there is a set recipe for how to change a society. For sure, it’s relevant — if a country is having a huge problem with human rights, odds are things aren’t going to go in a good direction politically, but I’m not convinced it gets much more granular than that to be honest. I reckon it’s far more complicated — the way economies are complicated — because they’re made of people and their individual choices, hopes, etc… In terms of my personal view on it all, honestly, normally I wouldn’t want to get too political on a music site, but times being what they are, it sort of feels like duty when you’re handed any kind of platform. So yeah, since you’ve handed me the mic, yes, I’m pretty excited about the protests. I’m into equality and strongly dislike injustice. I really hope no one is offended by that, on many levels. But I’ve heard a few great tracks on this site about this historical moment, so I think everyone’s thinking about it now, it’s just kind of in the air everywhere.
The issues in the protests are ones really close to my heart. Racism and inequality, for sure, but also the insanity and cruelty of the US justice system — which are linked of course. I’ve worked on a lot of different issues in a lot of different parts of the world, but this is the stuff that got me in the game, though to be honest I can’t say it’s where I’ve put most of my energy professionally. I’ve done a lot of work on discrimination in Europe and other places, and it’s also something I care a lot about. But something about the particularly American brand of injustice really gets to me, the way we’ve continued to double down on punishment for so long until we’ve gotten into this insane position with a justice system so cruel no one would ever dare suggest creating it if it didn’t already exist — the way we devote so much of our collective energy to this has always disturbed me in a way nothing else touches. I guess that’s just how it is with being from a place. I’ve been fascinated by prison abolition and issues like that for a long time, so it’s really heartening to me to see these ideas getting a broad audience finally. It’s amazing to see the actual changes taking place in government, in business, in culture. Some of it is ridiculous of course — I think it’s fair to say that things like Aunt Jemima are a distraction as compared to stuff like police killings, but there are some very real changes happening too, politically. I think the awful way so many cops behaved in those early days — and still in many cases — brought a lot of people on a side that otherwise might not have. Whatever happened in the past, I’ve never seen so much of my country rise up and demand justice before — and have it work! It’s wildly exciting. The size and scale of it all is really moving to me. But the backlash brewing is terrifying as well. People are out and out defending the Confederacy and even going full Nazi. In a way, I’ve always thought that’s what we were arguing about — the white resentment that’s been stewing since Reconstruction. It’s scary to see it being talked up so openly now. But US democracy is not terribly representative, in terms of voting, when you think of the trajectory of things: gutting the Voting Rights Act, gerrymandering, new restrictions on voting, Citizens United, racist felon disfranchisement laws, etc… so when you see how many people seem united in support of the protests, it gives me hope that the average American perhaps has a better outlook on things than our elections might otherwise suggest. Anyway, I have no idea if something is beginning or ending, or what it is, but I’m thrilled we’re having a serious debate finally. It’s been a long time coming.
For some educational materials, please consider the following books recommended by Televangeles:
Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett
If you are looking for a way to help the BLM movement on a global scale, please consider visiting https://blacklivesmatter.com/global-actions/
Or any of the following resources: