Singer and multi-instrumentalist Gabe Fulvimar has been hovering around the music world for over a decade, but he came into his own in 2012 with the release of his first album under the name Gap Dream — a one-man project that combines his love of ’60s psychedelic pop with his knack for vintage synthesizer sounds and home-recorded introspection. Fulvimar grew up in Akron, Ohio, then moved to Cleveland for a while. A few years ago, though, he started working with the Fullerton, California, label Burger Records; more recently, he moved out to Fullerton, and he currently lives in the label’s storeroom. Besides Gap Dream, he makes electronic-focused music under the name Warm — although Gap Dream’s second album Shine Your Light “lets the synth guy out,” as he puts it.
Douglas Wolk talked with Fulvimar about his early bands (including the Black Keys!), his affiliation with Burger, and the tinted shades he always rocks.
On the Ohio music scene Fulvimar experienced growing up:
Sometimes there’s a scene where there’s bands, and sometimes it’s just people hanging out. There’s never really a time where there are all these crazy bands around — there was, at one time in the ’70s, but as much as I wanted there to be a time like that for me, there never really was. About 10 years ago, there was a band called Party of Helicopters in Kent, Ohio, and I remember being stoked on them and the bands around them, like The Man I Fell In Love With. That was a cool scene.
On his early bands:
Akron’s a small town, so we were all playing in each other’s bands, starting around high school. Pat [Patrick Carney from the Black Keys, with whom Fulvimar played early on] was in that group of friends, and I used to get my musical input from some of those guys. They were always doing bands and stuff, and I became this rotating cast member. We were all just having a good time and hoping that one day we’d get to put a record out. Some of us got to and some of us didn’t, and still should.
On how he discovered Burger Records:
My friend Greg, who’s playing drums with us, booked bands for this place called the Happy Dog in Cleveland. It was the perfect place for him, because one of the owners gave him complete license to bring in whoever he wanted. Greg got the Burger Caravan of Stars to come to the Happy Dog in 2010. I didn’t know what that was, but he told me, “You have to come to the gig tonight.” He was really talking it up, and he doesn’t talk anything up unless it’s good. I went, and there were like four people there…but I fell in love with Burger at that point. Everything about it was appealing: the logo was sick, the packaging was sick, they were doing cassette tapes!
On how he wrote some of the songs on Shine Your Light:
The bassline of “Shine Your Love,” obviously, is the Pachelbel Canon progression. When you write songs, you step up to the plate: “I wanna try to write a song like that!” I tried to get a Wendy Carlos kind of arrangement going — even the [synth] patches. I’m proud of that song. I gave myself a two-week deadline to finish it, and I almost had to can it. As for the lyrics, I’m not gonna tell you what I’m talking about — you know what I mean? That’s up to you to figure out.
When I came up with what I thought was going to be the concept of the record, I did “Come Home,” and then I took the same chord progression and sped it up for “Shine Your Light.” That was kind of an ELO nod, like how on Eldorado, it ends with the first theme but faster. I had a goal of writing 20 songs and taking the best 10 — I didn’t quite make that. But it was fun making the album. It took me three months, and I had a good time waking up in the morning and knowing exactly what I had to do that day.
On what Gap Dream listens to on tour:
We kind of ran out of tapes that we hadn’t heard a million times. We listened to Dark Side of the Moon, and it was so sick. We listened to a lot of Burger stuff, Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, Denim’s Back in Denim…we didn’t have enough electronic music for me, that’s what I’m trying to say. I’m pretty much obsessed with this album called Primitive Neural Pathways by Steve Moore, who’s one-half of that band Zombi from New York. I love those dramatic movie soundtrack-style synth jams. Even though I own a copy of the tape, I went as far as downloading it on Bandcamp when we were on the road so I could listen to it while I took a shower.
On his trademark yellow sunglasses:
My friend Greg has always had these green sunglasses, and I loved them — when we were on tour I’d always try to get them from him so I could wear them for a little bit. There was a store in Austin where he got them, and so the first year we went to South by Southwest, I ordered a pair. My real glasses broke, and I haven’t had money to get new ones, so I just wear these. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was seven, and if I don’t have them on I touch the bridge of my nose and I get self-conscious. It’s fun, though, because I get to wear sunglasses all the time, but they’re not totally sunglasses, so it’s not like I’m going in a dark club with Joey Ramone shades on.