The Genie: An Interview

February 28. 2005 | By Jason Jurgens

If San Francisco were a bottle, then self-proclaimed “scratch guitarist,” The Genie, would be the mystical apparition in its belly, (sorry to play the name pun). His magical guitar style leaves you wondering, “How’d he do that?” At times it looks like he’s playing “Simon Says” or “Etch A Sketch.” He’s constantly manipulating buttons; flip flopping the guitar and pressing a pedal–with the expression of a seductive snake charmer on his face.

With nothing more than a milk crate, guitar and loop machine he produces a sound a bit like Santana on an acid trip in a field of sub woofers. If you haven’t seen The Genie, make sure you bring a rag to wipe the drool from your opened mouth.

Owl: Why the name Genie?

Genie: I appreciated what the genie represents on a symbolic level, the spiritual force that’s hidden inside of us that can either be accessed or remain imprisoned like a genie in a lamp. In that sense, I believe everyone has the power of a genie inside of himself or herself.

Can you grant wishes?

When I consider that doing what I’ve done with my music was my dream come true, I would say my wish was granted.

Kirk Hammet or Eddie V?

Kirk Hammet and Eddie Van Halen, along with Randy Rhoads and Slash were my initial guitar hero’s back when I was a teenager.

What does scratch guitar mean?

1) I make everything from scratch–I come to my shows with nothing pre-recorded and do everything live 2) In my shows I often mimic turn-tablism techniques, which are generally equated with scratching. Basically, from a musical perspective, I use the same syncopation techniques that scratch DJ’s utilize when I’m soloing, building songs live, or performing my version of beat-juggling.

How do you feel about the SF music scene?

I don’t think it’s the same city that produced Santana, Faith No More, Metallica, or Grateful Dead. I feel the scene to a degree reflects what San Francisco has become–extremely expensive, trendy, and gentrified.

What is more important-making money or making art?

In my life, I would say that making art is definitely the most important thing for me.

What equipment do you use?

Guitar: American Fender Strat Plus, Line6-DL4 Delay Modeler (my loop machine), Sansamp GT2 (direct box)

How do you name a song without lyrics?

To name these songs I basically meditated on the meaning and feeling I was trying to convey with the music, in a way that was apropos and memorable. In a way the fact that the songs have no lyrics makes the creative process cool because it forces text onto a textless format, which makes way for all sorts of interpretive possibilities for the listener.

What can we expect from the Genie in 05?

I’m currently working on a project with a local producer named Ryan (www.drysquid.com, www.opusfreqlabs.com) who has produced various releases with noted LA underground hip hop artists and has made headway in Japan and Europe. After that it’s back to Montreal in July to begin working with my producer DJ Horg, on my follow up solo CD, my first full-length album.

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