Arianna Basco: Album title. How’d you come up with it?

Laena Geronimo: We were taking a break at practice and I was talking with everyone about the difficulty I was having with naming the record and asking them for ideas. I feel that this record plays out very much like a journey, so the title needed to be in keeping with that in some respect. I mentioned that “Fever Dreams” would be perfect if it hadn’t already been used for a million things… and then our bass player Lance just said “What about ‘Dream Fever?'” I assumed at the time that it was taken but it totally wasn’t. And there you have it.

AB: Going through your songs on this new album, what was your process?

LG: All of the songs on this record were written under such different circumstances and in such different ways that it’s difficult to answer this question without going through each of them one by one, or being super vague. A few of the songs on this album were written top to bottom in a single sitting, one of them took several attempts over the course of a few years, and the rest of them fall somewhere in between.

AB: When people listen to your music, how would you hope they feel?  or do you prefer them just to dance?

LG: I would hope that people feel very alive! It’s all about sinking your teeth into the experience and not being afraid to feel everything- the darks and the lights together are what make life beautiful after all! It’s about being very human and reveling in the experience. When we’re playing live yeah, dancing is how a lot of people express that- like me for instance! but some people do it different, n that’s cool too. When someone’s listening to the record at home it’s maybe less physical and more intellectual. Really it’s about reaching people on that deeper level, like in the heart and deep down in the bones, that I care about.

AB: Tell us a little bit about growing up in/with music.  I can just imagine that instead of toys you were surrounded by instruments…

LG: Yes, instruments everywhere. My dad always had his drums set up in the living room and a PA so he could play along to recordings. He collected all kinds of percussion instruments from all over the world. My mom formed a band for which she sang and co-wrote songs when I was 2 and they practiced in our living room. All of my parents’ friends were musicians and artists. Both of my parents dabbled with guitars and keyboards, flutes, toy accordians, whatever was fun and sounded good. When I was little my mom would have me sing if I was playing out of eye-sight so she knew I was ok. I don’t remember when I first picked up a guitar; I don’t really remember my first show. My dad built me a really nice miniature drum kit when I was like 3, which he actually played sometimes, but I don’t remember playing it myself all that well. I started studying violin in 5th grade and then focused mainly on that, playing in youth symphonies and taking weekly private lessons until I became a grungy punk goth teenager in higschool and my Dad bought me a beautiful acoustic followed by an electric guitar, etc. I did actually keep up the fairly intensive violin studies until I started touring too much to make up for all my missed lessons. 

I guess all of that might sound pretty cool now, but to be honest being raised by bohemian musicians didn’t really seem like a positive thing to me until I became an adult. I craved stability and normalcy as a kid; although I was always surrounded with a lot of love my parents were young and wild and my mom and I moved a lot. I was just weird and stood-out no matter how hard I tried to be invisible (and definitely not in a way where other kids thought I was cool- my clothes were weird, my lunch was weird, what I knew stuff about was weird etc.- NOTHING was “normal”) and I was just this awkward, skinny, super shy little elf looking thing. I used to eat my lunch in the girl’s bathroom and would seriously dream of one day having a house surrounded by white picket fences. I once told my mom specifically that I would NEVER date a musician- haha! I reacted by being this really serious student; studying ballet, violin, and getting straight A’s in school- basically the most structured activities available to me. I actually graduated a highschool valedictorian even though by 11th grade I was totally over the idea of trying to be normal and had immersed myself in the arts. On paper it was a very roundabout way of discovering my calling but it really wasn’t until I was like 22, when all the pressure to figure out what I was going to do w my life had dissipated and I’d been playing bass guitar and violin with bands for some years, that I understood what I actually was Already doing with my life, and had Always been doing and couldn’t imagine Not doing, and that was making music. Since forming Raw Geronimo I have just recently realized how obvious it is that I was essentially born and raised to do this.  
My violin teacher was this amazing Russian woman named Anna Libefort; she always used to tell me that being a musician- a true musician- is like having a disease. Once you have been bitten you are infected and it will kill you. So I guess at the end of the day I was doomed from the start. 😉 

AB: If you were to have children of your own, would you attempt the white picket fence with instruments as your front lawn? It sounds like, in the end, it was all worth it as you obtained a skill (many skills attributing to all the instruments you play) that many kids are not encouraged to pursue. It’s as if you weren’t just supported to do so, it was a way of life. So that being the case, do you think it possible to achieve both?

LG: It’s impossible for me to imagine being a parent at this point in my life, since I have zero solid concept of my future and I’m still pretty irresponsible. I don’t like to hypothetically consider this kind of stuff, I just do what feels right when the time comes. I don’t think there’s any kind of formula… of course it’s good to have creative tools around kids but inevitably they’re gonna get into whatever they’re gonna get into. My parents never pressured me to play music; I started studying violin because it was offered at my elementary school and I was drawn to it. The kids who’s parents forced them to take on an instrument were always filled with resentment and quit playing asap. And I mean, so many great musicians came out of totally non-musical homes and made their way into music anyways. I don’t believe that kids are born blank slates; I don’t believe that we live and die once on this planet and that’s it; so who’s to say what elicits what?

AB: And the weirdo factor… these days your ‘weirdness’ is the exact formula for ‘cool’. What advice would you give to the kids coming up who don’t feel like they ‘fit in’?

LG: Wow, I definitely don’t think I’m “cool”, but that’s cool that you think I’m cool ha. My advice would be to just try your best to have faith that things will make sense at some point. Ignore people who waste their time judging you.

AB: Do you get nervous before shows? If so, how do you cope? If not, why not? What helps you find your center?

LG: I don’t normally get nervous before Raw Geronimo shows. We practice hard so that we can just get into it live. “Center” isn’t really something I focus on before we play, I’m more focused on forgetting about Me and opening myself up to the energy of the universe, or whatever you want to call it, which I do my best to channel.

AB: And lastly: what is the importance of you putting your musical mark in the world? I mean to say, what drives you to continue making this brilliant noise?

LG: As far as I know, I’m here to make music and to make that music accessible for others to experience. Regardless of whether I’m ambitiously trying to make it available for other people to hear or not, I will always be making it in some form, and to not put the necessary work into sharing it would feel like turning my back on my purpose in the world, at least at this point in my life. Trust me, life would be much easier if I wasn’t constantly sacrificing personal comfort, financial stability, time with loved ones, etc to be able to focus entirely on music. But I don’t question any more. The more that I’ve let go and completely given myself to the current that’s carrying me to wherever it is that I’m meant to go, the more I’ve seen things serendipidously fall into place. It’s more of a spiritual path to me than anything else.  

Raw Geronimo’s new LP – DREAM FEVER – is available on limited edition 12″ clear vinyl and as a digital album.