🎵 IT060: Late Night Grind
✏️ Victor Bizar Gomez
🗓 19.04.20

Victor is an illustrator and muralist from Phoenix, Arizona, based in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Hi Victor! Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

For Sure! This playlist is based around what I felt was a standard night in compression for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been something of a night owl. It takes great effort to get my sleeping schedule to a point in which I’d be awake during the day, but it takes damn near no effort to fall back into a nocturnal schedule. It can make for an interesting experience, and it leads to a whole range of emotions throughout the night. I wanted to make this playlist around those feelings, and the symbolic associations I have come to tie them to.

The playlist begins its narrative with “Good Morning Neighbor” by Blu and Exile, a song that perfectly describes the wistfulness of waking up in the late afternoon and seeing the world around you start to come down just as you start to warm up.

The next part of the playlist reflects the good vibrations you get when you first get started on your work day, and would carry on until right before midnight. Around this time tends to be where I start to find myself feeling pensive, and I try to combat this with a night walk about the city, while lost in thoughts. The nexts couple of songs starting from “Liquor Sto’” by EARTHGANG onward will reflect this mood.

Once I get back home, I start to enter this weird area in which I might have thought a bit too hard, and now find myself feeling a little sad, a little anxious, and a little paranoid. This is where songs like “False Media” or “Game Theory” by The Roots start to hit differently.

Past this point, I tend to hit a low energy point of the night. While I’m still able to work, I can’t help but feel my mind drift away more and more. Things get done at a slower pace, and I start to feel more relaxed. The songs on the playlist share those vibes as well with songs like “More Out of Life” by Blu and Exile"  or "Heavenly Father” by Isaiah Rashad.

Finally we hit the cooldown, which starts at dawn with songs like “The Festival” by Mac Miller. This is for those moments when the sun begins to rise, slowly bringing light into my studio. Around this time is when I go grab some fresh air, perhaps even take a brisk walk around a park. Really anything I could  to feel like I can salvage some sort of daylight.

What direction did you take with your cover art, and what was your process?

I’ve always been fascinated by the way the song “Respiration” by Black Star would describe their city as a living breathing organism. It really made me think about the symbiotic relationship between a city and the people that live in it, two pieces that are bigger than the sum of their parts. When I coupled those ideas with the themes of solitude, and being lost in your thoughts, I knew that I had a stew going.

Wanting to reflect these feelings in my cover, I pulled out some paper and let myself sketch. When I finally came across an idea that I felt could visually explain my themes of solitude, city architecture, pensiveness, and the late night grind, I busted out the graphite powder and gouache and I painted my image in black and white. Once satisfied with the results, I scanned my image in and colored it in digitally. In terms of colors, I choose colors I felt would match the emotional tone of my piece, and I play around with it until I get to the results you see above.

What are your fave album covers, records with a great music and artwork combo, or musical projects with a visual component?

Probably the easy answer here, but when you want to talk about the ultimate marriage of visual art and music, you kinda have to talk about the Gorillaz. For me, Demon Days is their most definitive work as they were firing on all cylinders for that project. The album art is iconic, the videos were incredibly cinematic, the music slapped, and the CD even came with a little booklet that had cover art out for every song in it. Jamie Hewllet really pulled no punches visually for that project.

Gorillaz – Gorillaz 
2005, Parlophone
Artwork: Jamie Hewlett / Zombie Flesh Eaters

I also have a lot of love for the cover art of CunninLynquists’ album A Piece of Strange. When I first started listening to Hip Hop music, one of the surefire ways for me to give an album a listen was based on cover art. So once I saw the beautiful cover art by Becky Cloonan, I had to listen to it immediately. A Piece of Strange hit all the right chords for me to such an extent that I actually went and bought a T-Shirt with the art on it, which I think is still the only time to this day that I did that.

A Piece Of Strange – CunninLynguists
2006, The LA Underground
Illustration: Becky Cloonan

What did you listen to growing up?

I had a pretty bland music taste all through elementary and middle school. The summer before high school began, I knew I couldn’t keep living this lifestyle, So I made an attempt to branch out and see what's out there. Eventually I decided to give hip-hop music a shot and got my hands on Snoop Dogg’s Blue Carpet Treatment (which by the way, is still a great album)

I was vibing with that album pretty well but things didn’t really click into place until I listened To Common’s Be. That album was a revelation for me, it was like suddenly having the words to describe what I was looking for with hip-hop, and what I was looking for was more shit like Be. This lead to me discovering other childhood favorites like Lupe Fiasco, Little Brother, Blu and Exile, The Roots, CunninLynquists, Shad, De La Soul, Gang Starr, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Aesop Rock, MF DOOM, etc.

For a while It turned me into one of those obnoxious backpackers who was always whining about how people weren’t listening to ‘the good shit‘ and how if it was mainstream then it was ‘trash’ I eventually grew out of that after high school as I began to understand that all music has value and a time and place. Nobody wants to party to an Aesop Rock song, I get that now.

Around that era, I was also listening to other artists outside of hip-hop such as Modest Mouse, The Avalanches, Los Campesinos!, The Thermals, Black Kids, The Carps, Carlos Santana, The Strokes, and Passion Pit.

And what’s on heavy rotation for you at the moment?

Over the last couple years, I’ve been really invested in Childish Gambino, Brockhampton, Run The Jewels, Blu, Jay Prince, Saba, Dojacat, Noname, Isaiah Rashad, and Freddie Gibbs.

When I first moved to Portland I was listening to Mac Miller’s Watching Movies With The Sound Off and GO:OD AM pretty heavy. That time of my life has been tied to those albums so much so that when I listen to them now, it takes me straight to the sensation of walking through the city for the first times, excited to see what was around the corner.

Besides that I also been bumping a lot of vaporwave/future funk. It began as one of those things that I started to do ironically but it quickly changed once I realized the it slapped.

What’s happening in your creative world at the moment?

At the current moment, it really revolves around keeping my head down in my illustration bunker and riding out the rest of 2020 the best I can. I originally had some opportunities and projects lined up for 2020 that fell through over the last couple weeks as the world got thrown into disarray. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for sure, as I try to come to terms with what's going on outward and inwards. Since things have gotten so weird, and jobs have gotten much more scarce, I really wanted to take the time to figure things out and make work that really speaks to me on a different level then what I already make.

Where can we find you?

You can find me at my portfolio website bizarthestar.com. I can also be found at @Bizar_Gomez on Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks Victor!

Blu & Exile - Good Morning Neighbor / Reflection Eternal - Blast / Lushlife - She's a Buddhist, I'm a Cubist (ft. Cities Aviv) / Lushlife - Meridian Sound [Part Three] / Freddie Gibbs - Robes (feat. Domo Genesis, Earl Sweatshirt) / MED - The Strip / Jay Rock - Hood Gone Love It (feat. Kendrick Lamar) / EARTHGANG - Liquor Sto' / Black Star - Respiration / Lupe Fiasco - Dots & Lines / Prefuse 73 - Black List / The Roots - False Media / The Roots - Game Theory / Lupe Fiasco - Streets on Fire / Madvillain - Raid / Blu & Exile - More Out of Life / Isaiah Rashad - Heavenly Father / Jay Prince - Polaroids / Saba - Photosynthesis / JJ DOOM - Bookfiend - Clams Casino Version / Mac Miller - The Festival (feat. Little Dragon) / Childish Gambino - I. the worst guys (feat. Chance The Rapper) / Cunninlynguists - The Park (feat. Chizuko Yoshihiro) [Deluxe Edition] ︎