Mark Matos, who you should already know from his work with Os Beaches, has transformed into Trans Van Santos for his latest LP Moon Mirage, which is available now on Royal Oakie records. Today, we’re excited to share the first video from the album, for the track “The Flight”. It’s one hell of a trippy western:
In advance of Van Santos’ upcoming album release show at Amnesia, I chatted with him about the name change, creating his own tradition, Joshua Tree, and how he hooked up with the dreamy James Franco to score an upcoming film. Definitely read it to get to know Trans Van Santos a little better before buying his album and checking out his show:
The Bay Bridged: First of all, why the name change?
Trans Van Santos: In late 2011 I embarked on a series of Vision Quests in California and Arizona. The ritual use of psychedelic mushrooms in an intentional setting was the cornerstone of these experiences. I created a personalized model that pulled from both archaic and modern traditions, I became my own tradition. During one of these mushroom ceremonies in San Francisco, I was in deep meditation and had a vision: I was surrounded by strange, alien Light Beings. They placed their hands on me and infused me with a kind of Light Energy that gave me the sensation of being, physically, very light. I began rising into the sky, still with their hands guiding me. The hands then placed me on top of what appeared to be a Mayan Pyramid, but the blocks, or bricks, were made of pure illumination. Transparent and glowing. On top of the pyramid they transmitted this message to me: “You are Trans Van Santos and we are here to help.”
TBB: What draws you to Joshua Tree? Have you recorded there before, and do you think it helped shape your sound?
TVS: JT is the other side of the Moon, man! It’s spaceship Earth, the great LA Rock & Roll getaway! JT is pure magic. I have been going there for the better part of a decade. Psychedelic ceremonies and drifting on the electric highway of the California Rock & Roll cowboy. I met my partner and drummer, Anna Jo, at a party hosted by Pearl Charles and Matt Adams at the Boulder House near Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneer Town. Matt and I talked about making a record at the Boulder House. This is a special place, sacred space. Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson tripped acid there in 1970’s. Matt & Pearl made it happen. We gathered the mystics and headed into the moonscape. We had limited gear, we had to troubleshoot, we fried the noise reduction on the tape machine, the power went out for 12 hours. It was fantastic, a spectacular experience. The first record I have made in JT and the best time I have had making a record, for sure. We surfed the wave, made a real “record” of it. The album has a sense of place, it smells like the Mojave: open, mysterious, relaxed.
TBB: What can you tell me about the concept behind the video?
TVS: Keith Dunn had the initial spark and he, Basil Galloway and myself hammered out the concept. The idea was to do a simple video that incorporated scenes from three films that have helped shape my art and philosophy. Something I loosely refer to as A New, Weird West. It’s a collage piece. The films I chose were: Once Upon a Time In The West, Paris, Texas, and Holy Mountain. Those three films really speak to me.
TBB: How’d you get hooked up with James Franco?
TVS: A friend and fan of my music, Bryan Darling, was working as the editor on a documentary that James was directing. He edited the film using my songs as the “temporary” soundtrack. James and the films producer, Iris Torres, watched the cut and dug the film with my songs and it moved forward from there. It’s called “Temp-Love”, we have a similar thing in Rock & Roll called “Rough-Love”. That’s when you fall in love with the “rough mix.” Los Angeles is a dream. James Franco is dreamy. I am the dreamer.