Glass Apple Bonzai
Though just launching his project in 2014, Canadian synthpop enthusiast Daniel Belasco has been cranking out more music than most can ever think of producing. With three albums under his belt including his latest In The Dark, we chatted with Daniel about the new album, what he personally thinks of his work, and much more.
Hello Daniel, and welcome to Brutal Resonance! I'm new to Glass Apple Bonzai and many of our fans will probably be new to your project as well. Tell us who you are, what genres you perform, and what your favorite record of all time is.
Daniel: Hello! I'm Daniel Belasco, the main-cheese behind Glass Apple Bonzai. I've been writing and recording my own music for roughly twenty years under various identities. I'm from a mid-sized Canadian city of no consequence called St. Catharines. I make synthpop, and I'm very happy doing so. Favourite record of all time? Songs From the Big Chair by Tears For Fears
There are a countless amount of bands within the synthpop scene who hold the 80s in high regards and float the era as their dominate influence. How do you think Glass Apple Bonzai sticks apart from the pack? You draw from the 80s, but what makes the music different in comparison to both modern and classic albums?
Daniel: With Bonzai I'm not aiming to make modern sounding electronic music with dashes of 80s personality here and there for kitsch value. I'm making an honest attempt to write music and record it in a fashion that has the authenticity of music from the 1980s. A lot of current synthpop and synthwave bands tend to focus on the flash and panache of 80s MTV culture, which is awesome but I've always been naturally drawn to the darker more dramatic side of things and that's where I gather most of my inspiration. The 80s were just as dark as they were flashy and bright.
Glass Apple Bonzai seems to have started back in 2014 with a self-titled release. How did this album shape the rest of your history under the Glass Apple Bonzai name?
Daniel: I have to start this answer with a shout-out to Alex Kennedy of I Die: You Die. Without him nudging me to continue working on the demo tracks I had accumulated and finish the first Bonzai album it probably never would have been completed. He enticed me with giving Bonzai its first ever live show at Aftermath Festival (which formed from the ashes of Kinetik Festival). After that it's all been generally positive. Bonzai's material is the most commercially successful music I've ever made and is also the most fun I've had making music since I was a teenager. If you subscribe to the idea of a “calling” then making synthpop is my true calling and the comfort I feel in this project has helped make it a very productive endeavour. I don't see Glass Apple Bonzai ever ending.
Do you find it important to stick with a similar style each album so fans will know it's your album? Or do you find yourself experimenting and going beyond boundaries that were previously set?
Daniel: Everything I make has my indelible mark on it, even if I tried to avoid it it would still be there. Everyone has their own style and technique, and although that may change and grow over time there's always a signature there. I believe that's a key element to growing and holding a fan base, but it still allows me to change and experiment. I have amazing, loyal fans who seem more interested in seeing what I'm doing next, where I'm going, and how I'm progressing than with me just chunking out the same shit all the time. I couldn't ask for a better audience, to be honest.
Though 2014 marked your start, you've released three albums including your latest In The Dark. How has your sound matured in the past two years? What have you learned about yourself and Glass Apple Bonzai in the process?
Daniel: As I continue to write music as Glass Apple Bonzai I find that I'm maturing in different areas musically than I did in previous projects, mostly because I'm free to do whatever I want without worrying about the approval of others. Because of that I've discovered that I appreciate a wider variety of musical passages and concepts. e.g. multi-part vocal harmonies, more personal lyrical content. That last point is a big one, actually. With each album my lyrical content has become increasingly more personal and more open. That wasn't something I did before. But I do it now.
And what are your own, personal reflections on In The Dark? Do you feel as if the album is your best work to date or do you find you older material more triumphant?
Daniel: Out of the 3 GAB albums I have the strangest, most disconnected relationship with In the Dark because the writing process was stretched out over a longer than normal period of time, and due to some health issues and a variety of other bit of “life” interfering the completion of the album was staggered and weird. But ultimately, it's that awkwardness that's making In the Dark feel so unique. I wouldn't say that the entire album is my best work to date, but there are a few songs on it that I would consider some of the best I've written so far.
Do you have a favorite song on In The Dark? If so, could you explain to us why?
Daniel: 'Modern Light' is actually my favourite song on the album. There's myriad things about it that sit out from the rest of the album, most prominently the bridge dialogue by Alex Reed of Seeming. It's the first time I've added a bit like that to a song, added with some different types of arrangement and editing the song feels like a true progression for me.
You had two guest musicians on the album: Hello Moth and Seeming. How did you contact them to work on the album with you?
Daniel: Hello Moth played right before Bonzai at Terminus Festival in 2015 and I was absolutely blown to fucking smithereens by his set. As soon as his set was done I was thinking of a way to work on something with him, and it hit me sort of like a tonne of frozen fish when I was reviewing the songs that would end up on In the Dark that the missing ingredient for 'What They Say' was his voice. His vocals changed it from a good song to a great song. The same can be said, to a degree about Alex Reed's involvement. Back when Seeming were beginning to make waves with their song 'The Burial' I was working on the first Bonzai album and that song kept me inspired to continue. I met Alex in the flesh at Terminus and saw Seeming perform and, again I knew I had to work on something with him. And holy shit was he quick about it too. I sent him a message asking if he'd like to contribute a monologue during the bridge of the song and his initial reaction was basically "I'll see if I have the time," which was closely followed by, "Actually...Give me 15 minutes”, and like a goddamn magician he sent me his dialogue and it was perfect.
And what are your plans to support In The Dark? Shall you be embarking on a tour in support of the album?
Daniel: Touring is definitely the plan. I've already played a number of shows in the last couple of years. Gone to such amazing places as Iceland (twice, for Iceland Airwaves), and of course Terminus in Calgary, so it's time to take the band further. My primary focus, aside from Canadian shows is Europe. I'd love to plan some US dates but touring there is a bit on the expensive side these days if you want to do it officially. I suppose it all depends on who's willing to fork out the cash! There's nothing set in stone as of right now but things will come to fruition soon, so stay tuned!
Is there anything else in the works at the camp of Glass Apple Bonzai that you could shed light on? Or are you in a resting period for now?
Daniel: The only thing I know for sure is that I still have an EP called The Sounds of Love that I want to release in and around Valentine's Day 2017. It's a lot more upbeat than In the Dark and draws its inspiration more from early Men Without Hats and Rational Youth records. As for another full length album, I'd like to keep up my track record of One Album Per Year so expect another album near the end of 2017. I probably SHOULD take a resting period...but I've never been very good at that.
And now I thank you for your time with us and wish you the best with In The Dark! The space below is yours to say what you wish!
Daniel: It is entirely possible that I am from another planet. Thank you.
Glass Apple Bonzai's In The Dark is now available for purchase HERE. Get yours now!
I would say that the most important thing in life and probably our biggest freedom is for people to be themselves. And if a person has the opportunity to express themselves, they shall not hesitate to do that for one second. And it's not a question of doing that in a creative or artistic form of art. So I think that would be my last words. If you can express yourself, DO IT!
Front 242, Jan 01 2003
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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