Photo: Hal Samples

Interview By: Molly Mollotova

For our first installment of “LOCAL Spotlight” interviews, staff writer Molly Mollotova had a chance to throw some questions at Angelo Gonzales, lead vocalist of galleryCat, one of Dallas’ premier hip-hop acts.

Formed back in 2008, galleryCat has released multiple tracks over the years, including most recently, its 3rd full length album, It Won’t Be Long. The group is known for its enthusiastic support of other musicians and artists, the belief in keeping its music affordable (name your price) and/or free, as well as providing fans with an unwaveringly killer live show. In 2009, the group’s energetically electric beats garnered them the number 17 spot on the Dallas Observer’s Best Songs in Dallas Music and in 2010, they scored a Dallas Observer Music Award nomination for “Best Rap/Hip Hop Act”. With the release of It Won’t Be Long, we’re guessing that it won’t be long until galleryCat becomes a nationwide, household name.

gallerycatPhoto: Bill Ellison

Q. It Won’t Be Long” is your 3rd, full-length album release. So, we gotta know….what is it that “wont be long”? 

A. We go through a lot in life – I know I have. Sometimes we feel like we fight and fight without any rest or resolution. Like, “seriously, I just want a break or a good nights sleep” .  I have to tell myself and I genuinely believe things will get better for all of us no matter where we are or what we are going through because everything is temporal and for me there is something greater with my interest at heart whether it’s God, karma or just faith in the universe as a whole, I do have my personal beliefs. I know one thing for sure, we aren’t meant to walk this world alone. We all need hope and we all have some measure of faith in something even if its nothing at all, we still truly put weight and rest a part of our being in whatever that is. For me personally “It Won’t Be Long” is that hope that just beyond my reach or just around the corner is that place where I get rest or peace or validation or acceptance or whatever the hell it is that I’m truly looking for. It’s the journey of knowing that I’m closer today than I was yesterday. 

Q. You recently relocated from Dallas to Phoenix. How has that affected galleryCat as a group? 

A. It was an unofficial move. I went to go help my older brother with a start up company and just spent some time with him and his amazing family since I spent so much time on the road. The effect it had on the band was minimal since everyone is always so busy with other projects. It is currently in a state of limbo …kind of. We started the band solely to have a good time and we’ve done just that. In light of everyone’s busy schedule (self included) it’s a bit difficult but we are all still waiting on what could possibly happen next.  

Q. What artist you would say is your favorite or most inspirational – or maybe one that you’d like to work with?

A. My list of favorite artists jump all over the place for several different reasons. From indie to hip hop to folk to blues to blah blah blah. I am easily inspired, especially if it’s something pure and sincere. I’ve always been drawn to Daniel Johnston‘s honesty and passion but that can be said for a lot of my favorites. As far as working with like right now right now I’ve had Cashmere Cat‘s EP on repeat (it’s just so sexy).

Q. I feel like every time I turn around, you’re off in some exotic, far away land. Is this in relation to your music or other projects?

A. It’s usually music based. I just got hired on as the head of international operations for a non-profit tour that takes athletes and musicians into small towns and inner cities for free community events where we also do service projects. I get to play as well, so it works for me all around. I get to travel and feed both my bleeding heart tendencies and my desire to be on stage.

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Q. “It Won’t Be Long” has a very different sound than your previous releases. Still all grassroots hip-hop, but I feel as though it is definitely deeper, more insightful and even dark, at times. Can you discuss your inspiration for these tracks?

A. Yeah, definitely. In the past few years I went through a lot with watching my parents’ house burn down, finding our brother hanging, almost a year later finding out it was an attempted murder, seeing my parents go through a very destructive divorce, then finding my uncle dead in a garage in a pool of blood, my aunt being diagnosed with cancer and trying to be there for all of them put me in a depression (which I’ve always dealt with, hence the Bipolaroid album). I started self medicating in ways I shouldn’t have, but I guess we all do. So, a lot of this album was written from the perspective of what I was going through and what I was feeling at that time and I guess what I still face today.

Q. As far as writing and creating goes, how did you and your crew put this together? Do you all have “assigned” roles in the creative process or do you all work together on the lyrics, beats, etc.?

A. I have known Rob Vargas of Healthy Habitz for years and when I got back from tour this summer I told him I was feeling really inspired and wanted to write and record an album in the three weeks before I had to leave again. He showed me what he had been working on and I immediately identified with it and started writing. It was like he already knew exactly what I was going through. And he did – considering he let me live in his studio for nearly two years during the whole mess of what I was going through. He is truly one of the most underrated producers in Dallas if not the US, especially with the limited resources he has. If it weren’t for him and his countless hours of work, there wouldn’t have been as honest of a project to pour out of me.

Q. Are you guys planning on touring any time soon? If so, when/where?

A. As of now, I tour solo, either with tracks or acoustic, depending on the setting. I won’t be on the road until the spring, but haven’t begun booking yet. There will definitely be some North America dates (most likely west coast) and then in the summer, I’m set for the UK, Japan and India with other options still being weighed.

4118351_origPhoto: Bill Ellison

Q. galleryCat has been a staple in the Dallas hip hope scene for years and have a huge fan following. What are the long-term goals for galleryCat? 

A. I think right now the goals are to keep writing, keep recording and keep playing as much as possible. I’m actually already working on a new project based on the “Back Beat Recordings” EP I released while touring Japan.

Q. What are three things you think are essential to be a successful artist?

A. I think you have to start with your definition of success and for me it has nothing to do with money or album sales.

a) For me, success is doing what you are called to (being true to yourself and knowing who you are or at least beginning the journey to find who that is). I genuinely believe what I do is a compulsion, like breathing, which is why I give it away for free or let others name their price 
b) Love without an agenda. Meaning, support others – don’t think of everyone as a stepping stone or someone that you can get something out of but seriously build relationships. If anyone comes to our show or downloads our music or invest any type of time in us, then that means the world to us and you aren’t a fan but a friend and it’s never taken for granted
c) Work hard and work diligently. In everything you do not just in the studio but on the stage as well, you should be the best at what you do and find what makes you different from the millions of others that literally do the same exact thing you do. People go to shows for the experience and hip hop shows are usually the most lack luster performances. As someone who spent years touring with punk, hardcore, and metal bands, I had to work extra hard to just keep anyone’s attention, much less compel anyone to buy just enough merch to stay on the road (ahhh those were the days).
Q. I saw that you recently sampled Natto a/k/a fermented soy beans. Outside of food, what’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had while  either on tour or at a show?
A. Oh, man. Over the years there have been tons! The most moving moment for me recently was when I spent the night at Bar El Puente in Yokohama and the barkeep, Hiro, wanted to know what kind of music I do or what I would be doing the next night. So, I played him a video from earlier in the summer at a venue in Nashville.
He barely spoke any English and I know zero Japanese, so we were communicating through a translation app. As we were watching, I heard a snort and when I looked up, his face was covered in tears and he was sobbing as he looked at me and said “I don’t know your language or understand your words, but I feel it here.”, as he pounded his fist against his heart. He continued, “This is love, this is God, this is real. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
It really showed me the power of music and reminded me of the whole “where words fail, music speaks” thing and I what I found bizarre about it is that in that instance, it wasn’t just a cliche, but rather, something very real and very humbling, to say the least.
Q. Describe “It Won’t Be Long” in one word.
A. Vulnerable.
Q. What do you hope fans take away from this album?
A. Knowing we all go through it, whatever “it” is. You are not alone and the very fact that you are still here is reason enough to have hope and enough reason to keep fighting and to help others in their fight. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.
Also, if anyone just wants someone to talk to or is going through a hard time or has any other questions – I want to make myself available. I don’t have the answers but sometimes it helps to get out what we keep bottled in or just to know there is someone the other side who is listening or gives a shit. So, shoot me an email [email protected]  – I promise to never judge and always keep it confidential.
Q. Last question – can we get an official galleryCat selfie?
A. selfie
Hop over to LOUDR to name your own price to download galleryCat’s It Won’t Be Long and Back Beat Recordings. Downloads are also available on iTunes, Google Play and AmazonMP3. galleryCat is also available to stream on Spotify, rdio, Deezer and Soundcloud. For more info on the guys, you can hit up their website, find them on Facebook and peep the video for “I Know”, the first track off of It Won’t Be Long.