"I'm pretty out of it," Sven Gamsky says, trying to explain why he calls himself Still Woozy.

"If you were to ask any of my friends, they'd say I'm always out of it and spacey. And I fuckin' hate waking up in the morning. I just feel like a bag of shit, you know? I always feel kinda woozy​."

Still Woozy—it's a name that nicely defines both Gamsky and his music. Since quitting a technically-minded math rock band last year, he's been focused on finding simpler, more emotional sounds that connect on a human level. So far, he's found success: Gamsky's SoundCloud page is full of accessible, melodic songs that aren't afraid of throwing weird little electronic flourishes or woozy basslines at you.

With warm instrumentation and an overall melancholic tone, this is cozy, intimate music that'll occasionally urge you to get up and dance. Or, as Gamsky explains, these are the kind of songs that'll sound the best "coming down from an acid trip or something."

"I think I'm trying to make music that people can put on and feel like they're connecting with me, but I'm not bumming them out too hard," he says. "There's a suitable amount of melancholy mixed with self-deprecation, and also a general feeling that it's going to be okay.​" He adds, "Intimacy is something that I really care about in music. It needs to feel like I'm connecting with someone or something. That's living."

Actively avoiding the temptation to think about any of this too much, he uploads all of his music right away: "Every song that I put out has been finished hours before I put it out. Literally hours. So, I'm just going to continue to do that."

Inspired by artists ranging from Frank Ocean, Steve Lacy, and Department of Eagles to "old crunchy blues," Gamsky actively takes advantage of modern electronic production techniques—but he makes a conscious effort to incorporate traditional instrumentation. This comes out of a desire to make sure everything he makes feels alive.

"There are some electronic producers who are making really awesome music," he says. "It's so dancey and the grooves are so amazing, but if everything is played on a software instrument, it doesn't feel alive to me. It just feels like there's a wall of glass between you and what's going on, and you can't get to the core of what's happening. But with other elements like guitar and live bass, it breaks things down and makes it feel more intimate."

Read our full conversation with Gamsky below and continue for more Still Woozy music.

still-woozy-artwork
Artwork by Amiya Kahn-Tietz

Let’s start at the beginning. Where are you from and how did you first got into music?

I was born and raised in the Bay Area in a town called Moraga. I started recording my own music when I was 13. I was super depressed. It was bad. That was when I started to figure how to process and understand how I was feeling—and I did it through these bad recordings. I learned the whole recording process through that. 

I played in bands and stuff after that. I was in this band most recently for four years. It was kind of a math rock band and I just didn't feel like I was in the right place. Math rock is super technical and it's fun to try to play the fastest or weirdest time signatures—but ultimately, it lacks the emotional depth that I like. It doesn’t have this other quality that really brought me to music in the first place. I had to take a step away from that group and I immediately started working on Still Woozy.

When did the Still Woozy stuff start?

The band broke up a little over a year ago and I released my first song around six months ago. I was doing a lot of experimenting and it felt good not to have any expectations. I was just trying to figure out what resonated with me and what didn't.

How has your sound changed since your earlier days?

My voice has definitely gotten better. It used to be really bad. I wasn't naturally a good singer but I didn't really know that. There’s also an intrinsic energy flow to a song that works, versus a song that doesn't. There's something under the surface that propels it forward, and it's taken me awhile to understand that.

after playing in my old band, it was hard for me to make something that was more straightforward for a long time. I used to want to make it more complicated than was necessary.

Your music combines elements of electronic and acoustic music. What drew you to that sound?

There are some electronic producers who are making really awesome music. It's so dancey and the grooves are so amazing, but if everything is played on a software instrument, it doesn't feel alive to me. It just feels like there's a wall of glass between you and what's going on, and you can't get to the core of what's happening. But I feel like with other elements like guitar and live bass, it breaks things down and makes it feel more intimate. I think that's what it is. If it's all electronic, it doesn't feel intimate sometimes. Intimacy is something that I really care about in music. It needs to feel like I'm connecting with someone or something. That's living.

What traditional instruments do you play and what’s done on a computer?

Guitar is my main instrument. I write all the songs on guitar. I try to write on other instruments, like the keyboard, but I'm not as good. So it always starts with guitar, then I'll lay down a bass line. I love making beats, too. It's so much fun to have a little beat pad and make grooves. 

It doesn't need to be overcomplicated. I think after playing in my old band, it was hard for me to make something that was more straightforward for a long time. I used to want to make it more complicated than was necessary.

It might be a stretch to call it pop music, but your new stuff is really accessible and easy to listen to. Why do you like making music like that?

That's the reason I got into music. It has an emotional quality that you can resonate with. You don't need to have studied music in order to get it. There are a lot of bands that I really love that have taken me a long time to love. There's definitely merit in that, but ultimately, it felt the most natural to me to make music like this. One of the most important things I've learned is to trust my gut.

honestly, it feels like I black out during the creation process of these songs.

Your new song “Goodie Bag” is my favorite thing you’ve put out yet. What was it like making that song?

I wanted to use an old vinyl sample, so I looked through my library and found this awesome old beat that had a cool little syncopated drum. But, honestly, it feels like I black out during the creation process of these songs. With something like that, I just kept trying things and it happened. That song took me like a day because it happened so naturally and fast.

When you sit down and make music, what kind of feeling are you generally trying to get across?

I think I'm trying to make music that people can put on and feel like they're connecting with me, but I'm not bumming them out too hard. There's a suitable amount of melancholy mixed with self-deprecation, and also a general feeling that it's going to be okay.

I was actually traveling in Cambodia a couple months ago. I was in a hot tub with this Cambodian person and we were just talking. I showed him one of my songs and he said, "Oh! This is happy, sad, dreamy, melancholy, all at once!" And I was like, "Whoa, you're right." I hadn't ever really thought about it, but this random person characterized the music perfectly.

Where does most of your inspiration comes from, outside of music?

I love reading. I used to take more inspiration from books I was reading, but with this project, I think it's more inspiration from my own life. I have the tendency to get really deep in my head—just really cerebral about bullshit. So I can create scenarios really quickly and go off and get lost in my mind, far away from reality. In the past, when I tried to connect my music to something I read, my songs have turned into these cryptic things that only I could understand. But that's not what this project is about. I definitely put thought into the lyrics, but I don't want it to be something you feel like you need an education to understand. Also, besides all of that, a big inspiration for my music is my partner for sure.

What have you been listening to lately?

I'm so late on this. I can't even believe it [Laughs]. But I just really got into Frank Ocean like a year ago. I'm floored.

[Laughs] You're definitely late. But yeah, he's the best.

So late! But it's amazing. His fucking melodies and the mood that he captures is really something that I admire. I couldn't even try to make music like that because I feel like it's completely its own thing. But that's been super inspiring. Also, I've always been a big fan of Department of Eagles. D’Angelo, too, of course. And even Hank Williams and old crunchy blues. He has some really beautiful songs.

I don't want [my music] to be something you feel like you need an education to understand.

I hear a little hip-hop influence in your drums. Do you listen to much rap?

I definitely do, like, on SoundCloud. And this isn't straight hip-hop, but I love Steve Lacy, too. He's definitely inspired a lot of my stuff. And I have friends that are beat makers who inspire me, as well.

If you had to describe the ideal setting for someone to listen to your music, what would be? 

Live at my shows! [Laughs]. I don't know, coming down from an acid trip or something.

All of the artwork on your songs is really cool. Who does those?

My partner does all of those.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Your name Still Woozy jumped out at me right away. Where'd that come from?

I'm pretty out of it. If you were to ask any of my friends, they'd say I'm always out of it and spacey. And I fuckin' hate waking up in the morning. I just feel like a bag of shit, you know? I always feel kinda woozy—so I went with Still Woozy. Not woozy like I need to throw up all the time or anything, I'm just out of it. My dad is exactly the same. He's the most fuckin' out of it dude you'll ever meet.

Anything else you’d like people to know?

I'm not the kind of person that's going to sit on something that I make. Every song that I put out has been finished hours before I put it out. Literally hours. So, I'm just going to continue to do that. So for people just now finding out about the music, you're getting an up-to-date idea of what's going on. But I plan on doing that more and releasing something soon.

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