Ramona Gonzalez is worried about her cat. Speaking from her home in Los Angeles, Gonzalez, who performs as Nite Jewel, is fending off advances from the feline, and she’s worried her pet will get lonely when she heads out on tour in March. “We’re actually in the market for a new one,” she says. “I’m trying to get her a friend.”
It had better be a good friend, considering Gonzalez will be on the road for more than a month, criss-crossing the country promoting her new record, One Second of Love. It’s the prolific songwriter’s latest collection of captivating, electro-tinged tunes that bring to mind something akin to an experimental Goldfrapp, and it’s her third release since 2009.
“It’s just getting really fucked up and playing forever while someone records it. That to me is pretty awesome, staying up all night and working.”
It’s no surprise that Gonzalez ends up with so much material. “A lot of people here in L.A. who are musicians are also artists,” she says. “Everybody here is super multi-talented and paints and takes photos and dances and sings and writes music. People have more time, space and money to invest in their art. You can really be a bum in L.A., you can still have that artist-without-a-job lifestyle here and couch surf around and play with a band. That reality exists here.” After moving from New York to California five years ago to dive into the fertile art and music scene, Gonzalez started working on a synthesizer, mostly to create sound installation pieces better suited for art galleries than rock clubs. The sounds she was making eventually found their way onto her 2009 album Good Evening, a release she never expected to make the splash it did.
“It was a process of getting to know artists and experimenting with recording,” she says. “I didn’t think of it going into the public eye at all when I was recording it. I had no sense that people would hear this, so it was done in a way that was for me alone.” And Gonzalez still approaches making music as if it was an artwork, planting herself in the studio and seeing what comes from it. “When we went in to record this record, we weren’t on a label, we were just musicians working on our art,” she explains.
Understandably, some serious thought went into the album’s production — and she wants it to change others’ album production as well. “I hope it raises the bar a bit for people’s recording processes,” Gonzalez says. “I’m a little bit tired of the lo-fi stuff. Coming from a scene where that was birthed in a popular sense — Ariel Pink had been doing that for 10 years and my friends and compatriots, like John Maus and Gary War, have been doing this — it’s time to move on and to do more with what we have, which is all the technology and options in the world.” There’s one option Gonzalez is particularly fond of when it comes to recording. “I try to get as intoxicated as possible and just go,” she says. “It’s just getting really fucked up and playing forever while someone records it. That to me is pretty awesome, staying up all night and working.”
With all the nocturnal time in the studio, it’s easy to wonder if her felines join in with the recording studio antics. “Do I get fucked up with my cats?” Gonzalez asks with a laugh. “My cats were originally feral strays, they don’t react to catnip because they lived on the streets. I wish that was the same for me; I smoke a joint and you won’t see me for a few days.”
Nite Jewel‘s One Second of Love is out now via Secretly Canadian.