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Wesley Gonzalez (Bandcamp): https://wesleygonzalez.bandcamp.com/
Every 5 years or so I go back to the two Julian Cope biographies Head-On and Repossessed which, for me, form the best music biographies published about any musician. My obsession with Julian as an artist started in 1984 with the release of the debut single Sunshine Playroom (the World Shut Your Mouth album was released soon after). It also coincided with me going to see him live at Guildford Civic Hall on 27th March 1984 to support the album release that year. Although it was sparsely attended I was completely hooked on him and the subsequent release of Fried only 6 months later just confirmed my love of his music.
As part of my obsessive behaviour, I would read all the album sleeve notes to find out about every person involved with the album recording process. On these sleeve notes, there was the name Steve Lovell aka Lovell The Dog – the producer for both albums. By the release of Fried, I was working at Virgin Records (see previous blogs) and it transpired that the sister of one of our Saturday staff, Kate, was dating Steve and they were coming down to Portsmouth soon for a night out. I played it cool at first but once I had been introduced to Steve (and Pam), I went through my 50 pages of prepared notes and delivered an array of questions over the next 4-5 hours. This was my introduction to Steve Lovell and his to me!
Following on from this initial meeting, we kept in touch (at my insistence!) and met up a number of times. He was always thoughtful and helpful when we met up despite him realising I was a bit of an obsessive fan. By this point, Steve was working with Steve Power as an in-house producer at Battery Studios in London producing the likes of Holly Johnson, Blur, James, A House, The Brilliant Corners and Samantha Fox. The last meeting we had was around 10 years ago when we went to see a band play at Water Rats in Kings Cross.
As I was re-reading the Cope biography I decided to try and reach out to Steve to check-in on how he was. This was carried out through texts and emails but no response was received. I dug a little deeper and was met with the unfortunate shock of discovering that Steve had unfortunately passed away a few weeks before (24th March 2021). There was little information to explain how he had died. When I last saw Steve, he had recently moved to Brighton with his future wife Rachel and they had a child together. He seemed very happy with how his life was going.
For me, Steve was an amazing record producer and a wonderful human being who influenced and inspired a lot of people in his career, myself included. He always gave me time and was happy to tell me stories about the recording process for both the albums he worked on with Julian. He also gave me some outtakes from the sessions which I treasure. I haven’t seen many tributes to Steve over these past few weeks so I wanted to write this to highlight the legacy that he created and have it documented.
Through his acclaimed 2020 album Appalling Human – mixed by James Greenwood (Ghost Culture, Daniel Avery, Kelly Lee Owens) and released via Moshi Moshi Records – Wesley Gonzalez cast his songwriting net over issues of the self, social anxiety, and psychotherapy. With Change Your Circumstance, Gonzalez again looks inwards, to question how he sees his role in the world. He explains: “The track was originally recorded during the last session for my 2020 album Appalling Human. As there was also a song called Change on the album, and it was initially much longer and seemed a tad unfinished, I let it remain in my iTunes to gather digital dust. Over the pandemic, I rediscovered the track and found a fondness for it that I previously didn’t have. The song was written about my friend expecting a baby. It freaked me out, to be honest. He’d asked me to be godfather and I found it scarily grown-up. The verses are more directed at myself and questioning whether I even want any traditional grown-up role in life, or asking how someone could feel mentally stable enough to ever bring a child into a world I felt such resentment for. The line Hell is the heaven that we all deserve comes from a live performance I did at Green Man festival, absolutely off my nut. I curled into a ball and shouted it for a few minutes, it came seemingly from nowhere and stuck in my guts for months. The video was made by London artist Josie Rae Turnbull, and takes inspiration from the ‘direct animation’ of artists such as Len Lye, and the chaotic chroma key of films such as DAISIES and HAUSU. Built from her personal video footage, early public information films, and assorted 1980s VHS transfers, Josie wanted to emulate the unofficial, homemade music videos you often find in karaoke bars.”