Pin It

Home studio inspection with Dominique Leone 

Wednesday, Aug 6 2008
Comments

Dominique Leone is a recovering music critic. His writing has appeared everywhere from Pitchfork to Paste. It's easy to take this fact and run with it, as his piecemeal grabs from rock history could easily come from academically ingesting truckloads of releases and then spitting out a schizophrenic stew of hyperactive outsider pop.

Thing is, Leone has always been a musician. He was a performance major at Texas Tech, gave trumpet lessons afterward, and honed his oddball compositional sense all along. His music and his writing are both products of finding hidden connections and ignoring boundaries to deliver something deeply personal.

Take his recent disc, Dominique Leone, for example. The effortlessly weird "Nous Tombons Dans Elle" offers a spastic videogame shuffle, Beach Boy falsetto harmonies, and noise breakdowns. Elsewhere, "The Return" is a 13-minute trip through swampy ambience, Todd Rundgren mindfuck, psych organ freakout, and proggy chord progressions. Leone ends the record with "Conversational," a simple, Beatles-esque ballad with string accompaniment, and a perfect Band-Aid for the opaque oddities that precede it.

When SF Weekly sought physical evidence of what makes Leone tick, we nearly found our plans thwarted. Leone recently moved from San Francisco to Berkeley, placing many of his material possessions in storage. His house, shared with a few roommates, was the very opposite of his recordings — a neat and uncluttered enclave where he worked on new songs. But his spartan environs couldn't keep us from rifling through what was there, and below he gives us explanations for some of his possessions.

Works of Igor Stravinsky box set
"That was like twenty bucks at Amoeba, for the whole thing — there's twentysomething CDs in there. It's from when he moved to America in the '50s or '60s and recorded all of his stuff with the CBS Orchestra. Classical CDs are supercheap now."

"Dünder" drawing
"That's my friend MaryClare. She drew that for me. MaryClare's actually one of my bandmates sometimes. ... She's a flute player, and we have another band called Paul and Diane. She's in Switzerland right now, and she sent me all these drawings."

Digidesign Digi 001 system
"I have a friend who worked at Digidesign. He hooked me up with this admittedly way-out-of-date system. But for my purposes, it's fine. ... The next record will be better recorded. [Leone recorded his eponymous LP on a digital 4-track recorder.] I have better everything — better mikes, better performances, better instruments, better ProTools."

Upright piano
"I bought this at a flea market here, and I love working on piano. Most of the time I do my writing here before I start recording."

The Rest Is Noise hardback by Alex Ross
"This is a good book. It's about 20th-century classical music and about the various movements, strands, and composers. It's good at putting things into context."

Score for Drumming by Steve Reich
"Willie Winant is a percussion instructor at Mills and other places, and he's played with everybody — John Zorn, Sonic Youth, everybody. ... He played a couple shows with me. Then he said, 'Well, why don't you play marimba in this [Reich] piece?' We played at [Piedmont's] Chapel of the Chimes. On the summer solstice, [New Music Bay Area has] this event where they get musicians to play in this crematorium in Piedmont. It's great, it's really cool. So we played Drumming there, and I think we're gonna play it in the [San Francisco] airport next month. In the international terminal, I think. I'd love to come into the airport to that."

About The Author

J. Pace

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed