San Minotauro is the psych-pop side project of Spanish-Texan multi instrumentalist J. Bonigno. Born in Madrid, raised in Dallas and currently based out of Echo Park, Bonigno densely layers indie rock with fuzzy synth textures to explore the inner workings of his psyche. Continue reading for a full break down, from the pen of Bonigno himself, of each song from the upcoming San Minotauro 2 EP, out this Friday July 12th.
“Aleja 2”: The first layers of this were tracked on iPhone garageband – very apple-core. My bud Sean Dellorco helped with keys on the track, he grew up with some of the Danger Collective dudes. I love opening the EP with [the line] “choosing to do nothing when you could do anything.” Feels like a fitting line for our time. There are more options for immediate consumption and entertainment now than ever before, so much so that it can be paralyzing. Doing nothing can feel like a waste, but sometimes doing nothing is the most relaxing thing you can do. Thematically, Tyler the Creator’s Flower Boy was a big inspiration for my approach to the entire EP – really admire his techniques in mixing textures and styles so freely. I hear this as having a Mild High Club bass line, their echo park lake vid for “Windowpane” makes me feel like we’re connected and listening to their split with King Gizz walking around Melbourne, Australia. The drums are double tracked, one of them just a raw take recorded on my Macbook mic. Gives it grit.
“Alteryessing”: The intro keys are Melody’s Echo Chamber meets Tennis to me. The guitars that come in with the drums are super Local Natives gorilla manor – I associate their sound with Silver Lake at its most inspiring. Lyrically, I often write about my obsession with music. The beat-driven chorus opens up the song up after a dense verse. I’ve really been inspired by hip-hop since moving to LA and love incorporating synthy beats wherever I can. The EP is filled with reverb-soaked samples from Woodcat in Echo Park where I often listen back to tracks I’m working on. Also, the video was awesome to make in line with the iMovie editing style I’ve done over the years with this project.
“Ecniv”: The main sample throughout the song was recorded on an iPhone from my buddy Vince’s organ’s drum machine. The simple chords over a beat inspo came from Current Joys “Kids” and the floating vibe is super Broken Social Scene Feel Good Lost . Kendrick’s DAMN was a game changer production-wise for me, looking back the song FEEL definitely inspired the vibe of the song. Went for a Julian Casablancas style distortion on the chorus. Worth noting the Spanish lyrics in there, definitely plan on singing in Spanish more often in future SM projects.
“Tenderfeels”: The simplicity on this track is refreshing on a record that is at times too dense. The beauty of DIY recording is that you can spend all the time you need tracking and layering without the pressure of paying for studio time on your mind. But it’s also easy to overcook and over-produce songs that way too, especially when you’re on your own for months with the same songs and you really want them to be good. It’s helpful to have an outside perspective to say ‘hey this sounds great to me, let’s be done and move on,’ but you rarely get that as a solo producer, so some parts can end up feeling cluttered with layers at times when it just needed space to breathe and groove out. The background vocals that match the rolling piano line are a nod to Cuco’s Cuquito EP. Collaborated with my homie Greg Diaz on the intro vocals. The whole song has a Washed Out feel to it. The lyrics were inspired by this feeling like I had no time to myself and so much to do. Can’t underestimate technology’s affect on our generation’s attention, anxiety and hyper-connectivity.
“Sunny Feb 1”: For this I borrowed an 80s Casio synth. I loved the toy-like tones on it. Always been a big fan of instrumental breaks that feel like you finally have some space to breathe. The guitar is double in open, acoustic and electric. The bridge/break reminds me of legend Daniel Rossen, mostly in wishful thinking. This recording is just an excuse to admit that I want to be Frank Ocean.
“Yoee”: Love the rhythm in this song. I started tracking it on my iPad, big fan of using it as a MIDI controller for drums. The bass line is me longing for SZA’s Ctrl. I tried re-tracking everything but ended up keeping a decent amount of the iPad tracks because they sounded more real and emotive. Keys on it are Microkorg that I added later on. I dig the dynamism they add.
“Blue”: I had the looping guitar riff and clap beat you hear in the verses sitting around for over 4 years and always loved it. When I was rehashing layers, I added synths in and start ad-libbing over it, guess my inner Drake came out. “Am I on my way?” felt like a cool mantra. Ratatat style breakdown with the crunchy guitars in there. Chaz B from Toro said it best for me, putting music out with intense auto-tune on it is an exercise in letting go of control and in not getting too caught up in any one detail of a song as long as it feels like it flows.
Bonigno plays every instrument on the project, and partnered with Big Bad Sound for mixing and John Greenham, of Billie Eilish fame, for mastering. The release is a follow up to 2017’s San Minotauro EP. More San Minotauro music is expected in early 2020.
Contribution by J. Bonigno. Edits by Jenny Lee.