Garrett Galtelli's drum and bass project Z340 appeared overnight with a 10-track album uploaded online, but that doesn't mean the project was rushed. Galtelli, who plays bass in local screamo outfit Neev — and has floated in and out of other local bands — told the Flyer something has always been "lingering in my head that needed to be set free." Hiding away in his Midtown apartment for the better half of 2015 resulted in a Björk-and-Flying Lotus-influenced electronic record rooted in his childhood interests: jazz music, computer programming, and the Mega Man X (MMX) series. We sat down with Galtelli to decipher the coded song titles and Mega Man references that frame his latest contribution to the Memphis music scene.
Memphis Flyer: What sparked the idea for this project?
Garrett Galtelli: To be honest, I've had this idea since high school. It started when I first heard the background music on old MMX games. I loved the astral sound and wanted to create it and share it with others. I've always had a passion for drums and bass and house music. I love fast-paced beats, ambient melodies, and deep bass, so I figured I'd throw it all together. It's not exactly the music I enjoy but mainly the sounds in particular. I always loved material by artists like LTJ Bukem, E-Z Rollers, Makoto, Photek, Flying Lotus, Gold Panda, Telefon Tel Aviv, and especially Björk.
How long did you work on it, and why did you keep it to yourself?
I decided to keep it to myself until I was finished because my family and friends and mutual acquaintances knew me as a strings musician my entire life. I've been in several bands, but there was still something else lingering in my head that needed to be set free. Everybody knew me as a band musician. A year later, I finished the 10th track for the album and decided it was time to drop it without caring about judgment.
In what ways did your influences bleed through these songs?
There's this one song by Björk called "Crystalline." At the beginning, it's very ambient and subtle, but what really gave me chills, goose bumps, and the thrill ride I was looking for in my own music was the unexpected ending to that song where she just explodes into the most incredible D-and-B break-beat I think I've ever heard in my entire life. I think that sound has bled through into some of the tracks on the album for sure.
Some jazz influence bleeds through these songs, too. What age were you introduced to the genre, and how does it shape your music?
I first started learning jazz music and jazz theory when I was in the seventh grade. I got my first bass guitar in sixth grade, and I had a very wonderful teacher at my school who was very patient and made the learning process feel more "one-on-one." Even in a fully loaded classroom, he was able to teach us individually at times. I loved stuff like Miles Davis and of course John Coltrane, as well as Dave Brubeck and several others. I was probably almost 11 years old or 12 years old at the time it started, and I just went on from there.
Do you have any desire to add vocals to the tracks?
The 10th track is actually the only song on the album I did vocals on. They're taken from a nursery rhyme that was sung to put me to sleep when I was younger, and I never forgot it. With this project, I'm more passionate about the sound than I am the message. I would rather there not be a message and just have pure ear-pleasure. I don't feel like every song needs a message behind it. As long as your ears enjoy it, nothing else really matters. Sometimes words can be misconstrued, and I didn't want that to happen, so I thought it might be best to just keep my mouth shut and my hands open.
You also play in a band named Neev. How is writing music for this project different than your solo stuff?
It's on the complete opposite spectrum. Totally different genres. The music is different because in Neev I collaborate with four other brains instead of just one, and each of them has their own level of creativity. When you put all of that together, there's a huge sense of reward after you have a final product.
What's the story behind the song titles? For the non-coders, what do they translate to in English?
Back in the days when coding was a big part of my life, I had to communicate to other users using a different language made up of characters instead of letters. We called this language "1337" text or "l-l@x04" text or honestly whatever you want to call it. It was made up of Unicode and other symbols from your typical PC character map.
And the Mega Man references?
Basically all of the track titles are related to the Mega Man X series since that was one of my favorite games back when I was younger. The artist image I used [for the cover], however, is of another character from the series named Zero. He's my favorite and quite possibly the strongest character in the series. He will always be my favorite video game character of all time, hence why I go by the name "Z340" with this project.