Buddha Trixie

Buddha Trixie, a staple of the San Diego local music scene, released their debut album, Stop the Space Age, late last month. Influenced by psychedelic rock, the album goes above and beyond what’s expected of a debut. Buddha Trixie spoke to ListenSD about Stop the Space Age as well as their inspiration and aspirations. 

After a couple of hours of lugging a generator, several lights, a fog machine, and a lot of camera equipment around the precarious hills of Sunset Cliffs (all worth the while for the photo shoot), Buddha Trixie and I sat down in a park with ice cream and a case of beer. While we recovered, I asked the boys some questions about their first full-length studio album.

To start off, tell me your names, three of your favorite bands or music artists, and your favorite place to go in San Diego.

Andrew: I’m Andrew Harris and I play guitar. We like hanging out. I like Black Mountain a lot, that’s pretty cool. The beach is pretty cool, like, Del Mar at 11th Street, no one there, pretty cool. I like Tame Impala, Wilco; I like Smith Westerns.

Daniel: My name is Daniel. I play drums and I sing. A couple of my favorite bands… I’m gonna go top three to not do a repeat of Tame Impala. I’m gonna go Radiohead, M83, and, right now, Frank Ocean. Favorite spots in San Diego is a good Jack in the Box. Yeah. I spend a lot of time at Jack in the Box.

Kenzo: My name is Kenzo. I play synths and guitar. I don’t really come to San Diego that often. I mean, it’s pretty often, but not enough to where, like, I know anywhere. So, my favorite place is Andrew’s house. I’ve been listening to, right now, Shellac, Stove, and Palm.

Dennis: My name’s Dennis, I’m the bass player. Around San Diego, I think Coronado’s kind of magical and nice, and I don’t get to go there often enough. I also quite like La Jolla. Andrew’s garage studio is a very cool place. Encinitas, I like a lot, around the meditation center, Swami’s. It’s pretty nice hanging out there. A couple of artists I like a lot: Jimi Hendrix, John Fruiscante, Pink Floyd.

Your first full-length album came out last month! How did you like your experience recording it?

Andrew: It was life-changing. It was also over the course of, like, a year and a half, so it was pretty crazy.

Dennis: I don’t even know if our producer was fully expecting that we were gonna do an entire album. We kind of just had the mindset of, I’d been jamming at that studio for a while and it just to be friends with him and another dude that he knew who was a really great guitar player. And the first few songs seemed kind of a little more loose, nonchalant, kind of, like, let’s just make a song. Not that we weren’t putting total, full attention to it, but it grew and grew, and you reach a point… It was kind of us figuring out how a record is even made, and midway through there was definitely a point where we were deciding what else there was to record, and I kind of went through, at least personally, a crisis of, is this even gonna work? Do these songs fit? Why aren’t we doing these songs that we thought we’d have? We’d had a lot of songs that just lasted forever and were on the shelf because we didn’t have as good of a recording studio situation, so once we were in Rock Inc., we found Ian as a producer, [and] it kind of put the pressure on us to come through with our best no matter what.

Andrew: So, you get six songs in and you start having a crisis about it; you start being, like, is this even good? Is this even worth it? This is crazy. We’re spending all of our money and time, and it’s just so hard for us to be doing it.

Kenzo: It was harder to record because we had to drive back and forth from this area to Sacramento a lot. I mean, it was hardest for you [Daniel], I assume.

Daniel: During school I was at Orange County, so I would drive up to Sacramento every session, and sometimes I would drive all the way up and then my voice just wasn’t the best, so I didn’t record anything that weekend.

Dennis: I can just say, in terms of what it did for my musician-ship… it sort of reoriented my relationship to the bass, and to making music in general, where I changed my physical technique and my practice regimen around what we were doing and how to situate yourself in the mix, or make all the elements blend together. So, now I’m a lot harder on myself when it comes to recording, but that just made me better. You literally are thrown into the fire, and I think we came out better musicians, better songwriters. I’m pretty proud of what we did.

What would you say your main influences were, in the past or just specifically for this album?

Dennis: Tame Impala’s a huge one for this record. The Floyd. Quite a bit.

Daniel: My head. Radiohead.

Dennis: Daniel likes Radiohead a lot. We all do, though. Except maybe Kenzo.

Kenzo: Okay. In terms of my own influences, I tried using as many analog-sounding synths, or actual analog synths. I always liked eighties style and stuff. They were playing “Sunglasses at Night” in the store just now. You can call that an influence I guess. A certain aesthetic.

Daniel: I think one of my main aspirations was the type of epicness you get in M83’s
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming sometimes, of just like the “BWWHHOOOMM,” just the huge crashing notes. Especially on “Falling Out of Orbit” or something, and those kind of spacier songs just being really big and epic.

What’s your usual process for writing?

It happens in many different ways. Sometimes, it just starts from somebody playing by themselves and coming up with something, and then bringing it to the group, or making a demo by themselves and other people hearing it. And sometimes, it just happens in the throes of a jam. Sometimes, it just pops into your head when you’re in class or something. Just a bunch of different ways. If someone else would have an idea and then other people would hear it, they sometimes just made it their own in a really cool way. That happened specifically on “It’s Not the End” where Daniel, on his own, made up a dope-ass chorus for it, and it just changed the direction of the whole song.

Dennis: For vocals, it’s never finished until we’re tracking, because, typically, we have a huge focus – I feel like it’s kind of obvious, since we’re a “jam band,” historically, that we do jam a lot, and make up songs that way – that the instruments kind of come first and then we craft a vocal around that. That’s typically what happens.

You guys have been putting up the lyrics on social media and some explanations behind them. What made you guys decide to do that?

Dennis: That was my idea. I kind of stopped because less and less people were liking it every single time I put one up. I’m thinking about starting again, though. It was a shameless promotional tactic to try and get people to listen all the way through because I was seeing on Soundcloud, when we get to see the listens and stuff, that the first few songs had more there was periodically less, and I was, like, “Come on, people. I know you have no attention span, I know you’re on your phone or whatever, but we made this record to be listened to the whole way through.” That’s what I want from people. I’m not trying to be a narc about it, but I would appreciate people that take the whole journey and evaluate it that way.

I think you already touched a bit on this, but going off to college and living in different cities has been a big struggle for you guys for a while. How have you guys stayed together through all that?

Kenzo: Me and Dennis literally live together. In the same room.

Dennis: Yeah, if we didn’t split up in the first place, I wouldn’t have met Kenzo, for one thing. It’s a new experience whether you want to think about it as a struggle or as just the circumstances of life, and we kind of just do our best.

Kenzo: You’re able to focus more on writing by yourself a little bit, which is important.

Andrew: It’s definitely specifically developed us individually as songwriters or musicians. I’m not sure if I would have branched out and tried to learn other instruments as much if I wasn’t by myself.

Daniel: Also, just being away from your friends sucks too, though. As much as it is a bummer not being able to jam and stuff, also just awaiting every single break because I can’t wait to see my best friends. But also, music school, too, I guess.

Andrew: It’s definitely a bummer in a lot of ways, definitely helped us develop in other ways.

Daniel: It kind of just makes school seem more like it’s a kind of on and off switch of “school mode” versus “friend/music/fun/doing-cool-stuff mode.”

What can people expect from you in the near and far future? Or, what do you hope people will expect from you?

Daniel: We have three shows coming up, hopefully more. On the 28th, we’re playing at Programme Skate & Sound in Fullerton with Kenzo’s other band, Poor Timing, in which he plays drums. And then, on the 29th, we’re playing Be Well Fest in La Mesa with some cool bands, like The Aquadolls and Splavender, and some other guys, who are cool—Los Shadows. And then, on August 5th, we’re actually playing Los Shadows’ EP release show at Fair at 44 with some other bands. So that’ll be fun.

Dennis: The future is tough.

Daniel: That’s the thing about the future, you don’t know what it is.

Andrew: We’re just going to do our best, take it day by day.

Daniel: Trying to definitely play as many shows as possible, and to go to as many new places, if possible.

Kenzo: Explore the world.

Andrew: We want to get into LA.

Daniel: It’d be nice to break into LA a little bit, inject them with some Buddha Trixie. Because, well, we have access to the maps of where people listen, and it’s cool to see that it’s not just localized in San Diego, that there are these mini sub-communities that actually listen to us. And even Russia give us love or something; we get a couple royalty payments every month from Russia Apple Music. The Netherlands. Stuff like that. So that’s the goal—Netherlands.

Dennis: I think in the far future, you can expect us to keep writing and keep trying to grow this thing and let people know that it’s the shit, and they should listen.

Kenzo: All the way the way through.

Daniel: But not to be a narc. Don’t be a narc about it. No narcs. If you’re a narc, stop listening to our music.

Words and Photos by: Francesca Tirpak
Special thanks to: Gaib Ramirez