Dino Felipe, "Like a Snake Biting Its Tail," Returns to His Rock Roots with Rockettes

The illustrious, brilliant Dino Felipe is anything but musically predictable. He's also one of the most prolific artists and interesting people you'll ever encounter, if you're fortunate enough to encounter him yourself. 

Thanks to Tachyons Records, with Rockettes, the Felipe will have released over 55 albums. It's soon to be pressed on what the Miami-native calls: "DIY vinyl. The finest." He's thrilled this will be Tachyons' first release. 

"I am very happy with this one," Felipe admits of his collection of songs created over the past four years, "This is a rare thing for a defeatist like me." 

Though we'll have to wait till mid-December to pick up a copy at Radio-Active or Sweat Records, a video for the first song, "Anything You Got," written and performed with This Heart Electric's Ricardo Guerrero, will be up on the web within two weeks. We spoke with the musician about, well, everything, and as we expected, he delivered a raw, thoughtful interview. 

New Times: How'd you get hooked up with Tachyons Records?

Dino Felipe: Logan, he's a somewhat old pal of mine on and offline. He will be uploading a debut video within a couple weeks. He used to be in Telepathic Friend, and plays often at International Noise Conference. 

Who shot the video?

He is creating the video with machines he builds to mess with and manipulate VHS tapes. He is working on it. He also sells these machines, a scientist of sorts.

Do you know which VHS tapes he's going to be working with to make your video?

Nope! I like surprises, and I trust him. In that way. The album is: Dino Felipe - Rockettes, a spoof on the San Francisco Cockettes. They rule. 

Are your songs influenced by the Cockettes' songs?

Nope. I just liked the name "Rockettes" and thought of them, and said "Indeed!" I like their stuff, but no, the album is just a collection of songs from the past three to four years that I was waiting to get released on something tangible as opposed to another digital release. I am very glad this will be on vinyl.

So, I feel like, and correct me if I'm wrong, but your sound's gotten a lot more rock and roll lately. There's more instruments.

Yes, for the past six years, I have slowly gathered and was given instruments by friends who knew I can't afford them, really. And all my old guitars were damaged in the early 2000s. Yes, "rock" has been a theme for me these past five to six years. Like a snake biting its tail, I am regressing and listening to what I did 20 years ago. Sorta like the Mayan calendar, I suppose!

You're getting back to your roots.

Yeah, I guess, and also doing the same ol' random genre comparisons, but this album, as a whole, is essentially rock, the root of it, I don't wanna call it "psych rockadelic pop fusion" the root is rock.

Which is your favorite instrument to play, I know you play drums and guitar.

That's a hard question. I started drums at nine. I love beating the shit outta a drum set as opposed to someones face. Guitar and drums have their own exorcism to them. Physical: Drums. Emotional: Guitar. At least, for me. I love those two instruments. I use my synth when recording, but that is its own alien.

So you worked with Ricardo Guerrero from This Heart Electric on a track here, too, right? What's your working relationship like with him?

Yes, the first track is a song Ricardo G. and I recorded here [his home]. We sorta planned the recording date, but we had no (as usual) "oh, let's do this!" It just came outta the womb. Actually, it's the first track. I was really excited to listen to what we both do when not trying to  do anything. We just recorded, and kept adding to it until we felt it was done. Ricardo! Man, He is my mental manager, and compadre! I can go on and on... Even for my gigs, he knows me so well, (well, after touring for 1.5 months, you get to know someone). He knows all the tech stuff that I am stubborn to get to know, he finds me when I'm absent before I am supposed to play. I am very thankful for the energy he applies to everything he loves, and thankful he believes in what I and we do.

How did that Midwest/Eastern US tour go? 

Ricardo had never seen the fall, so it was so wonderful to see his eyes light up and see the fall colored leaves, et cetera. I was honored to "drag" him along with me for that one, or vice-versa, because without him, I wouldn't have been able to "go" anywhere. And we played back-up for each other. it was a very symbiotic tour.

And getting out of Miami was good?

Always, change of scenery saves me! I miss my friends that live elsewhere, so it was a quite magical tour, to be honest. Meeting kind faces, people making us breakfast and housing us. So kind. Made me remember there is kindness out there. Both of us.

Are you planning any other tours?

(Cough) well, the last tour was made possible by my friend Ember Schrag. Spur of the moment/luck thing. She offered to help arrange the whole thing. Without her, it wouldn't of happened. Ricardo and his skills also helped. I am not good at that stuff. I need a manager. But, we often think of mini-tours in the future.

What's your favorite thing about this album?

What I like most about this release, is the fact that I have luckily found good friends (Manny Gonzalez - GTR, Rick Fantasies on bass and back-up vocals, Ricrado Guererro - Drums, mental management) who were into the idea of learning my songs, and now it has materialized. It's a good change for me to play this as a "band" with friends who believe in me and what I do. I am again thankful. And the songs on the album are what we are playing as of late, so that rules. Proper timing. I also think the collection of tracks gel well with eachother as a whole. Ricardo agrees. Makes me happy. It's a steady, musical (instrument-related) "rock" encounter.

Your performance the other night (at Death to the Sun) was really awesome. I think people responded to the whole band and kind of organic nature of it.

Really? I totally forgot what the reaction was. I sorta black out as a self-defense mechanism (stage fright). Yeah, when we play the songs, it sounds very different than the home recordings. I do alot of processing, and such to the home-recorded versions, which when done live with four people cannot sound the same. Yes, it is more organic and stripped down when heard live, in a nice early '90s way,I suppose. I'm fucking old. Wah! Thanks, though.

I'm old too! But I think it's nice and your sound is always evolving in a way that is natural and jives. It's always cool.

Geez, thanks... In retrospect, when I listen to stuff from, let's say 2005 now, I notice how I started a yearning to involve instruments into this 100 percent digital phase I was going through. I wanted everything to be inside the computer, as a rule, or form of discipline. Now, I notice, I was slowly shoving vocals, and guitars and percussion into these digital recordings, and throughout the years. It is what it is now. I still process my guitar to my taste when recording at home.

Right. You're still the boss. It seems like your music is breathing with the instruments, in a way.

That is a wonderful compliment, Liz! Because, I do actually think of music as a living organism.

What role does music play in your spirituality?

I mean, not radio music, that's a whole other topic/machine music. I make music for myself. It helps me. I am not selfish. I love, love to share this with close friends. And if they like it, then it's even more of a phenomenon. Like a transmitter. If someone can feel, in an audience, or via speakers, or whatnot, what I am transmitting, then that is a whole other phenomenon which I am highly interested in. That's actually the reason music drew me to it. When I was six, I guess, I made some bad Madonna-meets-the-Shaggs songs on a tape recorder.

It's like the transmission, the connection that you love.

I think music is a form of communication like any other art form. Of course, a listener can tell when there are emotional transmissions involved/or not. But, in my albums that revolve around the instrument or vocal theme, I make my voice an instrument. I don't raise the vocals so that people can tell what I am saying. I'd prefer them to make up their own lyrics that apply to them. But in the case of this release, there will be some lyrics on the insert of the LP. I consider my lyrics rather private, like a diary, but that is not the reason I lower their volume. I just want the voice to be an instrument.

Sometimes I like the lyrics I make up better than the real ones! So I think that's generous of you!

Thank you.

What number album is this for you?

Wow, I lost track. Wiki might help. Perhaps 57 to 58? (unrepeated tracks) well, this includes my old bands and collaborations. It's not, as you know, quantity but quality, and I aint talking audio quality. Cheap software is my forte. 

I been stumped actually for a few years, as far as how much music I make. For me, that is like eating. I haven't eaten as much as I usually do in years. But I record when "able." Art, I doodle all the time, sits in my room. And it's happy there. I've been playing more than creating, but I enjoy that too, the transmission.

Check back on the Tachyons Records site to pre-purchase a copy of Rockettes and visit Radio-Active Records and Sweat Records to pick one up in person. 

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