Q&A: Still Woozy talks new album ‘If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is’
Genre-blending artist Sven Gamsky, known as Still Woozy, dropped his debut album “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is” on Friday. The release marks a mature songwriting evolution with multiple musical influences, he said. (Courtesy of Vince Aung)
"If This Isn't Nice, I Don't Know What Is"
By Vivian Xu
Aug. 13, 2021 4:06 p.m.
This post was updated Aug. 15 at 5:39 p.m.
Still Woozy is wide awake.
The genre-melding artist, known offstage as Sven Gamsky, dropped his debut album, “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is,” on Friday. After several years on the indie scene, Gamsky said the release is an amalgam of his musical influences, ranging from The Beatles to The Weeknd. For Gamsky, his first album is a milestone of his own maturity and a means of processing his emotions.
Gamsky spoke with the Daily Bruin’s Vivian Xu about the catharsis behind his latest record, the freedom that comes with producing his own music and diversifying his discography.
[Related: Q&A: Waterparks’ Awsten Knight talks visual and musical conception behind latest album]
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Daily Bruin: “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is” is your debut album. What type of tone for your career are you hoping to set with this release?
Sven Gamsky: More than anything, (I’m) just trying to let people know that I don’t want to be boxed into any genre. There’s a lot of things that I’m inspired by and a lot of things I want to experiment with. On this album, there’s stuff that feels almost like rock ‘n’ roll, and then there’s some stuff that’s funk, and other stuff feels like indie, and sometimes it feels like acoustic. So I just have too many things that I want to do to be pigeonholed.
DB: On a personal level, what does this album mean to you?
SG: This (album was) super cathartic to make. It’s just how I deal with my own mental health – it helps me (to) just create buffers and just feel. It helps me create feelings that help me process things that happened.
DB: How does the release distinguish itself thematically or sonically from your past work?
SG: It’s a natural development. I understand how to write songs a little better now. It’s kind of corny to say, but it’s a little bit more mature in terms of the writing itself and developed in trying to capture a dynamic movement that still keeps you engaged.
DB: The previous cover art for your singles have featured abstract, colorful artwork while this new album’s cover is a photo of you. Why did you choose to move in this direction?
SG: It’s not as much as moving in a direction as it’s just having a diversity of different things. My fiancee does the art, the drawing. When I thought about putting out an album, I didn’t really want to just have another piece of art – although I love it so much. I just wanted there to be some sort of delineation between the single art and the (album) cover art.
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DB: You have been known to produce your own music. Did you use the same strategy with this release or did you take a different approach?
SG: I’m too picky to have other people (produce) for me. I know what I want, and I worked a long time to get good at playing all the instruments. That’s another reason why I feel like I’ve grown – I just understand much more how to get the sounds I want. When you bring in too many outside people, it dilutes your vision, and I’m not super interested in that. If I could do it, I might as well do it.
Although, I did have help on this album. I worked with a friend of mine, Lars Stalfors, and he basically would come up to Portland, and we would rent an Airbnb and just fill it with instruments. He didn’t play any instruments but he would just be my sounding board. We would talk things through, and it was super helpful to have another head to collaborate with because it can be daunting to try to do everything by yourself.
DB: How do you hope people will respond to the album?
SG: I just hope that people will just take time to listen to it all. That’s it. I put in a lot of energy, and I’m pretty detail-oriented so there’s a lot of little Easter eggs. I just hope that people get the same sort of cathartic (feeling) from it that I got (while) making it.
DB: What do you see in the future of your career following the release of this album?
SG: I don’t really focus too much on the future. I just want to tour, and I want to grow as a person and artist, and I want to focus on making more music.