Geoff Westen's artistry - creativity forged through determination, hard work and skill - is evident in all his work. That artistry tempered with a little cynicism and obsession, produce some of the most distinctive music being recorded today.
His latest release on the Disturbing Music label is I'M NOT CRAZY (2015), his third foray into Westen territory - an outrageous melding of pop rock and power punk designed to excite your aural neurons and invigorate your cerebral cortex.
Geoff has thrown himself wholly into the production of music for music's sake. As a firm believer in escapism and endless possibility, he expanded Disturbing Music Publishing, into an independent music label in 2003.
Most fans know him as a PowerPop artist. His 2006 album The Pigs - OINK! showcased his distinctive Neo Wave sound and lyrically, his dark humor and sarcasm. It was released to stellar reviews, was listed by Hybrid Magazine as one their "Up and Coming Favorites," and was named one of the "Top 25 2007 Indie CDs" by Indie-Music.com. Geoff's 2008 follow-up, Vidiots - Tune In!! established him as a Neo-Wave specialist. His instinctive '80s feel and traditional songwriting chops deliver catchy melodies and memorable hooks...shifting his PowerPop chops on this album ever closer to PowerPunk.
Yet Geoff remains highly unpredictable. It's been said that, "it doesn't matter what kind of music he takes on, he beats the crap out of it. You know it's HIS music and he owns it!" And amongst a melange of albums that traverses the broad territory between the '80s and today, Geoff continues to bang out a legacy that has no guidelines or boundaries. His work may sometimes seem chaotic, yet for those willing to stick their heads and ears inside the chaos, there lies a safe haven.
For his Digital Activity projects, Geoff creates Rock Ambient soundscapes. He describes each track as an "instrumental painting" with its own palette of colors and its own storyline. He applies layer-upon-layer of sonic pigment until a work is complete. The auditory experience of listening to Geoff's Rock Ambient instrumental work can be described as passively cerebral: each track is a journey that moves and shifts organically, yet, under scrutiny, yields a wealth of hidden sounds and meaning that bear listening to again and again.
What is Rock Ambient? Says one reviewer, "if you were to take Pink Floyd's Ummagumma and Animals and re-mix them with an '80s dance track, you might have something close to the Rock Ambient sound. Assuming you listened to it on acid."
GEOFF WESTEN'S MUSICAL LEXICON
"One of the things I look for while listening to new music is whether or not it continues to hold my interest. You have to listen to a lot of bad shit, to find the good.
"If I respect an artist, no matter how awful I think a track or CD is on first listening, I'll make sure I listen to it again. When I find a track that reveals new textures and flavors, it may ultimately become a favorite even if I didn't respond to it on first listening.
"I hope my first time listeners will do the same. There's always a lot going on in my tracks. I even put a lot of invisible parts in there. You don't really hear them as much as you feel them. They add a special ingredient. They don't stand out. I consider the layering of sound and parts to be the defining aspect of my process or style. You'll always hear new things on my tracks with repeated listening."
As you might expect, GW has a serious studio addiction and will remain there for weeks at a time (assuming he has a steady supply of stimuli), without the bother of human contact, until a track is perfection. Describing his obsession, Geoff explains, "I love it. I can't wait to get going every morning, knowing that by the end of the day, I will have created something exciting that didn't exist when the day began. That gets me off!
"As far as the stories in my songs are concerned, I get plenty of material where most other songwriters get their inspiration, from the world around us. I'll often put myself into a story that I've created and live out the experience. I guess I'm a musical actor of sorts - making myself the central character in the song rather than telling stories about other people. I write in the first person most of the time. I don't know if my fans have a clue that I do this, but I always have, and probably always will.
"Because technology has given me the tools to record what and when I like, my little digital bandmates are always 100% behind what I am doing. They're never late, they never get tired, they never complain. They'll play the same 8 bars a thousand times in a row and be ready for more. 20 years ago I might have put up with the crap you have to deal with trying to lead a bunch of musicians - but now - I love my "guys". But that being said, I've been very lucky to find a few wonderful musicians who put their own egos aside and play it like I ask them to. Thanks!
"I really try not to be predictable. My career is a perpetual work in progress. My fans expect change and I try to challenge them. I think it's worth the risk of reinventing yourself creatively each time you get a chance to express yourself. No matter what sonic hiway you travel down, when you reach the end of your journey, good music is good music. So, don't expect to hear the same thing over and over. If I find that boring, I would think my fans would too.
"Enjoy the new CD. Every note you hear came from the heart. By the time you're reading this, I have probably moved on to something new and exciting. Keep listening and watching what comes out of my Disturbing world."
A QUICK NOTE ABOUT OZ STUDIOS
You should also know that Geoff is equally obsessed with visual design. He creates and edits all Disturbing graphic elements under his Oz Studios imprint, to make sure everything is kept consistently Disturbing. Whether it's album art, the website or the infamous Disturbing email campaigns, Geoff's visual work reflects his unique expression.
In addition, Oz Studios has been commissioned for commercials, websites, advertising and graphics for numerous other artists, companies and products.