Next Victim

Al Galvez says he doesn't need friends to make it in the music business. Good thing, too, because he barely seems to have any.

Downtown Miami is nearly deserted on this steaming summer Friday night, but the Wallflower Gallery emits a quiet hum. Following the scent of fresh-brewed espresso, patrons walk through the various rooms of the gallery or sit in the darkened space where guitarist-singer Alex Diaz ekes a pained whisper from his strings. Milling about are the members of Recluse DNA, a radical, experimental eight-piece ensemble scheduled to play later tonight.

Bassist Henry Rajan has played in this group for the past six years. But his main gig was playing bass for A Kite Is a Victim, the mostly acoustic, articulate, and sad band fronted by singer, guitarist, producer, and entrepreneur Al Galvez.

Rajan, a Miami resident whose parents moved to the United States from India, sports a shaved head, a black Sun Ra T-shirt, wire-rimmed glasses, and a black goatee. Usually stoic and even-keeled, Rajan is periodically overtaken by emotion tonight. For three years he stood behind and to the left of Galvez, pulling supple, elastic notes from his fretless bass. Until last spring, that is, when Rajan's disgruntlement began to flower into abject discontent and the big-boned Buddhist began to unravel. By the time he left A Kite Is a Victim, he'd had enough of Galvez.

Joshua Prezant
AKIAV, Mark II: Henry Rajan, Ulysses Perez, and Al Galvez
AKIAV, Mark II: Henry Rajan, Ulysses Perez, and Al Galvez
Carl Ferrari and Xavier Cortes are still mystified by the WAMI episode
Steve Satterwhite
Carl Ferrari and Xavier Cortes are still mystified by the WAMI episode
The original Space Cadette crew of Al Galvez (on floor), Rafael Galvez, and Sander Willig
Steve Satterwhite
The original Space Cadette crew of Al Galvez (on floor), Rafael Galvez, and Sander Willig
Ed Matus (center) and his former band, Subliminal Criminal,ended up on Galvez's bad side
Steve Satterwhite
Ed Matus (center) and his former band, Subliminal Criminal,ended up on Galvez's bad side
Torey Freeman, Jason Haft, and Brett Fisher are behind Galvez -- for now
Steve Satterwhite
Torey Freeman, Jason Haft, and Brett Fisher are behind Galvez -- for now

Details

Performs at 9 p.m. Friday, October 19. 305-321-7586, and at 9 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month at Dada, 52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach, 561-330-3232.

Related New Times stories:
Bandwidth, August 9, 2001
Spacing Out
Victim Mentality


"Fireflies" sample
(play in console or click icon to download)

<p align="center"> If your browser doesn't load the music automatically, click the icon to download it.</A> </p>


"Message Me Never Again" sample
(play in console or click icon to download)

<p align="center"> If your browser doesn't load the music automatically, click the icon to download it.</A> </p>


"Garden Boat" sample
(play in console or click icon to download)

<p align="center"> If your browser doesn't load the music automatically, click the icon to download it.</A> </p>


Out of the Anonymous sample
(play in console or click icon to download)

<p align="center"> If your browser doesn't load the music automatically, click the icon to download it.</A> </p>

Revolver, Club 5922, 5922 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami

Related Stories

More About

"I'm very patient," Rajan says, his voice betraying his irritability. "But I can only put up with someone's crap for so long."

Rajan's dark eyes usually look heavy and serene; now they dart angrily. "Al helped ruin an entire community -- and a good label -- because he had this Mafioso kind of mentality. I just got tired of his Al Capone complex."

Recluse DNA's improvisational, tribal music bears no resemblance to that of A Kite Is a Victim, save for Rajan's fluidly kinetic basswork. Seldom-seen instruments like djembes and circular-saw blades make for a sort of modern-primitive drum circle. Recluse DNA, Rajan explains, is a democracy, not at all what working with Galvez was.

"I never had any chance to present any ideas to him," Rajan complains, holding his arm as if it's going to punch something if he doesn't restrain it. "But I'm coming from a weird, avant-garde jazz school with these guys," he says, gesturing toward his seven bandmates. "I'm not a pop musician. Still, if you're calling it a collective, you have to listen to the other people and their ideas. But Al doesn't listen."

Also on hand at the Wallflower is another A Kite Is a Victim alumnus, drummer Ulysses Perez, performing tonight as a one-man electronica experience called Out of the Anonymous. He, too, was sent packing from AKIAV this past spring. Slender and quick to laugh, Perez scoffs at suggestions that he was bruised by his undesired unemployment. Dressed in black jeans, black shoes, and a black suit jacket with rolled-up sleeves, Perez nervously lights a smoke. "I don't feel I was dismissed unfairly," he says on his way to the stage. Yet his choice of verb betrays the employer-employee relationship he had with Galvez.

While colored tubing above the PA pulsates through a pattern of violets and greens, Perez sits on the floor, cigarette nestled between two fingers, and hits a button on his keyboard. A cascade of ambient pink noise spills out, formless, until a latticework of house-influenced beats slowly builds in volume beneath it. A pattern of stars is projected on a screen. With fresh stubble, a soul patch, and a penitent-monk cap of black hair, Perez is a noir hipster, his computerized music dwelling on the threshold between Harold Budd and Cabaret Voltaire. In contrast to his nimble brush work when he was seated behind Galvez in A Kite Is a Victim, Perez doesn't do much in Out of the Anonymous besides turn dials and switch samples and tapes on and off, which is the way he wants it. At one point he announces that he has brought a poem to read; however, after hurriedly searching his pockets for the piece, he says -- with palpable disgust -- that he's somehow managed to misplace it.

It's hard to imagine Al Galvez committing a similar mistake. The 27-year-old Galvez is a perfectionist and workaholic who sleeps only a few hours per night and is constantly self-promoting, practicing, and preaching. The quality of that work is the reason he's found so many people eager to collaborate with him. Galvez's pull was strongest in the mid-'90s, when his label, Space Cadette Records, positioned itself at the epicenter of a tiny artistic renaissance. He created an empire in South Florida that inspired and provided refuge for hundreds of the area's disenfranchised artists. The compound opened a book-and-record store and performance space; local compilation CDs quickly followed, as well as Space Cadette's first helpings of South Floridian avant-rock from Swivel Stick and Ed Matus' Struggle. Galvez even wears a promoter cap from time to time, bringing obscure indie acts to a region they'd otherwise ne'er deign to tread.

Yet today, some seven years after the founding of Space Cadette, the list of local folks who'd publicly like to wring Galvez's neck often seems as if it would fill a South Florida musicians' directory. Rajan and Perez are but two of Galvez's erstwhile partners who've seen their professional relationship with the singer-songwriter turn to ashes. Detractors often appear jealous, because Galvez has gradually moved Space Cadette far from its bohemian origins, making it more of a tightly run business -- and little more than a front for A Kite Is a Victim. They're angry because, in his search for the perfect band, Galvez has cast aside musicians he deems unworthy as if they were old phone numbers on tattered scraps of paper. The jilted still feel the pain of their unappreciated sweat and toil. Backtracking along Galvez's time line reveals that he changes band members the way some people change socks. It's as if the turf Galvez has sown is now blanketed by the sound of grinding axes and the souring scent of grapes, threatening to drown out his wistful, melancholy music.

"It's like a marriage," Galvez says of his arrangement with his ex-bandmates. "You get married and make all these vows, but the minute you start breaking those vows, the marriage doesn't mean anything anymore."


Alfredo and Rafael Galvez grew up in Peru and relocated to Miami in 1984. The brothers opened a skateboard company while still in middle school and held jobs illegally at first, using fake names, to help their parents. A decade after arriving in Florida, Al moved to San Francisco to attend art school, where the acoustic essence of AKIAV began. When he returned a few years later, he began the Al Galvez Band, which later morphed into A Kite Is a Victim. Rafael, intrigued by the Washington, D.C., punk scene, absorbed his art education in Maryland and decided to bring some of the DIY spirit, espoused by labels like Dischord, back home to Miami.

In 1994 Al Galvez began writing the songs that would surface on Home-- AKIAV's lone album -- in 1997. Later that year Al, Rafael, and a friend, Sander Willig, rented a warehouse just off the Palmetto Expressway in Miami and started Space Cadette, dividing the space into rehearsal rooms, offices, and a studio. Intrigued by the possibilities and Al Galvez's vision, talent, and business acumen -- not to mention the dirt-cheap rate of $5 an hour to rent rehearsal space, $25 an hour to record there -- musicians flocked to the operation. Space Cadette began hosting an inexpensive multimedia event every month called the Two Dollar Project. The small space was soon filled with bands practicing day and night. With them came an inner-city, community-activist spirit bidding welcome to nonprofit environmental groups, seminars on abortion rights, music and art workshops for kids, and the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Space Cadette even hosted a women's self-defense course.

Now Space Cadette's performance space is gone, as is its art gallery, and no longer do the label's tentacles snake out into the community. Its roster has dwindled to AKIAV and Zedashe, a traditional Russian choral group. Rafael Galvez recently returned from a journey to the former Soviet republic of Georgia to record with Zedashe's members and is undertaking a similar expedition in December, when he will venture to Guatemala to document ancient Maya music. For now that's the extent of his involvement with the label.

"Space Cadette is not what it used to be," Rafael admits. "It's a ghost of what it once was."

What happened? Many of Al Galvez's former associates profess that the singer had a dark side just beneath the amiable, self-deprecating veneer. Carl Ferrari's band, Swivel Stick, recorded an album for Space Cadette, but now the guitarist has little contact with Galvez.

"I didn't want to work with him anymore for obvious reasons," he says. "He has a way of getting on people's bad side really quickly if he wants to."

"His explosive temper drove away people who were hard-working, loyal, and put their lives on hold for Space Cadette," says Ed Matus, a Miami guitarist-cum-electronic musician who creates under the name Halo Vessel. In the early 1990s, Matus and both Galvez brothers played briefly in a band called Fuselage that combined Andean tonalities with primal rock. "We rehearsed three times a week," Matus remembers, "and we never made it through once without him getting mad at me or his brother. I've worked with a lot of other people who are much more talented and know how to keep themselves together when shit goes wrong. And Al will get personal with you. He'll insult your family."

Matus was also part of a Miami-based band called Subliminal Criminal, which coupled punk fury with prog-rock complications. An untitled album from 1997 is still available on Space Cadette's Website, but neither Matus nor Al Galvez has fond memories of the project. Galvez, whose voice becomes thin and cold at the mere mention of Matus, says, "What was the name of his band? That's how uninterested I am."

Matus recalls feeling delighted when he realized the best label for Subliminal Criminal was right in his own hometown. "Space Cadette were very ambitious and artistic," he says. However, after the band was signed to the label, he charges, Galvez began to demand that the band change the way it sounded, looked, and performed. "That was the ultimate insult. I walked out of Al's office, and all hell broke loose. He stopped talking to me for months."

Predictably Galvez's recollection of Subliminal Criminal is markedly different. "They refused to go on tour because [Matus] lived with his mommy and he had to eat his food and have all his drugs handy," he snarls. "And guess what happened to his record? Nothing. They're taking up room in my closet, while A Kite Is a Victim is already on its third printing." In fact, Galvez says, he's tired of trying to find South Florida bands that might be compatible with Space Cadette's ethic. "I'm in a no-nonsense mode," he says, "and a lot of these bands, unfortunately, are nonsense."

His brother is only slightly more diplomatic. "It's hard to pin down what really happened," Rafael says. "We all have a little ingredient in ourselves that can propagate those wrong things. We got taken advantage of by so many people. It started going down the drain, and our hearts really sunk. I'm surprised I'm not as directly related to it as I was before, but I was tired of working with unmotivated, lazy musicians in South Florida who wanted everything done for them."


Throughout Al Galvez's tumultuous history as an underground impresario, his own band has remained his top priority. Back in 1995 the first version of A Kite Is a Victim was born, retiring its former name, the Al Galvez Band. "That's what he should still call it," Rajan snorts.

With the first lineup of AKIAV -- Galvez, bassist Leroy Talcott, drummer Bruce Crowder, and guitarist Scott Nixon -- "at least I had an album to show for it," Galvez says, pointing to Home. With later members Rajan and Perez, "I couldn't get them to do anything," Galvez declares.

Talcott has few positive memories of his experience with A Kite Is a Victim. "He didn't even give me a copy of the CD we recorded," Talcott says, "the one which I wrote and recorded all the bass lines and some of the acoustic-guitar parts. How do you like that?"

Talcott, who claims he was never paid a nickel for performing or recording with AKIAV, explains that his predecessors, the members of the Al Galvez Band, bailed en masse. "Of course he had nothing but bad things to say about them, and no part of the breakup was his fault. In a fit of rage I stirred in him when I called it quits, he admitted to using me. I played with him for three years, and in the beginning he was easy to get along with. I was good friends with him back when he was still humble."

The way Galvez remembers it, Talcott was fired from A Kite Is a Victim. "Leroy was another rich kid who didn't want to go on tour," he says. "He didn't want to work, didn't want to do anything, so he was let go. He wasn't my friend outside of that, so I continued on my way."

Crowder left AKIAV on good terms in August 1998, moving to Connecticut to be close to his ailing father. Now he oversees Space Cadette's mail-order department, based in New Haven, and injects the label with capital -- including a recent investment of nearly $20,000, he claims.

Sounding somewhat bewildered by the bad blood that's surfaced in the wake of AKIAV's repeated restructurings, Crowder says, "Al is very determined at times. But I wouldn't consider him a difficult person to work with."

Nixon, who occasionally sat in with his acoustic guitar at AKIAV shows as recently as last winter, says only, "Al is very, very focused. He knows what he wants."

At the time of the first AKIAV breakup, the main thing Galvez wanted in a bandmate seemed to be a hired gun who would do what the hell he was told. Thus when Galvez recruited Rajan and Perez to back him, he made sure they knew just how far back they were. "I was an employee," charges Perez. "It's like you're his body, but he's the brain."

Perez didn't have a problem with the arrangement at first. "He's a good singer-songwriter," the drummer allows. "He's very meticulous. I really enjoyed playing with Al."

Although they're sometimes determined not to admit it, every former associate actually seems to have believed strongly in Galvez's art.

"I'll be damned if that music's not tight," Matus admits grudgingly. "He takes the time to make it sound right. He has a very clear vision, but that comes at the cost of other people's devotion. A lot of people will put in time because they believe in the things he believes in, but Al does not know how to say thank you."

That statement -- echoed by many of Galvez's former partners -- is often borne out by conversations with Galvez, who asserts that the members of AKIAV who couldn't hack it have themselves to blame. He does admit that Perez was entrusted with many tasks -- helping run the studio and the AKIAV Website; spending 10- or 12-hour days rehearsing and recording; toting equipment from gig to gig, setting it up, and breaking it down; and being ready to do the same thing the very next day. This past June, Perez walked out.

Galvez has a theory as to why Perez couldn't hang any longer.

"Ulysses was losing a lot of weight, passing out [in] places, and not making it to shows," Galvez says. "And that only means one thing. I feel bad for him. I'm sure he's a bit confused, but I hope he gets help, I really do."

Perez tilts his head back and laughs when he hears this -- hard enough that his dark eyes twinkle with tears. "I guess I am a drug addict, if you consider marijuana a drug," he finally says when he stops convulsing.

"Oh my God!" Rajan shouts when this rumor is revealed. "[Galvez] is spreading lies -- I really need to kick that guy's ass, now!"

When each version of AKIAV imploded, the intensity with which its members attacked one another suggested that venom had long been filling their veins. As Galvez says, bands are tenuous marriages, creative alliances that are fragile and vulnerable to the same forces that send couples to a counselor.

"In the end we were never really friends," Galvez admits, referring to Perez and Rajan. "It was my mistake for giving away something that was very special to me, when in the end it was obvious they were just into it for purely opportunistic interests."

Not surprisingly, those left behind don't agree. Talcott remembers Galvez primarily for his "classic case of egomania coupled with ignorance."

Matus refers to "paranoia, explosive temper, raging megalomania, and blatant disregard for others."

"You want to get people's opinion of me?" asks Galvez. "Don't talk to the little wannabes. Don't talk to the people who throw rocks and hide, like Henry [Rajan]. Henry never should have been in the band. He's a mediocre character, a 300-pound kid who pretends to fast and pretends to be a Buddhist. He doesn't like working, is pretty poisonous, and doesn't have responsibilities. If I didn't have any responsibilities and really wanted to be in music, I wouldn't be so hypocritical as to just sit there on my ass and not do anything."

That theme resurfaces again and again in conversations with Galvez about the people he's left behind: He had to do so, he explains, because they simply couldn't keep up.


In 1997 WAMI-TV (Channel 69) started up in South Florida with big dreams, envisioning itself as the first station on Miami Beach. Media mogul Barry Diller -- the guy who brought the world the Home Shopping Network -- approached Al and Rafael Galvez to develop a show called Space Function for WAMI using local musicians and artists.

The opportunity sounded far too good to be true -- and it was. The brothers wrote a pilot script and were given a small advance to begin constructing sets inside a Coral Gables warehouse. Eventually the concept devolved into Barcode, a sort of music-and-fashion variety program along the lines of Club MTV.

Al Galvez was able to indulge one of his greatest pleasures: thinking big and dreaming bigger. Just breathing air in Diller's office was enough to inflate him. "I'm in a room with this guy talking about a dance show," Galvez told Miami New Times at the time. "And all I'm thinking is, Wow, this dude owns half the world. And I don't."

Yet even then Space Cadette was already on its way to owning a piece of Miami. "Those guys [at Space Cadette] work their asses off when they want to," says Matus. And nowhere was that more evident than when WAMI was promising the world, though much of the work on the Barcode pilot was evidently completed by volunteers.

"Honestly and earnestly dedicated to the cause of making a fruitful environment for artists" is how painter Xavier Cortes remembers those early Space Cadette days. "They made it seem like, "We'll help you take your ideas to heaven.' But in reality they would get people involved, suck 'em dry, and turn their backs on them really harshly."

Cortes explains he and other volunteers worked around the clock to construct sets for the WAMI pilot. "We dedicated every ounce of our efforts to Barcode," he says, "and I was never compensated. One time Al got jumped on the street. A guy just came out of nowhere, saying in Spanish, "He's a thief!' I hit the guy with my bag of art supplies -- that's when Al took off running. I had to save him from getting his ass cremated just so he could rip me off. He shows no allegiance to those who help him."

Matus, who also donated time to the WAMI project, agrees. "Al was always more interested in just promoting his band. He had students here for the summer who said, "I'm not even going to go to school this semester so I can work at Space Cadette.' And they didn't get anything in return except for a "fuck you' and a kick in the ass."

"There was a lot of work nobody got paid for," Ferrari confirms, "and a lot of fights -- always something generated by Al's attitude."

As the network began to crumble and money dried up, WAMI took control of the project from the Galvezes and left them with creative consultant roles. The show went nowhere, which was probably a lucky break: It sounds so cheesy that it likely would have tainted Space Cadette forever. And as it turned out, Barcode was one of the earliest casualties in the on-air disaster that was WAMI.

For his part Galvez says he doesn't give the whole episode much thought anymore. "It's been so long; there were so many other things involved," he sighs. "I'm in a whole different time right now, and I'm done fantasizing."


Following the WAMI debacle, Galvez devoted his energy and resources to Home, over which he painstakingly labored for two years. But by the time the record was completed in 1998, Talcott had left the group, Crowder was in Connecticut, and Nixon was moving on to a full-time gig with Ed Matus' Struggle (whose membership did not include Ed Matus). Many of Galvez's other associates, including Matus, Ferrari, and Cortes, had also bailed. Recruiting Perez and Rajan, Galvez spent the next several years tirelessly promoting Home via live shows all over Florida and the East Coast.

Recently the singer-songwriter has obsessed over a new AKIAV album, but he's released precious little material since Home. "Fireflies," a track included on local Website theHoneyComb.com's recent Soaking Up the Good Florida Sunshinecompilation, finally broke the silence. Displaying the same impressionistic tristeza that won the songs on Home comparisons to Nick Drake, "Fireflies" weaves a sinuous mood reminiscent of waking dreams. Galvez's half-whispered vocals, coated in reverb, twist and wind and fold back onto one another, as he asks over and over, "Are you keeping me tonight/Where lost fireflies/Hide from dawn's cruel hunting light?"

But even A Kite Is a Victim's new beginning is mired in dispute. Galvez vehemently insists "Fireflies" was recorded with guitarist Torey Freeman, bassist Brett Fisher, and drummer Jason Haft -- the lineup that replaced Rajan and Perez.

"Silly liar," Perez sneers. "I recorded, played on, programmed, edited, and mastered "Fireflies.' At least the version coming out on that compilation. This is the kind of thing I was suspicious of and Henry gets angry about."

Rajan concurs. "That is definitely Ulysses and I," he says. "The new guys weren't even around when that was recorded. Al is lying through his teeth."

Galvez exhibits a rather short fuse when questioned about that accusation, repeatedly insisting that the new, not old, band plays on "Fireflies." He also broadsides his old bandmates: "That's nice," he says contemptuously. "They're more than welcome to continue to act as nasty as they have. It's just ridiculous to get down to that level. Those guys wish in their wildest dreams they could play the way the new guys play."

However Perez, who sent New Times an MP3 file of "Fireflies" without guitar and vocals, notes that it's exactly the same length -- 4 minutes and 25 seconds -- as the version on Soaking Up the Good Florida Sunshine. The bass and drums sound virtually the same on both. Steve Rullman of theHoneyComb says the band gave him the copy of the song that appears on Soaking about six months before the compilation surfaced in August -- apparently before the new band members had been installed.

By August the refurbished A Kite Is a Victim had begun playing live, introducing a band and playlist that were almost polar opposites of the previous ones. Whereas as recently as 18 months ago the group typically performed seated, the revamped quartet stands, animated and active at a recent Friday-night show at the Boca Pub. In contrast to Perez's satiny brush strokes, new drummer Haft smacks the skins hard enough to send his long hair flying. Lanky lead guitarist Freeman adds buzzing, dangerous leads to the now-harder-edged material, letting his whammy bar do the talking. The set is drastically different, with new songs toughened and tightened by weeks of rigorous rehearsals. Only one -- "Brand New Old Cars" -- is held over from the old days. "Fireflies" is ripped and muscular. Galvez isn't hidden behind an acoustic guitar anymore; he's upright, singing into the mic. With his trim physique and sharp, defined features, he looks creatively charismatic and charmingly mysterious, like a Peruvian Jeff Buckley.

Bassist Fisher reports that the band has been locked down in practice sessions for weeks. Unfamiliar with Galvez or the band, Fisher auditioned after Rajan's departure and was hired. "It seemed like a better gig," he says, having recently left a little-known outfit called 100 Fires.

Freeman, who relocated to South Florida from Ohio less than a year ago, saw the former AKIAV lineup perform at Miami's Piccadilly Garden early this summer. He approached Galvez, the two started working together, and Freeman is now Galvez's songwriting partner and housemate, having moved into the home the musical entrepreneur shares with his parents and the once-sprawling Space Cadette empire. Already in place when Perez left the group, Freeman has some insight into the transition.

"How does this go?" he hesitates, as if summoning up the details. "It seemed like [Ulysses] didn't have the enthusiasm Al and I had, like he was somewhere else."

What do the new members think of the revolving-door history of AKIAV? Is Galvez, in fact, a domineering man and difficult to work for?

"No," answers Freeman. "At times he's a hard guy, but anyone who wants anything accomplished is hard-working. Once you allow an element of complacency to enter your life, you're not going to get anything done."

Galvez pauses after the show to kiss a comely fan and confer with his huddled teammates. He's happy, courting an industry rep who, he says, came to see the band, and he's proud of the work the new guys have contributed.

"They're machines," he boasts. "They're meeting my energy level. I want people who are hungry for this. I want the type of people who aren't into drugs or bohemian, idealist illusions. I enjoy inviting people to dream with me, and I look for people who have just moved to town, who aren't jaded, who don't have many roots here so they can dive in and make it a priority."

Perez notes a disturbing correlation here. "Part of the reason Al found me [to be] an attractive candidate was that I was new here and didn't know much," he reports. "It's the old concept of marry 'em young so they don't get spoiled. None of those new guys know what they're in for."

Is Galvez a shadowy puppet master who looks for expendable bodies?

"You have to wake up every day and do this like it's your job," the bandleader says forcefully. "Unless you want to end up like Ulysses, going into your forties and having nothing to show for what you supposedly love. It's not because he isn't talented; it's because he doesn't have self-discipline. It's not about smoking pot and turning off the lights and playing with lasers on the ceiling, which is what Ulysses has been doing for the last 15 years with this Out of the Anonymous thing. Neither he nor Henry were living up to their potential. I hope they can appreciate the experience someday, because this was truly a gift from me to them. I hope they look back someday and say, "We were so dumb.'"

Rajan doesn't expect this illumination to arrive anytime in the near future. "I don't really care to ever see Al again," he spits. "The guy's a scumbag. He's not a musician -- he should be an executive somewhere. He belongs behind a desk, not a guitar."

To an extent Galvez would agree. For the past three years, he's worked for the Fort Lauderdale-based Winter Music Conference, a massive, international powwow for electronic and dance music that holds festivals and seminars once a year in Miami Beach. He began as a volunteer but was promoted to head of events and promotion last year. "I worked -- hard," Galvez explains. "I jumped from answering phones and running errands, and I never said, "That's not in my job description.'"

With his own company, however, Galvez's ambitions narrowed in scope as AKIAV became his primary focus. It is still ostensibly a record label, though its catalog is small and obscure. Rather than surrounding himself with volunteers, employees, or associates who may cause friction, he plans to run the business by himself.

"It's been a lot less problematic that way," Galvez explains. "I can't honestly say I want to put my effort into putting out somebody else's records. I've got to take care of what I'm working on first, and then maybe in the future I can help people who deserve it."

Bursts of ambition seem to strike Galvez hourly, and when he's motivated he believes he can do anything. Last October Space Cadette brought indie-rock luminaries Low and Ida to Underground Coffeeworks in West Palm Beach, and a month later he paid for Mark Kozelek of the Red House Painters to play a rare solo show at the venue. AKIAV opened for both shows. When Galvez is in the company of an inspiration and influence like Kozelek or Low's Al Sparhawk, he adopts the respectful air of a young apprentice. But when he feels that he has something to teach, it's a different story entirely.

"When I started Space Cadette, I had a lot of associates," he says. "We didn't always think the same. But I've always thought it's an honor to be working under a strong boss."

He will acknowledge -- reluctantly -- that some of those former associates feel betrayed. "I really don't care," he says angrily. "I'm nobody's dad. I know what my ethical standards are, and I go to sleep at night very soundly. And if I've ever burned a bridge, it's because I absolutely had to. I have never done anything I am not absolutely proud of."

Pride flits around the room following the Boca Pub performance.

"This is just the beginning," Galvez says breathlessly. "This is the first time I've really been able to take off." Referring to AKIAV's transition from barstool-perchers to full-fledged rock band, he announces, "First I was sitting down; now I'm standing. The next thing you know, I'm going to be running and then flying. Watch -- I'm not kidding."

Show Pages
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
 
Loading...