Horoscope Pull Noble Expressions Out of ‘Misogyny Stone’
I met Rene Nuñez at a punk house called Palacio de Los Jugos, named after the South Florida chain, while living in Miami. A number of our mutual friends were living there — K.C. Toimil and Autumn Casey from Snakehole, Nico Cordoba from Nunhex, Eli Oviedo from Dracula, Jerry Crisp. Nuñez was in town for one reason or another, and was playing a Horoscope set in the house’s concrete basement. That set featured broken glass, tears, fire, an egg and the Cuban flag — pretty fitting for Miami, now that I think about it. Since that evening, I’ve seen Horoscope perhaps half a dozen times in various places — a co-op gallery in Richmond, Churchill’s in Miami, Alphaville in Brooklyn. While live Horoscope material brandishes themes or motifs, each set is unique and open to interpretation. Even though Horoscope sets may stem from seething personal expression, Nuñez doesn’t provide any answers. Said another way, the message or feelings you experience may closer reflect your state than Nuñez's.
Following his full-length synth suite El Espejo y El Mar, Nuñez has another Horoscope LP in the can — the heavy, cathartic Misogyny Stone. It’s the most sonically impressive Horoscope release in terms of clarity, scale and composition. Unlike most earlier Horoscope material, Misogyny Stone is notable for its use of modular synth equipment — an endeavor into which Nuñez has been plunging for the better part of a couple years at this point — and the added precision shows. On the record’s throbbing title track, he combines a deep mechanical plodding with dissonance and utterly haunting guest vocals.
Check out the title track, and see what Nuñez has to say about the record.
What’s the title, Misogyny Stone, from?
Misogyny Stone is a bunch of vague concepts and ideas I put together. I’m well aware that in 2017, people need a firm explanation for things — left or right, yes or no. To get it out of the way first, left and no, but as someone who was raised by his grandmother and mother — my father wasn’t much around — in a predominantly macho Hispanic or Latin community, there was and is a masculine perspective from that world I've just never had. Simone de Beauvoir once wrote, "Men cannot be feminists because of intrinsic differences between men and women.” I feel like those differences are an immovable fucking object, so Misogyny Stone construes the idea of maneuvering correctly with my set of ethos during the modern political and social climate.
Let’s talk about using modular equipment. How has that affected your compositions? What about live performance?
Other than it bankrupting me financially, it’s been really inspiring to get into. To me, music is more about the process and expression rather than accolades or an ego boost. I get filled with a sense of purpose when I’m researching modules, watching YouTube videos, or going to control and bothering Rob Lowe, Shawn O’Sullivan and Matt Morandi. I’ll put money aside by not eating out or going out for a week, finally getting a new component and adding it to the case. Last year, I was conflicted in my life, and wondering where it was going. I almost killed the Horoscope project at that point, but the improvisation, depth and meditative quality of composing on the modular steered me in a different direction, one that matched a more adult, positive place — something closer to where I want to be in terms of life and work.
I know you and Drew McDowall are homies, and you've played and recorded together. Has he had any influence on Misogyny Stone from either a hardware or conceptual standpoint?
Drew is my favorite person in the world. Without a doubt, watching him perform whatever magic he does on his synth with ease, undeniable weight and intent influences everything I wish I could do or be doing. He’s been maybe the most supportive person towards my stuff I can think of, which is almost surreal. One of my favorite things to do is grab a slice with him at Joe's and talk about life.
Speaking of live performance, you've got elaborate, theatrical sets, and have performed Misogyny Stone in the past. What goes into a live set? How do you compose one?
It’s all about expressing something using analogies or playing a part. My sets are composed like operas. I’ve often felt that a lot of my sets were infallible to criticism — no matter what, as long as I expressed what I wanted, I was successful. People will always say, “You’re ripping this off," or "That was heavy-handed and immature,” but that doesn’t matter to me as long as I got the intent across. Intent is important to me. That’s the endgame, as far as I’m concerned, and I am willing to do anything I think of to get that point across.
Every time I've seen you play, I've noticed this balance between self-actualization and self-destruction. It makes your sets really tense! Do you think about those two ideas? Are they a part of the project?
They are part of the project, but I definitely wouldn’t limit it to those. There is a lot of meditation, and proving to myself and others how much they matter to me. It’s all open to interpretation — if you see something sad in my live sets, then maybe there's something sad inside you. If you think they’re violent and angry, there’s anger in you. I don’t think the project exists as some provocateur act.
Do you like performing?
A lot of the time, it’s embarrassing, especially when, in my regular day-to-day life as a 32-year-old man, I have to explain why I’m covered in cigarette burns and scars. That gets old. Those past sets now feel like a waste of time and energy, but I had to do them to get to where I am now. I still love playing shows with my friends for the social interaction.
Miami. Cuba. How do they impact your music? How do they impact your mind?
I think Miami and Cuba impact me more as a person. I haven't lived in Miami in years. I miss a Miami that doesn't exist anymore, not this new “children of Republicans pretending to be hip artists” crap or whatever is going on down there now. I think I view Miami the same way its exile community views Cuba: It’s a place that can only exist in memory. That said, I’m sure the same could be said about New York. But my sensibilities of leaning towards the romantic and dramatic definitely come from listening to ballads, and seeing my grandmother watch telenovelas.
What do you think ZZ Ramirez is doing right now?