Ell V Gore has slowly but surely been creating rifts in the Toronto music scene. With the recent release of his debut EP, Sex Static, Ell V has enveloped the darkness and has been sending gothic chills of pure no-wave and punk-inspired darkwave bliss to anyone willing to lose themselves in the seedy, ethereal black world of Gore. With blood-curdling howls, scathing guitar, and frantic, paranoid percussion, Sex Static is a very well composed EP that could be filed along with a Joy Division that maybe spent a little too much time at that one industrial rave warehouse that you have always felt uncomfortable walking by. Having played a couple of showcases at NXNE, opening up for the likes of Iceage, I recently got a chance to sit down with the lead madman himself, Ell V. Seated on a eerily yet hysterically appropriate leopard print chair, I spoke to Elliot about his past, his influences, and he even gave a nod to my Sonic Youth shirt, which is a definite thumbs-up.
Ell V: Sorry about this leopard print chair, which was here, I didn’t put it here.
MV: No don’t worry about it, it looks awesome.
So how have you been liking the festival so far?
Well it’s only the second night, so I haven’t really checked anything out too much yet. I saw Merchandise the other night; there were a few songs that were good.
Yeah, that was the secret show right?
Yeah, well they were playing the same night as us so I wanted to catch them at least once. At first I wasn’t really into them, but then I found out that they have a full drummer now so I thought I would check it out. There were a couple good tunes.
Are there any acts that you are really looking forward to?
The next act going on after this band, Cellphone, they’re like one of my favourite Toronto bands. They’re crazy and need to get out there. Wild, spastic, punk shit. Really cool.
You probably know Iceage right? I really want to check them out.
Oh yeah, we’re playing with them! On Sunday at The Garrison. They’re the “secret band”.
Oh wow, thanks for that! That’ll be awesome.
[Laughs] Totally. Iceage is cool but I haven’t seen them live. Their records are pretty good though,
I hear their shows get pretty wild. Congratulations on the EP, I’m a really big fan.
Cool, man, glad you dig it.
Can you tell me how Ell V Gore got started?
I was in a nosier, no-wave punk band a couple of years ago called Brides. We were recording a record but then broke up during that and I still wanted to do my own thing so I started doing some solo stuff. My middle name is Vincent so I kept the Ell-V and then just added ‘Gore’ on the end because why the fuck not, like it doesn’t really make any sense, but I just did it and kept it going. I got a band together and it took a while to get started and eventually release an EP but I had done other recordings, but I just was not happy with them. Now I have learned that when you record something, to just put it out and not to be a fucking diva.
Ell V Gore is a badass name though.
Is it? [Laughs] Nobody really knows what it is though yet but like it was hard getting shows or getting my record label to pass that name through, they thought I was a Spanish rocker or something.
What would you say inspires your sound, musically or otherwise?
I have always been into that really abrasive, jarring 80’s stuff like Swans but I wanted to put my own take on the aggressive punk sound. I have also been listening to a lot of synth stuff too, so I just blended the two together. And influences… I don’t really know. I guess when I started working at the strip club and seeing a certain side of Toronto like every day, going to work and not seeing the sun for 24 hours, and getting in a weird head space. It wasn’t angry, but I don’t know, I just sort of threw it out there.
Exactly, I wouldn’t call your music angry per se, but there is just a lot of energy behind it.
Yeah, there’s a lot of energy and is sort of like hyper ‘rock’, fuck, I don’t even know.
I would consider your sound dark right?
And what would you say attracts people to the darker side of things?
I guess it’s just some sort of taboo, like it just may not be your average, everyday lifestyle but everyone has their own dark side. It’s good to get it out sometimes.
What sort of music were you into growing up?
My father was into jazz, so I grew up listening to a lot of jazz stuff and that led to me getting into more ‘out-there’ experimental jazz and avant-garde shit like certain Cole Train records and Sun Re and all that weird junk stuff. So I got into that and that led to me, well you’re wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt, and Sonic Youth was one of those influences. I had an older brother who listened to them and I was terrified at first when I listened to them because I was a little kid. They’re one of the bands that altered a lot of things. I grew up listening to a lot of no-wave and all that crap.
I find that Sonic Youth is a great entry point for more abstract music. And so Pretty Pretty, that was a monthly party at first?
Yeah, at first.
How did it evolve into a label?
This friend just came in, my friend Cam who was recording a record, Kontravoid, I don’t know if you know him?
I spoke with him a couple of weeks ago. He’s a really cool guy.
Yeah, he’s a cool guy. And basically friend John was looking to put out a record and Kontravoid had finished his and then I was doing these parties and they I guess they wanted to bring me in and there was already this momentum behind it and we just decided to put the records out as Pretty Pretty Records.
I loved that video where Ell V Gore and Kontravoid played ‘Lobotomy’ together.
That was funny and a while ago actually. Yeah, that was a completely different version of the song.
I loved the cheesiness and the vibe from it. [laughs]
Oh yeah, it’s cheesy. You can’t take everything too seriously.
Did you always want to go into music?
Sure. I wasn’t really good at anything else. I got a guitar one day and started banging on it and experimented until I found something that I thought sounded good.
If it weren’t for music, where could you see yourself?
I don’t know how to answer that, man. Drug addict maybe? It keeps me busy during the day and at night.