Name: Snax aka Paul Bonomo
Occupation: Musician, singer, songwriter, performer, DJ
Current release: Snax has a new duo with nd_baumecker called Snecker. Their Mandemic EP, featuring Khan of Captain Comatose and including remixes by Pete Ellison and Romain FX, is out October 15th 2021 via Freeride Millenium.
Recommendations: Movie: ‘Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark’; Music: ‘Loose Beginnings’ by Unconscious Honey
If you enjoyed this interview with Snax and would like to know more about his work, visit his official homepage. He is also on Instagram, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I’ve been making music since I was a tiny tot. My brother and I had an imaginary group, which to me was very real. We recorded full albums on toy instruments, mapped out a whole career, even broke up and reunited.
I grew up around music. Record players were spinning a lot, with all different types of music from my parents and sibs collection. My mother insisted that all of us take piano lessons. As a kid, I was obsessed with The Beatles and Kiss. And look at me now.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I found my own voice when I stopped caring if I sound like anyone else. I know when something comes from a sincere place and take it from there. And shout out to Mr. And Mrs. Pollack, my piano teachers.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I’m a Planet.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
It’s a continuing quandary as to which is more challenging; working with machines, or working with other people. I still haven’t decided.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
Honestly, I don’t like to get into too much about the process. That’s like asking a magician how he does his trick. I’d rather not know. Just take me away. Dazzle me! I don’t care how you do it. I am so NOT a gear slut.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Pick up a bass and pluck around. You’ll get 10 new songs in a minute. The Fender Rhodes is like that, too. They’re both songwriting machines.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
It’s the person I have to click with first. I’d rather work with someone who’s not a ‘real musician’ but who I get along with, rather than someone who can kick ass on several instruments but whose personality is dry as a bone.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Actually I’m not really the night owl I used to be. I could blame that on lockdown, but I was heading in that direction anyway.
I go to my studio during the day, at least a few times a week, like a job. But a job I love going to, so long as the coffee machine works and there’s an endless supply of nibblys.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I sat in bed with my Roland 303 Groovebox and wrote ‘No Dancing.’ That’s my favourite way to work. Songs like that just write themselves.
When I was in the throes of making my Shady Lights album, I was dreaming songs. That’s when you know you’re on to something.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I meditate and do yoga, yet I still have this temper that can flare up at a moment’s notice. Having a calm mind definitely aids in the creative process.
On the other hand, my short fuse and impatience pushes me to reach goals. Like if my computer or synth doesn’t do exactly what I want, I won’t rest until I figure it out. We made the machines, not the other way around.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
As for healing, the song ‘I Wish’ by Stevie Wonder would make anyone realize that life is worth living.
As for hurt, once I saw the band Sunn O))) play in a theatre where they gave out ear plugs because of the deafening noise. I tried at times to hear it without the plugs. That hurt, and it was glorious.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
Like Keith Richards said, ’It’s only Rock N Roll, sweetheart. ‘
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I listen to funk music. The word ‘funk’ can be used to describe a smell. ‘Funk’ is one letter away from the word ‘fuck.’ Feel it.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Art is like grieving. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue. ‘Nuff said.