From Freud to Zombie Sharks, Geneva Jacuzzi Discusses “Lamaze” for Its Reissue
The avant-garde pop polymath looks back on her 2010 album.
In her exercises in Italo disco or takes on traditional Greek myths, Geneva Jacuzzi is far from understated. However, the polymath is vastly underrated—not only is the underground LA musician an eclectic synth-pop connoisseur, she’s also a performance artist, music video director, producer, and makeup artist. And those are still only a few of the many hats she wears. Her 2010 album Lamaze, which is nearing its ten year anniversary, was long out-of-print. But now, thanks to a reissue by Mexican Summer, the surreal album is getting revived.
Lamaze is a collection of analog 4-track and 8-track recordings that span the latter half of the 2000s. These fifteen songs are enchanting and strange. Ranging from lo-fi bedroom pop to funky new wave takes, Lamaze is a prismatic collection of pop by an artist unafraid of standing at a fantastical edge. Sometimes it feels like Jacuzzi is soundtracking a melancholic jazzercise video (“Do I Sad?”) or captures the vibe of a run down a hall of mirrors (“Love Caboose”).
With the reissue out today, Jacuzzi walks us through the tracks and her wide range of inspirations—from Freud to zombie sharks. Buckle up and enter Jacuzzi’s mind below.
1. “Clothes on the Bed”
This is a perfect example of a total lyrical surrender on my part. I’m pretty sure I wrote pages upon pages of dreamscape poetry trying to capture some abstract idea or fantasy but wound up overthinking myself into a mindless ape state of intellectual exhaustion…and poof…blah…clothes…bed. Mundane object doing mundane thing. Accidental twilight dada moment but it worked out perfectly.
2. “Nonsense Nonsense”
I remember recording this entire song in my friend’s bedroom over the course of a few hours. She had this cool little Casio keyboard with the best sounds on it. Sometimes the sounds just write themselves into songs.
I distinctly remember that there were people talking in the other room the whole time and I could just hear them blah-biddy-blah-blah-ing the night away. Yada Yada, talk talk, this and that… That’s what it sounded like to me. They were just talking and talking and talking about everything and nothing. For hours and hours. It’s insane how people just go on and on like that.
3. “Love Caboose”
“I was lost in the land of the dead. They say love had played no part.”
“Love Caboose” is about a Medusa… I think I was fixated on the idea of a death gaze. Pointed both outward and inward. It’s what happens when you look at yourself through an external device like tech, or a mirror even. There’s a spooky feedback loop that starts to happen, and that’s why we separate. Or harden. “Tie the noose around the love caboose,” protection from love. Or from death… Like narcissus in reverse. Don’t point that love gun at me… Total emotional paralysis. Q: “Would you die for me?” A: “I do”
I’m rambling, but pretty sure I was reading lots of Jung and Freud and Lacan and my head was spinning with all of the neat ways I could turn this into music. You know Freud thinks Medusa is some sort of reptilian castration fantasy. But not a sexy one. Something to do with pubic hair and snakes and your mom.
4. “Future Past”
I always fantasized about a place called the “non-dimension.” It’s sort of a time-stop future past bizarro world where a bunch of characters run around having adventures, staging art plays, and making a special kind of music that allows them to travel between worlds. The video for this song (part of the Dark Ages odyssey) shows a zygote character who enters our world through time, but unfortunately passes through a faulty creation myth that later needs repairing. It’s a long story, obviously, but the only kind of music that is capable of fixing anything non-dimensionally is really cool dance-y music that sounds retro and futuristic at the same time, which is why my music sounds kind of ’80s but not really, you dig?
5. “Runaway DNA”
“I’ve lost my DNA.” Pretty sure it’s about codes…or what makes us human. Transcendental shock? Or maybe a blood sacrifice. To be honest, I don’t even know what that song is about, but it seemed to make sense at the time. I love it because it feels like something not human mocking a human.
6. “Greek Ambassador”
This song is great because it sounds like I’m good at playing piano, but I’m really not. I think I got good enough just to play that riff, then I got bad again. I’m the laziest musician on the planet. I only play when I want to record, and it’s quite pathetic watching me struggle to do very simple, easy stuff, but whatever, I’m good enough to play all the parts on the songs, and nobody’s complaining. The lyrics on this song are really funny and it’s me making fun of a certain person I know who was really asking for it.
7. “Relay Racer, Love Stories, Holograph”
I have hundreds of these little instrumental songs I record that are like little islands unto themselves. Some are failed attempts at writing complete songs. Some are short and sweet and perfect the way they are. I made a compilation of them on an unofficial demo album called Zombie Sharkives Vol 1. “Holograph,” “Relay Racer,” and “Love Stories” are all Zombie Sharkives that made their way onto Lamaze. I think it’s fun to have little musical interludes between the songs. Kind of like hors d’oeuvres.
8. “Do I Sad?”
This is a very special song to me. One of my favorites. I recorded it on the carpets of two different houses. The second house had a giant spider that tortured me throughout the whole experience. It was big and it jumped. Sadly I lost the tape that I recorded the song onto. So in a way, it’s gone. The only version is the version on the record, which is cool because it means it’s unchangeable. I remember tearing the house apart looking for the tape and crying. Deep down it made sense to me because the song has this sweet sadness that almost feels like something you love that you know will be gone forever.
9. “Group Dynamic”
This has sort of an AI-meets-armageddon vibe to it. Sometimes my brain trails into dark places where I am convinced that artificial intelligence is really a parasite feeding off of our attention. But whatever, I have an active imagination…
“This is no love boat, It’s a cannibal cruise. Journey through the past exotic guilt trip for two.” I had a very strange childhood. Not going to get into it, but I witnessed a bunch of people doing very strange things and thinking that it was all a good idea. Anyhow…after that was over I became rather fascinated with collective insanity, and what better way to process all of that than throwing it down over a funky bassline with spooky synths?
10. “Bad Moods”
This song is mostly silly stuff. I was really into the band Lifetones around the time I made this, so I was messing around with a sort of dub/reggae thing. I don’t think the song is very reggae, but that’s what I started with at least. That’s how most of my music writing goes. It starts with me trying to mimic something really good, failing, and then turning it into something totally different but kind of cool in its own way.
I had this fascination with quicksand. Maybe it’s from that scene in The NeverEnding Story where Atreyu loses his best friend to sadness. I saw that movie when I was a kid and that image left an impression on me. When I wrote this song, I envisioned the pyramids sinking into a sandy sadness along with a forgotten humanity. The sun turns black. Weeping eyes of the pyramids gushing out onto wet sand and then swallowed by the earth. That was the vision. The music sounds a lot like Kraftwerk.
12. “Gray Wave City”
The music for this song was 100 percent inspired by OMD’s 1980 album. I recorded it in a tiny RV that my parents bought to go on vacation but never took on vacation… I would hide out in there when I was down visiting and recorded Grey Wave City on a 4-track. The lyrics were written earlier with my friend, Casey Obelisk, who is a total genius and taught me how to write lyrics. “In time and shadow, clouds can see.” Clouds can see is a play on Klaus Kinski, by the way.
13. “Zombie Shark”
OK so one night a friend and I got Netflix delivery DVDs and one of the movies was Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2. I had never seen it before. In the film, there is a scene where a zombie (who kind of looks like Robert Smith) attacks a shark in the middle of the ocean… The scene is quite beautiful. As they attack each other, they end up in a sort of embrace, spinning in the water like a dance…both taking bites out of each other’s flesh…reminds me of the infamous shark sex scene in Lautreamont’s Maldoror.
Anyhow…I don’t know why but I found myself rewinding and watching over and over late into the night. Something about it completely fascinated me. My first solo show was Geneva Jacuzzi and the Zombie Sharks. My fake record label is called Zombie Shark records. I’m obsessed with zombie shark. I think that maybe I will be eaten by a shark one day. Maybe that is how it will all end.