“Words they just get in the way . . . words they drive me wild”
Our confusion begins with his name. Masquerading under the manufactured mystery of a procured pseudonym, Riverside artist Pegasissy is seemingly afloat in all that unsaid and unseen hype—whether the original plan entailed hiding a three-headed musical personality or the inevitable label his born identity would provide. Either way, words get in the way of this solo soundscape who could likely craft listen-worthy jangles from his cowboy boots (music is what you make of it, he tells us, using a John Cage metaphor—apparently, the composer heard music in the clamor of old York).
Well, like Cage, Pegasissy finds tunes and harmonies in what us common folk call life. Thus we assume the collective sounds of refrigerators humming, car blinkers clicking, lawnmowers mowing or frying pans frying are all sonic materials for Pegasissy songs. But, getting back to the heart of matters, he believes music making is akin to riding a cosmic boogie board in an ocean of possibilities (his words). So, as part of our truth-seekin,’ get-behind-the winged-horse journalistic nature, we attempted to unravel the layers of Pegasissy’s game. The following is what was said and seen (whether true or false).
Layer 1: First lies Aaron Freeman, the ordinary 24-year-old behind the stage-pseudonym. Freeman looks a lot like Jesus, attends Cal Baptist (though he’s a buck shy of those surfer-bro-Jesus-is-my-homeboy types) and says he hopes to occupy a world in which long-locks, a full man-beard, and effeminate behavior are readily acceptable. Of course he’s joking, but we gather a pegasissy is an ultra-girly Pegasus. A rare breed of ambient fan, he prefers sounds to words—letting something greater than his voice convey meaning. He also thinks his actual name is too John Smith and claims to loathe propaganda.
“People go for gimmicks, wording things differently to make them cool when it really makes no sense,” he says. “Sometimes it’s nice to shut up and let the music do the talking.”
In our pre-interview fantasy Pegasissy, an older gentleman—naturally enthralled by Greek mythology and Enya—was fixated on reproducing a sound only shroom-hallucinated in the ’60s (the full-man beard is misleading). The real thing, young yet, prefers Kraftwerk and European noir, is seriously sarcastic and merely a musical fascist—the Anton Newcombe of ambient music. We hear he’s difficult to work with, bashing other musicians and producing alone in his kitchen—should he kick someone’s head, master 30 more instruments and get lost in his own three-headed genius, the Newcombe allusion would be complete (though his sidekicks/sometimes bandmates—Kristina Collantes and Clayton McEvoy—were possibly poking-fun when dishing this dirt).
Fortunately Freeman’s scot-free, as he anticipates the 9-5 to afford musical habits, has no other habits, and would presumably self-destruct another Memorex before himself (more on this later), even if otherwise implied:
“The great thing about San Bernardino is that you can do a lot of drugs—it’s the meth capital of the world,” he says. “You don’t even have to be a rock star, just get a crack rock and smoke that shit.”
Layer 2: Next lies MySpace Pegasissy—he’s hella-unconventional (think tropicalismo and the European sea-organ), bogusly tattooed and goat-friendly. The music-player-makings are damn ethereal fragments of “Tape Rainbow,” a demo of strange ways and instrumentation (i.e. glockenspiel, your mama’s pots and pans and a “sweet-ass-$50-organ”) captured on a simple recorder. In fact, Pegasissy recorded one ditty only to stomp on its innards, smashing the tape, before re-piecing and pushing play. (Warning: his talent may spook you into submission and cause visions of unicorns dancing through mountainous thoroughfares).
“It’s good in theory, you think it’ll sound all gnarly, but it sounds like crap,” he says. “You pay $1 for a Memorex tape because it’s a piece-of-crap tape, but I’d rather find something simple and approach it in a new way.”
Layer 3: Now lies the recently recorded and quite paradoxical Pegasissy, whose latest offering Ghosts breaches the “Tape Rainbow” sound barriers, adding a voice to the noise (here we were convinced words got in his way, when, obviously, Webster’s a BFF). Ghosts still echoes fairy-tale wonder while exploring the label his pseudonym hides: Aaron Freeman, singer-songwriter. Not to worry, he’s a far cry from Lawrence Welk.
Still, our confusion doesn’t end with his name. As the many layers of Pegasissy continue to unfold, many false impressions will be drawn; it’s all part of the mystifying game. For instance, his orchestral propensities are tricky to reproduce sans studio, already presenting another layer. We hear he sits with guitars of multiple tunings, occasionally plugs in that sweet-ass organ and employs a layering-loop when onstage. That takes care of that.
But then there’s his dream of playing jazz-standards in airports.
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