By Thomas Dunlap
Hector Gachan, currently based out of Sydney, Australia, is an upcoming bilingual musician who skillfully blends the genres of psychedelic pop and alternative rock to create a unique brand of DIY indie music. Having spent many years in both Sydney and Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gachan’s multicultural influences have permeated throughout his music. The style of Gachan’s music is difficult to specify, often bouncing around in genres and musical tones, echoing the drastic differences in culture and lifestyle prevalent in each of the countries he called home. His lyrics comment on the sometimes rough, yet occasionally beautiful, experiences in life that are shared by many. Although Gachan draws inspiration from his personal experiences, the emotions present have been felt by all. After releasing his promising first project, Untitled ‘91, in December 2017, Gachan continues to work on new music, often previewing new tunes on his Instagram (@hectorgachan).
Untitled ‘91 is an eclectic and entertaining exhibition of ebullient indie rock. The thirteen tracks that comprise Hector Gachan’s debut album are a collection of upbeat and unique installments, each separate in their own style and sound. Tracks such as the titular “Untitled ‘91” and “Really Something” are energetic songs, with guitar-heavy instrumentals and groovy melodies. The latter of the previously mentioned songs is undoubtedly the album’s standout track, featuring jovial instrumentation, addictive melodies, and even lyrics in Bosnian. Gachan takes things a little slower with tracks like “Nice Guy” and “D**k Daisey,” where the moody guitar and synthesizer notes are emotional and the lyrics are empathetic. In “Balkan Boy,” the most starkly contrasted song on the album, Gachan departs entirely from the easy-listening indie-rock that encompasses the majority of the Untitled ‘91. This somewhat aggressive track supports a mild junkyard or garage-rock sound. The musical diversity of Gachan’s freshman release provides for a well-rounded and enjoyable listening experience, leaving no hint as to where Gachan might go with his next project.
The following is the result of a brief conversation Gachan and I conducted over email. We discussed regional influences, bilingual lyrics, and the creation of Untitled ‘91.
Thomas Dunlap: What would you call your specific brand of alternative indie-rock? What artists were you keeping in mind while creating this niche sound?
Hector Gachan: I don’t think I can really put my finger on it to be honest. Hypnagogic Pop is what writers consider Ariel Pink and John Maus to be making so I’d gladly fall under that category as I consider those guys to be a huge influence. Ultimately though I guess it’s just unhinged psychedelic pop music that I’m trying to make. Around the time of the making of the album I was heavily listening to Ex-Yugoslav music, so anything from soul to electronic music. I also reverted back to my main heroes like Nirvana, J Dilla, Curtis Mayfield, The La’s, EKV and Dino Merlin. The list goes on really.
How do you get yourself in the creative mindset to work on music?
It’s usually a creative feeling that will pop up. As soon as I feel I got something I hold onto that feeling for dear life until I can muster something worthwhile out of it. Sometimes a walk can do wonders, sitting outside watching the sunset. However, I get most creative between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., which is a bit of a bummer but it is what it is. I often dream about music, so if I can remember what melodies I dreamt about that for me is like striking gold, for I know it’s coming from a less biased place. Or at least that’s how I’d like to imagine it.
TD: When finalizing the tracklist for Untitled ‘91, how did you decide what tracks to keep and what tracks to leave on the cutting room floor?
HG: Well I didn’t really have the luxury to decide what to keep and what to kick to curb. I literally lost my whole album a month before its due release, my laptop crashed and I didn’t back up the tunes like a dummy. Many songs that were supposed to be on that record never showed up. In about a month though I managed to write and record the album. I wrote Nice Guy about two days before I released the album, this was in late ‘16. My label discovered it and they dug it enough as it was, so we decided to release it like that. However I added ‘D**k Daisey’ and ‘East-West’ later on to strengthen the album a bit.
TD: Do you think that incorporating bilingual lyrics into your music attracts listeners, or turns them away? How did you come to the decision of including another language in your music?
HG: I think it can be a real hit or miss kinda thing ya know. ‘Really Something’ seemed kind of bland before I put the bosnian lyrics in at the end. I actually sampled the lyrics at the end of the song from a Bosnian musician named Fuad Buzadzic, who wrote the song ‘Vrijeme Ljubavi’//“Season Of Love” in 1993 during the siege in Sarajevo. The song really touched me it was just pure love and wanting for peace in such a chaotic time for Bosnia and Herzegovina. I tried looking for him everywhere online to let him know that I featured his lyrics but I couldn’t find him. If he’s ever around I’d love for him to hit me up.
TD: What is the story behind the album artwork for Untitled ‘91?
HG: Well it’s a picture of me at six, I was born and raised in Sydney up until around 13 then I moved to Sarajevo and stayed until I was 19. The city behind me is Sarajevo, specifically the neighborhood I grew up in which is Hrasno. I felt it was a cool way to vaguely tell the story of my upbringing. I’m absolutely grateful to have lived in both countries despite the contrast between the two. It kind of taught me that I really am a weirdo no matter where I am at, but also a man of the world to some degree. I only realized that on my shirt on the album cover it says “Future.” The city behind me was what was waiting for me as a young boy.
TD: Is there anything you can tell me concerning a new project?
HG: I will be releasing my sophomore album hopefully nearing the fall of this year. It will be a full length album, and it will focus more so on where I’m at today as opposed to my first album which for the most part dealt with my past.
TD: You have lived in both Bosnia and Australia, how does the music scene compare in these two places?
HG: Both have great scenes. I have learnt that there are incredibly talented people all over the world irrespective of their nations of origin. Bands like Tame Impala allowed me to at least toy around with the idea that people would like my version of guitar based music as well way back in 2010. Currently in Australia there is an ample amount of talent within basically every genre. There really is a bevy of creatives in the psyche rock genre. What the guys at Flightless Records (King Giz, Murlocs etc.) are doing is pretty spectacular, Along with Spinning Top Music (Gum, Peter Bibby, Pond etc.) out way out west. Stella Donelly is incredible, who is also from Western Australia.
The music scene in Bosnia is relatively small compared to Australia so I’m including all the Ex-Yugoslav countries in this as well. Hip-hop has become a strong voice for the youth over there. A youth that is basically sick and tired of being screwed over by the powers that be. Hip-hop has been going strong since the end of the war in the ’90s. Bosnian hip-hop literally was my introduction to the current real issues that people, particularly young people face over there. Corruption, discrimination, politics, nationalism, poverty, Etc. Hip Hop can literally bring together every ethnicity within Bosnia and the Balkans under one roof, all bopping their heads to a beat with lyrics that represent nothing but the truth. Edo Maajka was a massive influence for me as a lyricist. He’s basically the kind of hip-hop over there. I really dig Smoke Mardeljano from Belgrade as well. There are also a lot of bands that are just as good and just as driven to speak the truth. Dubioza Kolektiv, Letu Stuke, Let 3, Rambo Amadeus, Darkwood Dub etc.
TD: At what age did you decide to pursue a career in music?
HG: Music has been my passion ever since my father got me my first right handed SX fender Strat rip off which I flipped over to play left handed. That was in 2007 for my 16th birthday. I’m just happy people dig the tracks now. It’s an honor, if I can make more of a career out of it then it will be a bigger part of my life. I always liked creating whether it’d be drawing, acting, doing impressions, telling jokes, writing stories. Music just so happens to be the thing strangers know me for the most part I guess.
TD: How did you come to be affiliated with Delicieuse Musique?
HG: They discovered my tracks after I originally posted my album in late 2016. They shared my music, I noticed a massive increase listeners and we began our relationship from there. It was an amazing feeling to finally have someone notice me and give me a chance like that. I’m currently signed to ‘Nice Guys Records’ which is their sub label which primarily focuses on anything of the alternative/psychedelic/bedroom pop persuasion. I actually met them in Bordeaux, France where they’re partly based along with Paris. They were extremely welcoming and It really a wonderful experience. They got the name of sub label from my song ‘Nice Guy’ which is pretty cool. There is some great music on the label including my lovely label mates from Brighton, UK Ralph TV.
TD: You’ve been teasing new tracks on Instagram quite a lot. Can we expect a new release soon?
HG: Very soon. But that’s all I can say. Blessings and Eternal empathy to all.
Gachan’s music is available on all streaming platforms, and with a second album on the way he is undoubtedly an artist to keep an eye out for.
Featured image courtesy of Hector Gachan with calligraphy by Thomas Dunlap.