Returning home to their roots under the sun, Miss Gulch brings a refreshing electronic sound to El Paso’s very own artistic community. Made up of Genevieve Baker on organ and vocals, Marco Smith on bass and Joseph Poe on drums, this trio draws inspiration from blues and jazz to French composers to create a sound that is both intriguing and haunting. Upon their return, these pioneers humbly took it upon themselves to take advantage and experiment with their influences, recognizing the valuable creative space that El Paso offers to its artists and musicians alike.
Named after “a creepy mean old lady” from the childhood classic tale The Wizard of Oz, it is no wonder that through their experimentation they created such an evocative sound, otherwise known as dream-pop. Although they are currently working on recording their first album which will be released through El Paso’s Mother of Pearl Records, you can still catch Miss Gulch playing at local venues in the Sun City. We had the opportunity to meet up with them at SXSW and discuss the origins of the band, their sound and their future.
What do you think of the current status of the El Paso Music culture?
Genevieve: I think its great, I think that El Paso is an excellent place to do something creative with music or art, and I love all the local bands and there’s a lot of people doing cool stuff. What I like about El Paso is that it feels like everybody is doing something different, people are trying to be original, and so, if you have a sound, it’s unlikely that there is going to be some other band in El Paso doing the exact same thing as you. So you kind of get to have your own space and everybody is so supportive of each other. Even if it’s not exactly your style of music, people come out to shows and talk about things. It’s a really good community for making music.
Joseph: It’s a supportive community too, in El Paso, everybody roots for ya, you know?
How would you describe Miss Gulch music to somebody that has never heard it before?
Genevieve: We call it dream-pop, with a little bit of psychedelic, little bit experimental.
Joseph: …and the instrumentation is more of something you would see in a gospel setting due to this trio right here with bass drums and organ, which, you know, it’s not uncommon, but it could be.
Genevieve: Oh, but we’re not gospel, we kind of take it in an electronic direction.
I think that El Paso is an excellent place to do something creative with music or art, and I love all the local bands and there’s a lot of people doing cool stuff.
What outside influences, musically, do you bring to the music?
Marco: That’s one of the cool things about it, is that I’ve always listened to soul and jazz and older stuff and they [Genevieve & Joseph] know a lot more about what’s current and that sort of thing, so for me that helps.
Joseph: It adds a different perspective too, kind of a great solid groove that otherwise wouldn’t be there of you were absent.
Genevieve: The major outside influences, for me, are early 90s electronic bands and then also, for some reason, the impressionist era of classical music is a big influence on me, composers like Eric Satie and Claude Debussy.
How long have you guys been playing together?
Genevieve: As Miss Gulch its been over a year in a half.
Marco: I’ve played with Joe in the past a few times with Zechs Marquise.
Joseph: I sat in on 3 tours for Marcel Rodriguez and I kind of learned a lot from that dude, in a different way of playing; he kind of plays in a completely different field for me. He incorporates this bizarre triplet field that I incorporate in this band I don’t know if he just rewired me or whatever.
We picked the name for 7 different reasons and some of them are super personal, and weird, and coincidences.
How did you pick the name?
Genevieve: It’s the name of a character in The Wizard of Oz, it’s the neighbor of Dorothy who tries to have Toto put down and then later she appears to turn into the Wicked Witch of the West. We picked the name for 7 different reasons and some of them are super personal, and weird, and coincidences. We just kept coming back to the Wizard of Oz, for some reason, as like a source for band name ideas.
Where can somebody check out your music?
Genevieve: Right now we only have 2 songs on Soundcloud under Miss Gulch, but we are very soon going to be releasing an album with Mother of Pearl. We’re going to release a vinyl record and it will be up on Soundcloud when we get it.
Where are you guys recording?
Genevieve: We’re recording sort of at home and with an engineer, we can’t tell you. We’re recoding with Chris Common in a private studio.
Text: Alex Durán & Stephanie Hinojosa | Photos: Alex Durán