My very first interview at Outside Lands Music Festival was with the super cutie Giovanni Giusti, one half of the duo for indie electro-pop dance band The Limousines. Before I get into the questions, please allow me to set up the environment for you. If you read our festival coverage you get an idea of the massive pine tree setting. The press area did not have separate rooms to conduct interviews, so the only choice was to lead your artist into the woods. If you saw us you would think we were about to go smoke a joint or have a brief make-out session as we made our way into the brush, but actually we were scouting interview spots. This made it all the more special. As Gio, our photographer Dominoe and I made our way, we all laughed as we passed Eric Victorino (the other half of the duo) being interviewed in his very own wooded spot. So funny. Settled into our little pocket of woods I had this observation of Gio: hot, super sweet teddy bear, so cool, and down to earth. Here’s the interview.
GG: How do you feel right now in this moment?
Gio: I had coffee on an empty stomach so I feel like I got a fucking rock in there (laughs). But I’m hoping the beer helps.
GG: It’s an anecdote.
Gio: Other than that, the physical way I’m feeling — emotionally I feel wonderful because I’m at a beautiful place with awesome music and I’m gonna play to some fantastic local people.
GG: So you’re from San Francisco?
Gio: No, I’m from the East Bay. East of South Bay, so we just say Bay area. I’m from East of San Francisco which is just right across the Bay Bridge.
GG: Did you ever think you would be playing this festival?
Gio: I’ve known about the festival but never “thought” we’d play. I just don’t go into it thinking like I’m gonna play somewhere like, Yeah we’re gonna fuckin’ play that place. No it’s not like that. It’s just like if we play, we play. It’s awesome to be around, where we’re from and play a festival. Cause we played Treasure Island and that was awesome.
GG: Is it shocking?
Gio: Yeah, it’s shocking but I try to not let it get to me because then you’ll just be a wreck. An emotional wreck … so nervous.
GG: In the band bio it states that the band was courted by the industry, but you guys decided to do the album Get Sharp on your own terms. But after the album was done you signed with Dangerbird Records. Why that label?
Gio: They’re an an independent label, a small group of people — they have a lot of pull, I respect all their artists. They’re really chill cats. Me and Eric took the record as far as we could. We got a lot done on our own, but we wanted to take it further. We had this record, and this music video and Dangerbird hopped on it. There were a lot of other sharks swimming around, other labels, but the deal was good and we selected them.
GG: Your song “Internet Killed the Video Star,” if you were to list the recipe for it, what would it be?
Gio: A turkey baster to suck out all the fluff (laughs). That’s the craziest question.
GG: What about the instruments and feelings that went into it?
Gio: Oh! It’s all electronic. Not real instruments, but what do you want to call real instruments? It’s what it sounds like: not what it is. I could bang on this (pointing to a tree limb) and call it an instrument on stage because it’s what it sounds like. I don’t know, a lot of people feel really strongly about real instruments, and I respect all that. That’s what I was raised on, but I delved into electronic music and I use a bunch of weird shit. I create my own drum sounds out of like Advil bottles and Calistoga bottles and weird shit.
GG: Like a foley artist?
Gio: Yes! Exactly, well I went to engineering school. Ex’pression, it’s across the way, and I learned a lot of production techniques and how to layer sounds and it’ll sound weird. Bjork is one of my biggest influences and she does all that stuff. Like, her live shows a guy will be walking on, say rocks as an instrument.
GG: A person that plays drums is a drummer. What do you call someone that plays a drum machine?
Gio: (laughs) That’s such a good question! Technically, I produce all the music for Limos. Eric has his tips and techniques, but I’ll do it all. I call it producer … I call it, beat master. We can call it beat master … we beat really well. (laughs)
GG: (laughing) So you’re a masterbeater?
Gio: (laughs) Masterbeater! Such a great name! Use that one! (laughs)
GG: (laughing) Sorry I had too. So you guys have been working together since 2006 was there ever a time when you felt discouraged?
Gio: No! When I first started it was all hip-hop stuff. I did a remix cd. So if anything it was encouraging to be like, whoa this fucking singer of this rock group wants to do stuff with me. I wanted to switch my style up to more electronic. I was listening to a lot of Telefon Tel Aviv, Squarepusher, a lot of Warp Records artists. And I thought, dude I want to make this type of music it’s so awesome. So I started to change my style up, and that’s when I met Eric. So it’s almost weird … stars aligned … he wanted to do something different. We just kind of smooshed together and created something new because we both came from two different backgrounds. I never got discouraged at all. I don’t get discouraged cause I don’t keep my hopes up for anything. I just take the blessings as they come. That’s what you gotta do.
GG: Awe, that’s really sweet (we all laugh). What do you tell people when they ask what type of music do you play?
Gio: Oh man, there’s so many weird stuff. I mean you could say electro-pop cause that’s the hot new phrase … um electronic music. We’ve been called gay rock on Youtube (laughs). We shouldn’t listen to those Youtube comments but it’s so funny. We were like, what is gay rock? We just kind of question about it, and we’ll joke and say, well we should just call ourselves gay rock. Why not? So I don’t know—I guess, indie electronic I like to call it ’cause it is indie.
GG: What is this on your necklace?
Gio: Oh yeah, I did my first country tour with Neon Trees (goes through each necklace). This I got in Houston. It’s a Jesus piece. I had a large collection when I was done, because I collected one thing from each city. I got these from New Orleans (points at animal claws) and I think I got this in Cleveland, it’s a switchblade. This, a fan made for me, it’s one of our songs. It’s a triangle circle square. That’s it. But I did have a spoon. I had a Detroit old vintage nail that fell from a skyscraper. It was my first time around the country. I had never been anywhere before in my life, and I wanted to just soak it up. I thought, I’m gonna collect one thing in each city just to remember it by. It was beautiful, and this country is amazing.
GG: Ok, so last question, tell me something about you as far as your family history and the timeline of where you are in it. Short answer version.
Gio: Wow. Well I think I’m repeating ’cause history repeats itself. My great, great, grandfather was an orchestrator for a symphony. I see myself doing the same kind of thing because I do produce, and I orchestrate what sounds go with what. So I see myself as just a repeating blip, in life.
Interview by Roxanne Hilburn
Photography by Dominoe Farris- Gilbert