Words and Images by Marcelo Quiñones
George West is the moniker of Vik Montemayor, a seasoned drummer turned producer who explores an eclectic mix of sounds, interspersing chilled melodies with hints of abstract yet solid drum patterns. Largely inspired by road trips and beach getaways, the project is named after a small town in South Texas, which West passed during 8 hour road trips between Houston and Dr. Gonzalez, Mexico as a child. We got to ask him a few questions about his childhood, his inspiration and about the differences between the music scenes he has played a part of. Read below.
Marcelo Quiñones: What is art to you?
George West: Art is such a broad thought. Art can be anything you want it to, but most all it is something that is done with passion, love and
lots of sleepness nights thinking about how to do something better, how to perfect your craft. Its a job that never stops.
Each person has there own view on the world and what surrounds it, and how things work. As a musician I am constantly listening to sounds all around, making a beat in my head from a clicking of a construction site that to me is a sound that probably cant be duplicated, that is magic.
MQ: Where does the name George West come about?
GW: I have played drums for bands around Houston since I was 15 years old. As I was getting more into the music, I was noticing that famous artists like Thom Yorke, had there own solo projects that were leaning more towards the electronic feel. Spending my childhood split between Dr. Gonzalez Mexico (small town 30 minutes from Monterrey Mexico) and Houston along the 8 hour roadtrip, we would pass a small town called ‘George West’ and I starting thinking.. If I ever do a solo project it will be called George West.. lot of memories, lots of open spaces, so now George West is my project.
MQ: How can you define your music?
GW: I might have some dope drum kit that I download and throw in a mix of field samples that I record with my iphone. I try to capture samples where ever I am at, so that when I hear that track itll remind me of that certain time and place where I got that sound from. I have a track that I sampled chamanes playing drums in downtown Mexico City and now everytime I play that song.. It transports me to that exact moment.
MQ: The single ‘Topics’ was recorded in California. How did that opportunity arise?
I have a really good friend in Ventura California which runs a music studio in this rad spot in the mountains.. So dope. The vibe is just right. He has always invited to go work with him out there and for some reason or another things never worked out. So this time things fell into place and the road trip was dope. I shared the trip with my dad which is the best man ever.. And the raddest photographer/videographer Marcelo from Mexico City which took all the photos, and has done my past 2 videos.
MQ: Where do you find inspiration while composing your music?
GW: My influence has been those memories that are locked in my mind of the road trips we would take to Mexico as a family every holiday we had. I picture open landscapes, small chill towns when I create music. As I grew older on the Northside of Houston (Greenspoint) I grew up with my mom playing traditional Mexican music in the house, to my homies playing Swisha House in the street make the trunks rattle (haha) its true. So I think all that mix of music, mental pictures, and memories has all crashed into what George West is now. I never tried to be a certain genre, its just what comes out.
MQ: Why you think your music is so visual?
GW: My music has alot of sounds behind it that can bring a visual projection, or film to life beautifully. Its a thing of creating this type of music that when
I create it I have a visual concept in mind of where I come from, where I have been, heartbreaks, and general experiences in life.
When you play live set and have a visual performer with me as well, I feel it brings my music to life and the audience connects with
my sounds as the set progresses, so by the end of the set its almost like they just watched a movie, of themselves.
MQ: Tell me about your visual aesthetic and the importance of it?
GW: I really think that visuals will add a certain feel/emotion to the music, especially when your music is mainly instrumental.
The visuals with the music in the background its almost like you are watching a movie of someones life.
I have a few good homies in Houston that will help me create the visual aesthetic to my live sets, rad dudes. (shout to Rob, Taylo, and Ryan) not to mention the man behind the total visual concept of George West, Marcelo Quinones, super broder.
MQ: Why do you think some people might not completely understand your music?
GW: Not sure it is that they don’t understand I just think that since my music might not have the movement that all the other
music out there has, or if it just dosen’t have that “trap” feel that is banging really hard right now. I respect all music and really dive in to all sorts of sounds, beats, samples, right now I am fresh in the game, but soaking it all in and taking it as it comes. So many blogs out there don’t accept what I send as my new release, and thats cool with me not everyone will dig my sound, but all my tracks have that slice of me in them so..no worries. I will just keep creating and perfecting my style.
MQ: Is that why you think that the people who understand your music really get to connect with it?
GW: I feel and see that people connect with my music because it really has no vocals (some tracks) so its almost like a blank book, people can make of it as they please. Some people travel and tell me “man its like I smoked a fat joint, but I didn’t” and some people say “your set took me for a journey” I try to groove with the set and let the audience travel with the sounds and movements the beats take them.
MQ: Tell me what’s going on with Houston’s music movement?
GW: Houston’s music scene is def better than it was years back, seems like we are getting more recognition for the city and we have some great national touring bands coming through. There are some great homies that write for local music sections in local press that are super into what is going on and what the Houston beat scene has going, and that is always a huge help when you are trying to make a name for yourself in your local city. There are lots of DIY venues popping up throwing some rad parties, after parties, open mic nights shout out to the homies at Wonky Power Records, mad love for putting it on for the city.
MQ: Are you happy in Houston, or do you feel your music is not for that town?
GW: I will always have Houston deep in my heart as I have many rad memories here, but I feel like there is so much to see, do, experience out there. I really love the vibe Los Angeles puts out for the beat scene vibes, but then I got to Mexico City and the culture is so in your face, sounds everywhere, history all around you and its like I think… I could live here and create so much dope tracks. *Ultimate plan, live in a city for 1 year at a time and create as much as I can, then move*
MQ: Tell me about your international and local collaborations with your music?
I have collaborated with James Blake..I am kidding haha.. one day in the near future. I have done a remix for Jesse Baez, super dope latin artist with Finesse Records out of Monterrey Mexico, where I spent half of life (at least) that is my parents home town. I sent a few beats out to a label in Argentina, and one track is in the works to be released with them. I am steady on the hustle and all this started as a personal project, so to be getting this sort of recognition is super humbling for me. Much love to everyone supporting my project.
MQ: What advice they have for young artists trying to make it?
GW: You are really going to have to love what you do, what you create, if not you can give up very easy. It’s not an easy art to get into, well, in reality, no art form is easy. Lots of artists are broke touring the country, but the love it and can’t see themselves doing anything else so they are there roughing it out and putting all their heart and soul into their craft.
MQ: Thank you. Good luck with everything.
And check out more from Nakid’s Contributor Marcelo Quiñones’ Photography.