“I’m a bit of a mutt” declares Guy Fantastico, a statement which may be true of his origins but not of his music. “I was born in Florida. Spanish was my first language… both of my parents grew up speaking Spanish. My mother was born in Cuba and my father was born in what I believe is now the Ukraine, but he fled as a child with his family and hopped around Latin America. I’ve been living in Los Angeles for the past few years, but lately I’m finding myself in New York more often” he explains.
This cross continental background may help to define Fantastico as an individual, but did this inspire his sound? “My parents aren’t musical, I remember growing up in a musical environment.” Citing The Beatles and The Beach Boys as two of his greatest influences, perhaps it was hearing them in his parents’ car constantly that had a profound effect. However, he grew up in the nineties and was heavily into the alt-rock anthems of the time. At thirteen he was given a guitar, upon which he quickly learnt to play classics including “Found Out About You” (Gin Blossoms). Joining together with his best friend, the two set about writing their own songs and experimenting with their own sounds.
It’s a combination of triggering backing tracks, looping live instrumentation and performing the keyboard/guitar parts on top of that.
The success of the pairing was limited, but it did spark a fire in Fantastico’s stomach. “I don’t think there was an epiphany per se. I was certainly encouraged by my parents. But the truth isno matter how terrible the first songs I wrote were, playing in a band in high school with my closest friends was a such a thrilleverything stems from that.” With the passion strong, Fantastico decided to go it alone, after realising he worked better with a producer than other musicians (“with egos to contend with”). Finding that writing from personal experience, “about people I know or situations I’ve found myself in”, working alongside one other person was easier than diluting the situation with many. Debut album Nesting started off as demos made of programmes including Reason and Garageband, which he decided to develop with Bobby Birdman alongside him, quite simply because “there really isn’t anyone better than him”. The two of them headed off to Jaco, Costa Rica with their “Midi keyboards, computers, speakers and whatever toys we could fit into our bags.”
Nesting is comparable with mid-period Goldfrapp, with its really relaxed vocal set against equally laid back electro pop. In many ways, it is a minimalist, synth-heavy, computer-programmed sound. Quite distinct, but in the way that you believe after one listen you know the song already. Other comparisons have of course been drawn. Due to his baritone voice, Magentic Fields (“which is beyond flattering”) and Evan Dando have been mentioned several times. Bobby Birdman was thinking along the lines Tears For Fears, perhaps explaining track “Worse and Worse”. Fantastico is hesitant to compare his abilities with someone else’s, but would be happy with any comparison — even if it were Milli Vanilli! I guess a mention is better than none!
Given that the recording process was so isolated and focussed more on computer generated sounds than live instruments, Fantastico has often hooked up with the Haim Sisters create a completely new listening experience for his growing number of admirers. However, should they not be available to perform alongside him, “it’s a combination of triggering backing tracks, looping live instrumentation and performing the keyboard/guitar parts on top of that”. Sadly, Fantastico is not on the road this summer but he will be performing as part of Helado Negros band — “singing and playing the guitar and vibraphone.” However, with single “Nom De Guerre” and the sensational album Nesting available now, there is no excuse not to know all the songs on there by the next time he tours. For more details on all releases, drop in to his MySpace.