J Fernandez, “Close Your Eyes”

Sjimon Gompers

Hanging out around the souvenir stand with the one and only, J Fernandez, photographed by Alexa Viscius.

With the single “Cosmic Was” still reverberating in our consciousnesses, Chicago based artist J Fernandez premieres more cognitive brain candy with the home studio-brewed ode to obfuscated comprehension, “Close Your Eyes”. Following up 2012’s No Luck 7″ from Lake Paradise, the new EP Memorize Now is the latest edition in the extended player series made from Justin’s Humboldt Park abode, scheduled for release on October 14 from Atelier Ciseaux. The following debut of “Close Your Eyes” provides a wondrous audio companion to the designs, colors, and patterns seen in the mind’s eye when the heavy-lidded drapes are squinted shut.

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Rhodes piano progressions ground the recording as it travels through the modes and models of memory, with a collection of chords that steer through a calm, disorderly-yet instinctively arranged chaos. Lyrics ponder the problems and measurements of memory, as Fernandez paints a vague story of Stockholm syndrome spliced with amnesia that fits the song’s eyes wide shut-blinded bewilderment. On “Close Your Eyes”, Justin has carefully selected all bass notes, electric noise emissions, and a key piano rhythm that not only ties all aspects and individual instrumental pieces together, but returns to the awakened (and/or unawakened) reservoir of recollection like the missing puzzle piece or deleted scene that revisits the most fixated focuses of obsessive tendencies. Elaborating on these notions and much more, J Fernandez gave us a rare peak behind this song, and the making of Memorize Now following this premiere:

Can you tell us a bit about the role that memory plays throughout the cycle of, Memorize Now?

A friend was telling me about this disorder called prosopagnosia. It impairs a person’s ability to recognize faces. The track “Memorize Now” is about the kidnapping of someone with this disorder and the struggle to recall their kidnappers face. But the title Memorize Now is also connected to the trouble I have with capturing an initial sketch for a song. It’s always tough for me to remember the details and also the mood. If I wait too long to record, some things just get lost.

And also, what have these past three EPs have shown you through these cosmic sound texture cycles and chapters?

The past three EPs were essentially DIY recording projects. Cause who doesn’t record at home these days? I have a collection of old gear that I call a studio. Most of the equipment is broken. The recording process is pretty simple. I spend enough time in my space. I make something. But everyone else I know is probably way better at recording than I am.

What do you make of the current Chicago scenes, evolutions, and what other local fellow kindred-creative spirits have you discovered that are close to being on your intuitive level?

I moved to Chicago around 2007. It took me a while to figure out what I was doing here. I met most of my close friends through playing music with two groups: Distractions and Thin Hymns. I’ve learned so much from all of those guys. My friend Jake puts out a lot of great stuff through a small Chicago label called Lake Paradise.


You have been taking us through the bright lit blue galaxies of “Cosmic Was”, and we’re wondering how you created the sublime, beautiful, organ touched adventure, “Close Your Eyes”?

Most of the tracks on the record started out as these little exercises I would play on keys. And then I’ve played them so many times I’m not even sure what they sound like anymore. That’s how the beginning electric piano part on “Close Your Eyes” came about. It was just this meandering little keyboard melody I would play over and over.


In the age of all digital everything; why is the notion and scope of memory, and the skill of memorizing so important?

I’m fine with relying on digital technology for storing certain things. But we have the brain capacity. We might as well absorb as much of the present as possible.

J Fernandez’s upcoming Memorize Now EP will be available October 14 from Atelier Ciseaux.

J Fernandez tour dates:

October
14 Chicago, IL – Township
16 Indianapolis, IN – Joyful Noise
17 Atlanta, GA – Mammal Gallery
18 Durham, NC – Duke Coffeehouse
20 Baltimore, MD – The Crown
21-25 New York, NY – CMJ
27 Pittsburg, PA – Gooski’s

November
07 Grand Rapids, MI – Lamplight Fest
15 Chicago, IL – Saki Records(instore)

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