Interview with Guillermo Pizarro

Guillermo Pizarro is one of the best upcoming talents in experimental music and sound. Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of watching him go from a (primarily) guitar-based drone artist to expanding into more adventurous sound exploration. He's gone from a quiet, inward performer to someone whose live presence has become increasingly captivating for those witness to both his use of a wall of sound, and a wall of silence, in the right doses.

I have had the privilege of having Guillermo as a tour-mate twice this year. There are few (literally) people that I can stand to travel with for an extension of hours/days/weeks. Mr. Pizarro is one of those few.

It is my pleasure to introduce, Guillermo Pizarro.

Before you got in to experimental music, what types of music had you played?

I was mostly involved in the metal scene. The main band I was a part of was a progressive death metal type of band with some world music and drone elements that started to sneak their way into our sound, especially towards the end.

What was your first exposure to experimentalism?

I used to be a member of the Guitar World forums and I remember one of the posters there had mentioned Merzbow, sunn O))) and Xasthur. Those names just stuck out to me, especially the O))) symbol. I wanted to know what their deal was. I didn't like any of it at first, but it definitely made an impression. I remembered Merzbow because of how much I disliked it. Why would anyone listen to that? For me though, sunn O))) made it all click and helped close the gap between metal and experimentalism.

From the first recordings I heard of yours, to recent work and have definitely changed up your methods. Guitar-based drone to manipulating objects, voice, and blasts of noise... What has motivated this progression, and what drives you, creatively?

I think a combination of striving for that personal growth and being around my peers has helped with that progression. Like most, I take a little bit of all my influences and mix it up in a pot to make my own.

I'm very driven by my surroundings and personal experiences. Some people really dislike a small town and complain that there is nothing to do, and sometimes they are right; there isn't much to do, but I like to be proactive about it and try to get something happening instead of complaining. I love the sleepy little town that I live in and I think it's responsible for a big part in my sound.

So, why bother with experimental sound? Why not just join a metal or hardcore band like everyone else around your locale?

It's just not in me. When I was in a metal band it felt so forced and unnatural. The other guys in the
band did great though. I started feeling what they probably felt when I started experimenting. I had found the voice I wanted to work with and craft.

How does your current pursuit allow you to better express yourself?

Hmmm… this is tough to word. The sound and emotion I'm trying to convey just matches. It allows me to go to that state of mind needed for me to express myself without sounding forced. I might not like the final product, but it would be less cringe inducing than trying to write a metal song about it.

Do you see yourself creating/performing in the experimental realm, exclusively, years down the road?

Yes and no. I think I'll always be involved in the experimental realm, but I don't see myself being exclusive to it. That's a little too final. I'd love to eventually take what skills I'll hopefully pick up and apply it to some weird, experimental folk type of setting. I'm a huge Tom Waits fan and even though he's a direct influence on me now, I'd love to further apply that influence into something new.

This year, you released Glasswerks. But, only half of it is made up of glass manipulation, right? Talk a little about the release?

This is true, only the title track is made up of glass, but I thought it was the strongest of the 2. The "werks" part of Glasswerks is supposed to represent anything metallic going on in the recordings, which both tracks have.

Recording for Glasswerks started in November of 2012 and ended in April of 2013, two sessions. It was my first time recording anything in many years. Kenny from Mystery Ton Studios had just opened up shop and was looking for clientele, so I jumped at the opportunity. I knew Kenny's band; Time Columns dabbled in some experimentalism and psychedelic sounds so I thought it would be a good match. I really think that studio is a big part of my sound, he provides a lot of tools at my disposal that I wouldn't have otherwise along with a warm, homey environment that I like when creating.

As for the release itself, I was going through some uncertain and confusing times in my personal life. I think the 1st track is representative of that. Turmoil mixed with some serene, unworried sections. The title track to me represents the breaking and the birth of something new.

You started touring as a solo artist this year. What has it been like performing these pieces live? How has the responses been?

It's definitely different live, I usually record my pieces in a way where I can't perform them the same way in a live setting, but I like that. It creates another challenge for me and it still gives the performance that unique "one time only" feel of an improv piece.

I think the response has been great the majority of the nights. It's always nice when the audience can sense that these pieces are conceptual and not just thrown together. In the end though, I'm my worst critic and I'm always looking for ways of improving.

I know you've been recording a good bit this year. What can we expect of the new material, and when can we expect it?

Shorter, concise pieces without losing their density and power is my goal for this new material. Spoken sections will also be incorporated, nothing too manipulated. I have been recording a lot, but so far I only have a short EP of Zack Kouns material for his 365 songs project and a 2nd full length. Some of those Kouns songs will most likely make it on to a split that I owe SEVEN1878. The 2nd full length will also have a DVD to go with it of a short film that my cousin, Diego Tipacti has been working on for months now. I'm shooting for a spring 2014 release and that will probably be it for major releases for that year as I don't want to over saturate my discography.

What is the next step for you, artistically?

I've barely made a dent in what I have to say in the experimental/noise genre, I'll definitely continue down that route and challenge myself. The spoken stuff is still very, very new to me and there is so much room for improvement. Other than solo work, I still see myself continuing guitar experimentation
BLK TAG by Basha Teez
with Arterial. Arterial has definitely been a liberating project for me in that I'm able to focus solely on the guitar, but I still have the satisfaction of using other methods for solo material.

There is the occasional BLK TAG (Chris Videll & James S. Adams)  performances that I take part in as well. That's a fun outlet for me, too. I usually utilize guitar for BLK TAG and I'm able to satisfy my drone hunger through them.

There is also a bit of talk about collaboration between Gleb Kanasevich and I. I don't have much information on that yet other than modified clarinet will be utilized with a healthy dose of noise. I can promise that it'll be a wild trip.

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