Telekom Electronic Beats

Interview: Groundislava

Jasper Patterson produces sounds in the vein of video games and ’80s chiptune nostalgia. That description sound a bit boring? No worries, there’s more to his sound—a general melancholic vibe that doesn’t seem to go along with his home of Venice, CA and all the beach vibes you would usually link to that. But even before Bret Easton Ellis we’ve know that there is a bit of a dark side to all these endless Xanax Summers and generic surf romance. In aptly named songs like ‘Suicide Mission’ or ‘Living Under A Rock‘, Groundislava builds beats around emotional states of detachment and confusion that turn the narrative sounds of video game soundtracks into tales of despair and longing. In our conversation we discover his roots in said video games and talk a bit about his collaborators, illustrious names like Clive Tanaka, Shlohmo or Baths.


I was listening to your album, and the first thing I noticed was a collaboration with Baths’ Will Wiesenfeld.
We both went to the same high school for a few years, and we were actually in the same music courses and have a lot of mutual friends, and were hanging out all the time.

I can hear a lot of similarities in your music; not in a bad way though, it sounds like some sort of scene is developing where you guys are from. Do you think that’s because you went to the same music course?
We had this class together and had all this time to do our thing. For me that time was when I taught myself using Reason and Ableton. I also learned how to use the keyboard properly for making music. All the basics.

When did you start to make your own music?
I started when I was about fifteen. I never really knew what I was doing and didn’t really finish stuff, there were just all this random ideas. But nothing that was really representative of what I wanted to do. Then I’d say around the time I turned seventeen, eighteen, I started to be able to express what I wanted to say.

How old are you now?
I just turned twenty-two a month ago.

Where does the name of your project come from?
I think a lot of people had a similar game when they where kids, we jumped from chairs and tables trying to get around the house without touching the floor – ‘the ground is lava’. And a while ago, when I was trying to come up with something I got really nostalgic and thought it sounded like a good name.

Nostalgic, that’s a good lead. Does childhood play a big role in your music? 
My music is influenced by video games a lot, and I think I’m going for a general nostalgic feeling. With my music I just try to create stuff that I would like to hear. I like that amateur approach to it.

What’s your favorite video game soundtrack? 
I think one of my favorite soundtracks is from Bomberman 64. But then it’s not really a particular game, it’s a lot of different soundtracks – I guess I’m just really inspired by music that is connected to a narrative, like in movies.

Your tracks are titled bleak, like ‘Suicide Mission’ – that sounds a bit rough…. 
Sometimes I make song titles that dictate where the song goes, but in that case I had the song and didn’t really know what to call it. So I based the song title on the emotion it had, it had this really intense emotional feeling to it. Before we had lyrics to the song it was called ‘Rescue Mission’.

What is the song about?
I’m not a hundred percent sure what it’s about, but Will sings ‘I’m heading out now, I want to do some bullshit and get myself hurt’ but it’s not specifically about one sort of scenario or one kind of direct meaning, it’s just about this general emotions.

On your EP ‘TV Dream’ there is another suicide song. Is that a theme that runs through your music?
I wouldn’t say it’s a theme—that title is just kind of a weird catchy phrase, so I built the song around it.

How was it working together with Clive Tanaka on the Song ‘TV Dreams’?
He’s kind of a mysterious guy, I just sent him the track and probably a week later he sent me some chopped up vocals back and I basically just put together the song. It wasn’t a very personal exchange, but I think that song is one of the strongest songs i ever made. It represents, not stylistically, but structurally the sound I like.

And your collab with Shlohmo?
I went to middle school with Shlohmo and we were always hanging out. I was out in New York for a couple shows and staying at his house, so we just did some tracks.

Groundislava’s EP ‘TV Dreams’ and his LP Feel Me are out now via Friends of Friends.

Published September 04, 2012.