Larry E. Gates II has been a staple of the C-U music scene for many, many years. He's taken on several forms throughout his career, forming Lorenzo Goetz back in the early 2000s, and once that crew disbanded several years later, continued to work on his project Curb Service. It's been a minute since Gates has released a record under the Curb Service moniker; 2013's Romeo Jive was well recieved in our ranks that year it came out. You've probably seen his name floating around as DJ LegTwo, as his work as a DJ, and audio engineer and music maker at Volition, occupy his time these days.
I recently chatted with Gates as we continue to tumble through this stay-at-home order, as his work as a producer, DJ, sound engineer, and musician have kind of all been rolled up into one through his most recent exploratory adventure: live streaming performances. Like many other musicians, since stages in front of people in a venue aren't an option these days, streaming is what we're able to do right now. Gates has been taking to Instagram to stream solo shows each week — appropriately called InstaGates since he's been utilizing that particular platform throughout quarantine — to entertain and perform. Although not totally related to the work Gates is doing, I did speak with a variety of DJs recently about their work during COVID-19, and how they are making it through, showcasing another layer to the impact this pandemic is having on musicians. While Gates isn't entirely leaning on DJing for his sessions, it's just another look into what musicians are doing to stay active while we can't gather in venues right now to see shows.
Gates answered some questions ahead of tomorrow night's installment of InstaGates, which airs at 8 p.m. on May 22nd on Curb Service's Instagram. If you've missed his sessions so far, check out his IG TV channel to catch up, one of which is embedded below.
Smile Politely: Talk about the process of starting InstaGates. What's the origin besides the obvious of this stay-at-home order?
Larry Gates: I flew home from L.A. in mid-March just as things were getting serious. We hunkered down with the rest of the country and began working from home. My initial idea was to play some old Lorenzo Goetz songs in an attempt to bring some nostalgia, comfort and entertainment to my inner circle. That's as far as I planned — just the one stream. Folks really responded to it so I kept it going. Entering week nine now.
SP: What range of music are you covering? How much covers vs. originals? Requests?
Gates: I'm trying to keep it fresh and interesting. The first two weeks were all originals (Lorenzo Goetz, Curb Service) — since then the themes have varied from open requests and artist tributes (Tom Petty and Prince) to badass female artists. Last week was a production showcase where I spun songs that I've either written or produced (or both) in my studio (the Little Red Recovery Room). People have been so supportive.
SP: Are there other avenues to stream, or just Instagram?
Gates: Just sticking with Instagram live. I started an IGTV channel so the streams are being posted there now. You won't be able to see the chat but you'll see the performance. The live stream is where it's at though — you don't wanna miss the interaction.
SP: What are your thoughts on musicians performing via streaming during the pandemic?
Gates: I love it. I've been able to watch some of my favorites perform from their homes or studios. It's intimate, it's honest, it doesn't reek of the industry. I also think it's here to stay post-pandemic. I've worked really hard at improving the sound quality and try to give viewers a decent sounding show. I don't see any reason that it has to go away once we crawl out from our homes.
SP: Elaborate a bit more on your thoughts when you say "it's here to stay post-pandemic" — how do you envision this performance model continuing?
Gates: There's been the general shift towards streaming — films, television, music services (Spotify, Pandora, etc). Live music has been slow to catch up but pandemic life has allowed that avenue to be explored. I think venues like the Rose Bowl are wise to adapt (they launched RBTV recently). It doesn't mean that folks won't eventually go out again but if you're staying in you should have options.
Look, nothing will replace "being there", feeling the energy in the room but I think artists can still provide quality performances from our homes. I've worked really hard at refining the sound quality. I'm currently sending my mic and guitar back into my control room, processing the signals (EQ, reverb, compression) and then sending that through the iRig Stream which allows me to feed a direct line into my iPhone. Viewers who listen on headphones or quality bluetooth speakers should have a pleasant listening experience. Turn it up or down as much as you want. Custom sound levels! In the end we will see what happens but InstaGates viewers have expressed the desire to continue regardless. As long as I can maintain the pace of learning 8-12 new songs every week, I'll keep 'em coming.
Photo provided by Larry Gates.
SP: What are your plans for the future weeks with themes and such?
Gates: I try to keep those a secret. The big reveal at the end of each stream (announcing the next week) is a fun moment for everyone. Rest assured that I have a running list of themes.
SP: Do you accept donations / contributions from viewers?
Gates: I haven't asked for anything in these nine weeks. I am blessed to be working from home and my studio is busy (with mixing and mastering projects) so I'm asking people to donate or tip other musicians who might not be as fortunate.
Catch Larry Gates performing tonight at 8 p.m. on Curb Services' Instagram.