Asking a musician to describe his or her sound almost exclusively gets a word salad in return, and with good reason: At a time when genre lines are as unheeded as they’ve maybe ever been, there are fewer touchstones to use as rhetorical guardrails.
Nite Jewel, the name under which Los Angeles multidisciplinary artist Ramona Gonzalez performs her solo music, has used an easy, two-word descriptor for her blend of modern R&B and electro-pop for years: “Liquid Cool.”
So now that Nite Jewel has returned for her first full-length album since 2012, there may be no better form of reintroduction than naming the record using that exact phrase.
amNewYork caught up with the woman behind Nite Jewel in advance of her arrival in New York for a show at Baby’s All Right to talk about her evolution and what it means to be “Liquid Cool.”
You’ve described your overall sound as “Liquid Cool” for years now. How did that get turned into a title for this particular set of songs?
It was sort of wanting to more or less create an album that could speak to the sonic basis of what Nite Jewel stood for from the beginning until now, blending all of the influences and blending the catalog. I spent a lot of time listening to my own catalog, and to me, this was a summation of what the Nite Jewel sound was. So that’s why I called it “Liquid Cool,” because it was the first way I described Nite Jewel. This is like me saying, “This is what ‘Liquid Cool’ really is.” Nite Jewel has always been kind of a lonely, melancholy sound of an artist contemplating the world in its own place and on its own dime. That’s kind of what I used as a framework, too — coming from an existential place.
Some albums are a snapshot in time, while others are a history of where an artist has been. It seems like “Liquid Cool” is, in a way, both.
I had written so, so many songs previous to “Liquid Cool.” I had written about three albums [worth] previous to when “Liquid Cool” came into fruition. I had done a lot of writing in the now, writing whatever struck my fancy. And this record really wanted to be a reflection upon the music that I had made up until this point. It’s a reflective set of songs, for sure.
How have you personally changed in the four years since your last album?
I think that this has been a process of me becoming comfortable in my own skin. I think that “Liquid Cool” was me being able to say, “this is me. No bells and whistles, just Nite Jewel.” It was me becoming more grounded in what it meant for me to be an artist and not be wrapped up in the music industry. I’ve come full circle, and gotten back to what it means to make art and be happy making art.