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Inspired by the mystical, ethereal, and untapped areas of the human psyche, Los Angeles-based artist Gorus (Ethan Tryer) releases his first album under the new artist name. “Future Soul” is symbolic of a fresh start rooted in newfound groundedness and artistic growth. The album, which includes his latest single ‘Never Was, Never Will’ is a clever collection of Gorus’ introspective thoughts and natural ability to bring a refreshing twist to the alt-rock music scene.

We sat down with Gorus to learn more about the album, what makes him tick and so much more here at Curious for Music!


What inspired your decision to release "Future Soul" under the new artist name, Gorus?

There was a certain point somewhere in the middle of making this record where I felt a shift had taken place. I would call it a “musical maturation” of sorts. Before this point, I had a constant feeling of never quite getting where I wanted to go, of never liking the sound of my voice, never being able to sing freely, and never feeling satisfied with my recordings. But there came a certain period of my life where I started to really learn how to accept things for how they really are. I learned to accept the “me” that was in my music instead of trying to make myself sound like someone or something else. It kind of amazes me how quickly everything opened up after this - my voice opened up and I started being able to write the type of songs I’d always imagined in my head. Not that they’re perfect now by any means, but I finally felt able to express myself clearly and directly in a way that seemed impossible before.

I’d never really cared much for my old artist name, but at this point I felt like I had to take up a new name as a symbol of this transformation. I’d had the name Gorus around for a while. At some point I gave the name to a recurring character in my artwork, a sort of earth-spirit trapped in a pile of stone - a rock with eyes basically. Later on I had a moment in a desert in Arizona when I was a bit out of my mind laying on a pile of rocks and I realized that I was in fact Gorus. It was one of those brief moments in life where everything makes perfect sense.

How did personal experiences and challenges influence the creation of your upcoming album?

The period of my life prior to this album was very idyllic in a way. For two years everything went nearly perfectly, which had never happened to me before. I guess you get lucky once in a while. But life has a funny way of breaking you just when you think you have it figured out. For some reason I was driven to leave this nice phase of life. My girlfriend at the time and I packed up and moved to Los Angeles, and not long after everything fell apart for me. The album I had been working on for four years prior flopped, my relationship fell apart, I had no money, and I didn’t know anybody in Los Angeles at all really. Maybe all of this would have been fine, but I had a pretty bad mental breakdown because of it. It was as though life came along and shattered the shield I had built around myself and I was completely defenseless. And so the album really started at this point, and continued on through the process of rebuilding myself from the rubble.

Can you discuss the creative process behind your single, "Never Was, Never Will," and its connection to John Wilde's painting?

I maybe have a bit of an unusual way of making music. Most of my songs don’t begin with a musical idea. Usually the inspiration will come from a phrase, an image, a book…something not related to music, but that feels like an entire world is hidden within it. When I get that feeling, I know that world also contains its own music. It’s like a seed that’s been planted, and I know at some point the song will start to grow. Sometimes this takes years. This is the case with “Never Was, Never Will” and John Wilde’s painting. The painting had been stuck in my unconscious ever since I saw it in a museum when I was in college. Even back then I knew there was a certain music emanating from the painting, like it was almost asking me to make it. Sure enough, nearly ten years later I started strumming the chords on the acoustic guitar and almost immediately knew it was connected to the John Wilde painting. After that it’s just a matter of finding the right sounds and colors to bring that world into full view.

How do the frame-by-frame animations you've created enhance the listening experience of "Future Soul"?

I think it’s a rare thing for a musician to also create all the visuals for their music. Usually, you’re getting someone else’s interpretation of the music. Which is interesting in its own way, but I don’t think people typically get to see what the music looks like to the person creating it. Rather than it becoming two different tangentially-related pieces of art, it becomes two dimensions of a single piece of art. This I think adds a lot of depth to the work and makes it a more immersive, synesthetic experience. I find it very interesting to say that the music and the visuals are two expressions of the same thing, because this implies that the thing itself is neither the music nor the art. What is it then, one might ask? Well, that to me is the mystery of art. I can sense this abstract thing somewhere inside me. I can express it in terms of sound or images, but those are really just pointing to the thing itself. And if I do a good enough job of translating, then hopefully other people can sense that very same abstract thing I am trying to show them.

How did the concept of apocalypse as an archetypal force influence the thematic direction of your album?

I mentioned earlier the sort of personal apocalypse I went through at the start of the record. But what really kicked things off was seeing people worry about a global apocalypse with the pandemic. I had written “(giant vacuum)” just before the pandemic, which is a kind of joke song about an apocalypse where everyone gets sucked up by a giant vacuum cleaner. And then people actually started talking about the end of the world. At that point everything sort of came together - the personal and the universal all started to look like the same thing to me. It wasn’t really conscious, but I think that idea sort of slipped into a lot of the album. There is a definite back and forth between the microcosmic and the macrocosmic. But I think one of the main things I was getting at with the album is that there isn’t really a difference between the two.

How do you approach blending alt-rock, the ethereal, and artistic vision in your music?

I write a lot of songs, but I’m really only motivated to finish the ones that have that ethereal quality to them. I don’t really have any desire to just write good rock songs. There has to be something more to it, some atmosphere or spirit or dimension that goes beyond just being a nice song or else I just don’t really care about it. I tend to know right away if a song is capable of having that quality to it. I often compare my process of making music to sculpture - I’ll usually know where I want a song to end up, and so it’s a matter of chiseling away at it until it becomes as close to the vision as I can possibly make it. This maybe takes away a bit of the spontaneity, but I find it gives the work a certain spiritual weight. I like works that have been labored over for long periods of time. It can be difficult not to damage things, but if you do it right you can put years of charged energy into the work, and its scope expands across time.

Can you describe the sonic landscape of "Future Soul" and how you achieved its blend of sounds?

Each song to me has its own very particular landscape to it. This is one of the most important rules I set for myself. It’s really the combination of these that makes the album what it is. That being said, there are definitely connections between many of the songs on the record. I didn’t try to follow any overarching concept or theme, but somehow most of it revolved around this idea of an empty, dying planet. I sort of split the album up into two distinct halves when I was putting it together. The first half of the album is the “earth” half. I think of these songs as more stripped-down and traditional with mostly acoustic instruments. The second is the “space” half, and this half definitely has a lot more atmosphere and electronic elements to it. To me it’s almost like “Bitter Motorway” takes off from a dead earth at the halfway point and flies out into space. The second half of the album is hanging somewhere out there in search of something.

How do you feel your sound has evolved from your previous work as Amina to your current project as Gorus?

It seems to me that my musical path has been a bit different from that of most musicians I see. A lot of musicians come out kicking and screaming or just trying to make something happen when they are young. I definitely wanted to do this when I was in my early twenties, and I tried to, but I came to realize that I had a lot of work and a lot of growing to do before I could really make anything sustainable happen. And so I buckled down and locked myself away in dark rooms and dusty basements for years and years tuning my skills and soul to be able to express what I needed to in this life. And one day, some seven or eight years later, I crossed the threshold. Amina was my music before this point - incomplete, searching for something but not quite getting there. To be honest I didn’t even really know how to write a song. I always just had to piece scraps together until it became something - pieces stuck together with no center. But some type of clarity came and the fog settled down when I became Gorus. There was finally a core holding everything together now. 

What aspirations do you have for your music career under the name Gorus?

I’m always going on about this, but I’d really like to make something that could be remembered in the future. I’m always reading old dusty books from hundreds, sometimes thousands of years ago. It’s remarkable that people are still reading these books after that much time. But that to me is proof that the authors of those books put something into it that goes beyond time and space, something that a human being could read two thousand years later and still feel the wisdom or beauty held within it. Those are the kinds of things I hope to put into my music and art. Obviously I can’t control whether anyone will remember it in the future, but if I can make something of that quality, I will feel like I’ve done something good with my life.

Stream "Future Soul" in full here:


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