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Three Questions With Geneva Jacuzzi

The amazingly talented Geneva Jacuzzi answers Three Questions.

Photos provided by Ambar Navarro for Synth History.

Geneva Jacuzzi
Geneva Jacuzzi by Ambar Navarro.

Synth History: What are a few of your favorite synths?

Geneva: This may not be a popular choice but the synth I’ve used for 75% of my music is the OG MicroKorg. You wouldn’t recognize it though, because I haven’t used a single factory preset. I write over all of them with custom sounds I design. I found it to be the most practical machine considering that I used to be a crazy person and couldn’t keep track of gear or live in one place for longer than a few months. I despise synth plug-ins and never had a fast computer, so I needed something that was small, versatile and "bang-up-able". I even used it as an effects pedal for vocals. In fact there was a time in the early 2000s where I was so broke and all of my gear was gone or broken or whatever and the only thing I had was a MicroKORG and a one-track tape recorder. I figured out a way to layer a white noise drum arpeggio sound with a synth and vocoder input on one preset, so I could literally record drums, vox and music on one setting/track. I even got so good at programming the thing, that I could make it say certain words and phrases like “why me?” and “I don’t wanna” (laughs) such a little bitch.

geneva jacuzzi

My other favorite synth is the one I learned on, the Sequential Pro One. It was right around the time I started making music and my friend loaned me her's for a year or so. I remember knowing absolutely nothing about synthesizers and was forced to learn because after turning a few knobs, the darn thing would go silent half of the time and I had to figure out why. After a while, it became extremely intuitive and gave me a good enough understanding of how sound works to the point that I was able to pick up any synth afterwards and know my way around. Aside from the sentimental aspect, the thing sounds incredible!

Geneva Jacuzzi.

Geneva Jacuzzi Microkorg

Synth History: What are some of your biggest influences in terms of music and visuals?

Geneva: There are too many to list, but I tend to always go back to a very important time in my life when the world sort of opened up to me.

I was raised pretty conservative Christian, so was fairly sheltered from the world. But when I moved to LA at 18, I stumbled into a special scene of weirdos and was fortunate enough to meet some of the biggest music heads in LA who turned me on to some pretty obscure music, film, literature, etc. Now, let me mention, this is the year 2000 and there was no YouTube or even music blogs at the time. This is me walking into a Silverlake apartment with 10,000 records and 5,000 books , VHS tapes, etc., containing the most insanely curated collection of esoteric, philosophical, sonic and visual masterpieces guarded by a total shut-in hermit keeper of the scrolls. It was wild. Over the course of a year, I went from listening to Depeche Mode and Devo - who are still massive influences - to early Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Chrome, Sun Ra, Legendary Pink Dots, Art Zoyd, Virgin and Electric Prunes, Tuxedomoon, Fad Gadget, Aman Duul ll, Can, The Associates, Sisters of Mercy, Los Microwaves, this list could go on for centuries by the way. And the films... I remember watching Jodorowsky, Ken Russell, Argento, Cocteau and reading Alfred Jarry, Philip K. Dick, Lacan, Lovecraft, Lautreamont, Bauhaus Theater, Artaud, etc… Total whacky shit. I felt like Neo in the Matrix getting the massive download and then proceeded to take the secret knowledge and kung fu fight my way through a music career.

geneva jacuzzi

geneva jacuzzi

Synth History: As a solo artist, what are some tips for other musicians looking to bring their work in the studio to the stage - and can you recount one of your favorite live performances?

Geneva: I don’t know if I have any solid tips, but I will freely disclose my method of doing things. You need to start with the hunt. Look for the thing that speaks to you, personally. The thing that sparks your insides and gives you life. Then try to recreate it without knowing what you are doing. Don’t learn the techniques or the gear - sorry I know this is a gear focused magazine - but honestly, grab whatever tool you have lying around or on loan or at the local thrift store and try to recreate it. Start sloppy and under qualified and you will stumble on something different and something that is unique to you and the environment around you at the time. You will synthesize your own version of the “thing” that sparks life inside of you. Once you figure out your own “thing”, you can expand and grow and perfect. And buy the gear. (laughs)

I never set out to be a musician, I was just looking for my reflection and that led to inspiration and that led to experimentation and having fun with it. I’ve never been ambitious or pursued anything other than my own creative fulfillment and as a result, the career stuff came to me. This is weird advice, I know but it’s what I’ve always done.

With the live performance, I stumbled upon my “thing” by accident, I suppose. Ever since starting a “solo” project, I couldn’t stomach the thought of going out there and performing one of 12 tracks live or bringing in a band of musicians to back me up. It felt boring to me and wasn’t a proper representation of the music. I would go into such a dream world when recording, that the only honest and worthy thing I could think to do was to try to recreate that dream on stage somehow. That led to a whole other practice of performance art and installation. It was never my intention... it just had to be. The Gods demanded it, I suppose. From 2011-onward, most of my performances were scenes from an Art Play titled Dark Ages. I’ve staged multiple acts all over the globe and worked with artists and locals of each city to erect these radical one of a kind performances.

geneva jacuzzi

One of my favorite performances was in 2012 or 2013 at the Echo where I built an 8 foot giant microwave on stage, titled “Lucifer’s Leftovers”.

The microwave was even equipped with a spinning disc that I stood on. It was absolutely wild. Of course, the whole thing got destroyed by the end but I remember the magic in the room was exceptional that night. I had so many friends there, too, and nobody expected to see this massive construction assemble in 10 minutes on the stage. Definitely one of my favorite all time performances.

Geneva Jacuzzi Pro One.

References: Synth History Exclusive. Photos by Ambar Navarro. Camera assistant and lighting by Max Flick. PA Sky Cruz.


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