Glittering prize

Pub date May 27, 2009
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

One shorthand description of Ramona Gonzalez’s recording project Nite Jewel is that it’s disco on quaaludes. I don’t know if I like Nite Jewel quite as much as Glass Candy’s underrated B/E/A/T/B/O/X (Italians Do It Better, 2007) — c’mon, they’re funnier than they are given credit for, and they made "Computer Love" melancholic, what’s not to love? — or if I love it more.

Throughout Good Evening (Gloriette, 2008) and Nite Jewel (Human Ear, 2008) Gonzalez’s singing is both high-pitched and kinda dazed. On "Weak 4 Me," she reminds me of Mr. Bill, which can never be a bad thing. "What Did He Say" is the best Nite Jewel song so far. It sounds like a radio playing "I Can’t Wait" by Nu Shooz slowly sinking to the bottom of a pool. I recently caught up with Gonzalez on the phone.

SFBG I hadn’t realized you’re from the Bay Area. How was Berkeley High? What did you like about the Bay Area and not like about it?

Ramona Gonzalez Berkeley High when I went there was transitioning between being out of hand and horrible and pretty much a normal school. Now it’s nice. Back when I went, it was not like that. There were 23 arson attempts when I was a sophomore.

Certain teachers I had there were some of the best ones I’ve ever had. As for the school itself — fuck, it’s hard for a kid to get along in a 2300 person student body. Lots of aggro annoying kids, popularity contests and danger, everyday. But overall it was rewarding.

SFBG How were your experiences in the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir and the Berkeley Jazz School Music Ensemble?

RG Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir was pretty awesome. My friend Emily introduced me to it, because her dad was singing in the adult choir. The songs are incredible and really difficult — the girls in that choir were unbelievably talented. I wasn’t as good as them. Singing soprano in a chest voice — that’s crazy.

I did that for 2 years and then joined the Berkeley Jazz school, just taking piano. I ran into one of the girls from the Youth Choir there.

SFBG You’ve said Kevin Shields would be a dream artists to work with.

RG I got into my shoegaze period in college and started listening to Lilys whenever possible. Me and my friend Shane tried to start a fan club.

One of my favorite bands is Woo. Their It’s Cozy Inside (Independent Record Publishing, 1989) and Whichever Way You’re Going, You’re Going Wrong (no info available) might be the two albums I’ve listened to the most in my entire life. They’re these two brothers who are Hare Krishna who live in the UK. I recently found out where they are, and they wrote me back and we’re totally going to hang out when I go to England.

SFBG We have to talk Bruce Haack. What do you love about him?

RG Bruce Haack to me is psychedelic electronic music. It also has a playfulness, because he’s making music for kids. His music has this relaxing quality and aggressive quality at the same time. There’s a simplicity I like. I like his fervor and bitterness towards the music industry, especially on Haackula (Omni Recording, 2008). But the one I listen to most is Electric Luficer (Omni Recording, 2007). His music doesn’t have a direct correlation with Nite Jewel in terms of textures and sounds, but more in terms of what it means to be a punk electronic musician.


With Telepathe, Hawnay Troof

June 12, 10 p.m., $10

Bottom of the Hill

133 17th St, SF

(415) 621-4455