Trickster Guru is the alternative rock and electronic project of singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Christopher Caplan. His unique understanding of technology intersecting with music via augmented reality, shows an honorable dedication to the future of music, of which he hopes to create his own pathway and musical culture.
We recently talked with Christopher Caplan to get his take on alternative culture. Read on to find out more about your next favorite artist.
Comments From The Curating-Editor
There’s a few essential rites of passages that talented LA musicians go through, including being featured by KCRW, and playing the weekly It’s A School Night showcase at Bardot. Trickster Guru has done both. Christopher Caplan’s trip-hop-adjacent alternative rock is invigorating, with a stimulating allure emerging from the late-night mysticism of his electro-rock.
Take his latest single Problem Child for example: reminiscent of a more soul-based Sleigh Bells, blended with influences Jeff Buckley, The Doors & Flume, there’s a dark “sweet ecstasy” in that distorted and gritty breakdown, which perfectly parallels the Lynchian inspired music video (directed by VIIISION); it’s the aural equivalent of the alleyway glow of neon amid one’s ruminating thoughts. Other tracks in his discography include fervent atmospheric alt-rock for after sundown, as well some infectious passion-driven folkpop—all in all retaining 60s & 70s soul and psych-haunt. If you’re looking for a more vintage urban soundtrack look to Trickster Guru as your guide.
What are your top 3 favorite albums that inspired you to get into music?
That’s an extremely hard question to answer. Classics that will always sit in my heart of hearts might be Take Five by Dave Brubeck, In Rainbows by Radiohead and New Morning by Bob Dylan
What are your fondest musical memories?
Fondest musical memories… It’s a bit all over the place. I remember being blown away at Coachella in 2014. Lorde, Lana del Rey and then Skrillex really inspired me to change my style up. That and seeing Willie Nelson perform in a small town hall in Missouri with my dad when I was 16. Getting together the best musicians I grew with to back me up at School Night in Los Angeles last April was a beautiful experience too.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
A lot of hip hop, electronic soul and experimental electronic music. Then Sturgill Simpson and Brian Eno’s ambient stuff when my brain needs a detox.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process? Is there a particular message or theme central to your creative works?
I usually start with a strong melodic vocal hook or melodic idea, then come the chords on the guitar or keyboard. I’ll introduce instrumental riffs, synths and beats after the fact and flesh out the structure. As the lyrics form I become more confident in the mood of the song, which helps me choose the sonic palette. The songs are finalized and rearranged with my band or another producer. The last EP’s record touched a lot on death, darkness, nostalgia, psychedelia, heartbreak and conflict.
We’re a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe your city’s music scene? How has it inspired you into crafting your sound?
LA’s music scene is incredibly diverse and innovative. I find myself influenced by it tremendously. From it’s Laurel Canyon rock and folk roots to it’s west coast hip hop sensibility, electronic club scene… you name it. It’s also incredibly competitive and rich with opportunity. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else at the moment.
How would you describe your visual aesthetic, in terms of album artwork, music videos, and artistry? How does the music you create contribute to your visuals? Does this extend to your live show experience?
The current visual aesthetic I think is vintage (not too keen on being self-described as retro, but…) but has a distinctly modern feel. We had some incredible photographs that emphasize darkness, but also the calmness of the ocean. Dark and Californian, I guess. Los Angel-alien. I’m also heavily drawn to my visual collaborator Viiiision’s style who made the “Problem Child” music video. He’s also influenced by futurism and nostalgia. He’s from Vegas too so we have this post-modern urban decay meets the desert thing going. For live shows we all just wear black. Simplicity is key.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
I’m totally fine with online music sharing. I think it’s great. I’m totally in support of streaming becoming bigger and bigger. So the pie grows for everyone. Social media is essential. Sometimes it can be soul killing and time consuming, but if you can be creative with it and catch some momentum I think you can really have a lot of fun with it and grow your audience.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
I’d like to write a record with Son Lux. I just love the way he composes and designs sounds. I’d like to take his stylizations along with my writing and production to make a left field pop record with crossover potential. That would be fun.
Which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
Currently obsessed with Anderson .Paak. That dude is the real deal. A soulful triple threat. New acts I recommend that are semi-local… Gallant, Stephen, T.O.L.D. and Nick Leng. Best kept indie secret… used to be Anderson .Paak! haha. Maybe Andy Shauf or Nombe.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
I’m currently working on what will be the next Trickster Guru EP or LP. Probably a lot of experiments and throwaways on the path to a finished product. That and toying with bringing more synths and MPC’s into the live set.