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GEN F: Nite Jewel

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photographer Daryl Peveto

The three plus minutes of “Let’s Go the Two of Us Together” by Nite Jewel wobble along like the synthesizer is stuck on the “Funky Conga” preset. There is an alluring ramshackleness to it, the way the replicant instruments pile in then disappear and how the beat sometimes stutters like it’s processing too much information. But amidst the keyboard cowbell patterns and electronic flute runs, there is a voice that haunts the track. It’s like a listless spirit lives in the low fidelity, becoming the literal soul that some accuse dance music of not having. That said, Ramona Gonzalez, who records and performs as Nite Jewel, says she didn’t even realize she was making dance music until other people started calling it that. But it is, even if it’s wearing a dirty sweater.

Gonzalez, a twenty-four-year-old philosophy major at Occidental College, lives in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles with her husband and collaborator Cole M.G.N., who also plays in Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. “We do all our recording and practicing in this house. We can play music as loud as we want,” she says. “Our neighbor is this cool dude who doesn’t really care. We don’t really have any other neighbors. It’s just sweet.” Gonzalez recently started making music with Emily Jane, a video artist who Gonzalez was kind of obsessed with. The two just got back in town after opening shows for Deerhunter and the tour made them realize how much they love America. “Emily and I share the same sort of taste. We don’t like beauty all the time. We’re into banalities and problems and disasters that sweep the nation,” says Gonzalez by way of explanation. “And the people are nice,” adds Jane, sincerely.

“Let’s Go the Two of Us Together” is the B-side to the “What Did He Say” 12-inch that was put out by Italians Do It Better, and both songs appear on the Good Evening album, which was released on CD by Human Ear Records. Though these two indie labels exist in different spheres, Nite Jewel captures both the distant beauty of Italians and the motley home recording vibe of Human Ear. “As much as I can keep people questioning the music for as long as possible is good. I do not want to make people think they can expect the same thing from me all the time,” says Gonzalez. “If someone is talking about disco, I’m like, Dude, I don’t make disco.” Returning to the living room with mugs of hot tea, Cole chimes in, “It’s the same way Arthur Russell didn’t make disco. What’d he call it? Buddhist bubblegum.” Gonzalez repeats those words, “Buddhist bubblegum.” Then with an audible “awww,” her hand moves to her chest to calm a fluttering heart.

Posted: October 13, 2011
GEN F: Nite Jewel