Interview: David Mitchell Esparza of (((taco)))
With an eclectic ear and an adventurous demeanor, David Mitchell Esparza takes a broad-brush approach to interpreting the blues. Hailing originally from Querétaro, Mexico, and more recently relocated to Philadelphia, he juggles no fewer than three musical projects at once. His electric outfit The Love Club just released its latest EP, Of Love and Other Demons. Down in Claymont, DE, he melts minds with psychedelic outfit Empty Shapes. And under the stage name (((taco))), his solo work is sparse, acoustic, vaguely ambient and instantly open to collaboration. This Sunday, (((taco))) closes the 2011 Avant Garde Festival in Schiphorst, Germany, playing a collaborative set with Jean-Hervé Péron, founding member of krautrock pioneers Faust; you can stream the set from rockradio.de starting at 2 p.m. EST. Having just arrived in Schiphorst and still shaking off the jetlag, Esparza took a few minutes to answer our questions over e-mail, discussing the roots of the collaboration, along with his affinity for the blues, field recordings and snoring.
The Key: You played last year’s Avant Garde Festival as well, performing with Jean-Hervé Péron and Faust on the closing song of their set. How did you initially connect with Péron?
David Mitchell Esparza: We met back in September of 2009 when Faust came through Philly. This great DJ Yoni Kroll from WKDU had them on his show “Talk of the Town”. I was a DJ at the time and just swung by unknowingly. We saw each other through the studio window and he waved me in to sit in there while they played an acoustic set. Zappi was playing with a tin film canister, some bells and shells. JHP playing classical guitar, James playing electric through a pocket amp and Geraldine was playing her accordion. When they were done we did shots of bourbon, and went to the show. We kept in touch, I sent him songs, he liked them, we had a few conversations, and he told me about the festival last year where we bonded further. Everyone in Schiphorst is incredibly nice and Jean-Hervé Péron’s family and friends are some of the nicest and warmest people I’ve ever met.
TK: This year your solo performance is closing the festival itself, and Péron is joining you. Seems you fit well into “closing” scenarios. Why do you think that is?
DME: I like closing because it can prevent me from getting too rowdy before I play. Also, last year I played in the annex a few hours after Toys are Noise closed. I played till 1 a.m., completely spaced out. Midnight struck on July 5th, which is my birthday, and Jean-Hervé Péron brought everyone from outside up to sing to me, I downed a half a bottle of wine and then the last song was an “OOOOOOmmmmmmmmm.” That was easily one of the best times of my life, and I think everyone shared something the whole weekend and that last day. Lydia Lunch I think played that day, (first time I’d heard/seen her) the whole thing blew my mind. Great, that last day. So I like how this year is a little mirror of last year.
TK: What exactly do you have in store for this year’s collaboration?
DME: We’ll see, I guess… I’ve written a bunch of material, we’ve practiced some. I have this idea about using some field recordings, and snoring. We’ll definitely play “Your Devilish Son,” which is a new one we included on the Love Club’s CD as a hidden track. Other than that, people should just try to tune in on rockradio.de. I’ll also be recording it, so look out for some stuff later, and a listening party in Philly. I don’t know, we make plans and the Gods laugh.
TK: Your music is largely rooted in blues, whether it’s the dreamy psychedelic blues of Empty Shapes, the raw electric blues of The Love Club, your minimal acoustic solo work — even your fantastic eleven minute ambient collaboration with Phillipe Petite, “Song of Innocence,” has fingerpicked blues elements to its guitar part. Do you like blues because of its versatility? What else about it appeals to you?
DME: It’s definitely versatile. I don’t really know, it’s straight to the fucking point. It’s hard to say why something like that is so amazing. It’s repetitive, familiar. I feel like every culture has its own form of the blues, to some extent. In Mexico, we have corridos, folk songs with stories about the war and working as a slave to the wealthy, getting drunk, having a woman and losing her, murders and rapes. I think blues has a lot of the elements that humans relate to the most, or at least find the most interest. Violence and despair, trying to find happiness. How many Hollywood movies are about all of these things? It’s really entertaining and pulls at your heart.
TK: What other artists do you feel are kindred spirits, people you would love to collaborate with next?
DME: I LOVE Bombino of Agadez, I feel like he is the most relevant and soulful guitarist of today. James Blackshaw, I’d love to steal his tricks. I met T-Model Ford last year, and sat with him while he played in the hotel lobby of Kutchers at All Tomorrows Parties. If I ever see him again I’m sitting him down and we’ve gotta play. Even locally, I want to play with anyone and everyone we have some awesome people in town, everyone from Bardo Pond to Slutever – we plan on jamming sometime soon when we have time. There’s these kids the Skin Cells I’ve been listening to for a while too. Dig them, they’re like 17 or something. —John Vettese
You can stream (((taco)))’s performance at the 2011 Avant Garde Festival this Sunday, June 26, beginning at 2 p.m., on rockradio.de. (((taco))) next performs in Philadelphia July 19 at Danger Danger Gallery with Long Long Long, Lantern and The Living Kills.