Remezcla Q&A: Eureka The Butcher
A few weeks ago, we introduced you to El Paso-based Low Ends mixer Eureka The Butcher, Marcel Rodríguez-López’s new solo project, also a member of Zechs Marquise, and keyboardist of The Mars Volta. He played a handful of shows in southern California that same week with his girlfriend, and apparently now a new member of his latest project, belly dancer Sadah Luna. I got the chance to talk to both of them about their work together, El Paso’s beat scene, and of course, how sparks few between these two lover kids.
How did you come up with the name Eureka The Butcher?
Marcel Rodríguez-López: Before I was actually making beats seriously, a friend of mine was throwing a show and asked me if I wanted to DJ. I played soul records, salsa records, that type of shit. He asked me what name I wanted and it just hit me, ‘put Eureka The Butcher on the flyer.’ I didn’t even end up DJ’ing so that name just kind of went away. Once I started getting into making more electronic music, I thought it fitting because of the Butcher part when you’re editing. It’s like you’re chopping things up and the Eureka part is when you finally nail that idea.
So you’re drumming for Zechs Marquise, playing keys for The Mars Volta and now producing your own beats. Let’s talk about what you can’t do musically.
M: [Laughs] I wish I could play guitar and bass. I can’t play any string instruments. I used to have a bass years ago and it was an awesome Fender P bass. It has this weird pick arc. I picked it up at a pawn shop for $80. I ended up giving it to a friend of mine in this band I was in right before I joined [The Mars] Volta. Our guitar player had pawned his stuff so I gave him my bass so he could pawn it and pull out his stuff, then we could practice. Once I join the Volta, I was in Australia and I saw the exact same bass going for sale for about $2500. I let my friend pawn the bass for $200 because we needed to rehearse so we could play shows.
So this new thing you’re doing is like Low End Theory-type shit?
M: It’s certainly where I draw the inspiration from because I love everything that comes out of there. It’s my take on the L.A. beat scene. I wish that I could be more a part of that type of shit because, in El Paso, I have two friends, one friend, who really makes beats, and another, Zeque, who does our artwork. My other friend Aaron is systematic, and he’s the one that drives me to make music. Zeque turns me on to a lot of that stuff and I wish that there was more of a community there the way that Low End and all those guys are pushing each other.
Marfred [Rodriguez-Lopez] definitely gets it but he doesn’t make beats. Marcos [Smith] just started getting into it. I think Matt [Wilkinson] is now getting into it so that’s cool to see. Hopefully, in a year or so, we’ll all be in a van on tour just passing shit back and forth.
THE BUTCHER PART [IS] WHEN YOU’RE EDITING…LIKE YOU’RE CHOPPING
THINGS UP, AND THE EUREKA PART IS WHEN YOU FINALLY NAIL THAT IDEA.
Low End’s a cool spot. I remember when the back patio at the venue wasn’t as nice. It looked like a large garage.
M: The first two times Zechs played there was in the back and they were the best shows we ever did. We had a crazy crowd that was super into it. I didn’t play the first time because I was out with the Volta. The second time, we soundchecked one of the songs, the people that were working there were clapping and we were like, “fuck, it’s just soundcheck!”
Why did you decide to incorporate Sadah’s dancing into your set?
M: We always wanted to do something together and she was always pushing for it. I’d been making beats for a while and I didn’t know how to do it live. I’m not really a DJ so I started looking into doing different stuff. I’m used to being in a band so, I feel like, “who wants to just watch me?” They don’t know what I’m doing up there. I could be doing the most amazing shit up there, and there’s some stuff people may understand, because I’m not just playing the music, it’s live remixing. It’s all the individual parts. You can flip the parts, add this part from this song at the beginning or at the end of the set, and you can isolate things, but even then you would never know from watching the show.
Because it’s still a guy onstage with a laptop. It’s like watching Yanni jumping around onstage with 20 keyboards.
M: Exactly. And to have a beautiful dancer up there to complement the music, you know? Eventually, it’ll be more than that. It’ll be more theatrical and visual.
Sadah Luna: We’ve been trying to do something together. We tried starting a salsa band but nothing happened with it. He was going to DJ for Zechs [and] that day, last minute, we decided to do it.
M: My first show was the Zech’s Getting Paid release show in El Paso, so we decided that I would play and, last minute, we also decided that she would dance. She was onstage dancing by herself and I was way off doing my thing. That was the only one that we did like that. Now, we’re like, “we need to be close together.” Once we did that, it’s the most funnest shit ever. It’s like playing with Zechs.
S: And to be able to dance to original beats that no one else has danced to is kind of cool.
Out here in LA, I think I call more people when I’m in town. I was at Low End recently, and I saw Will [Gaslamp Killer] and he said, “Welcome home.” It made me feel good.
HERE IN LA, I THINK I CALL MORE PEOPLE WHEN I’M IN TOWN
I WAS AT LOW END RECENTLY, AND I SAW WILL GASLAMP KILLER
AND WE SAID, “WELCOME HOME.” IT MADE ME FEEL GOOD
You’ve also done some remix work like Death Grips’ “Guillotine.”
M: They put all of the stems online and I actually did the whole record [Exmilitary]. That’s the only one that I’m leaving like that. The other ones, I ended up liking the music a lot and I’m going to use them for other things. Actually, the set tonight, maybe four or five of the songs were originally Death Grips remixes where I dropped the vocals because that was the only thing of theirs that I was using. The music was mine — with the exception of the vocals — it’s all original with live instruments as well as software synths, drum samples, and kick samples. It’s not any record samples.
So you play and record everything yourself?
M: I wouldn’t say that I play everything because I do some programming, but for me, anything goes. I’ll play something and I’ll crowd it up, resample it and, by the time I get to what the finished thing is, I don’t remember what I started with. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with live drums, which is hard to make fit in the mix with all that heavy, Low End shit.
So how’d you two meet?
M: Mutual friends. She was living in Austin and moved back to El Paso. I was having a birthday party at Zeque’s house and she came over with a couple of friends. We talked a little bit, then we saw each other again two days later at a Busdriver show. We started talking then…
S: [To Marcel] Well, apparently, you wanted me to go to your birthday party so you told Zeque to invite me.
M: Yeah, I was too shy though. And even that night, I was about to ask her for her number and then I backed out. I was like, “Uhh…someone has your number, right? I can get a hold of you.” So then I saw her at the Busdriver show and I had the courage then. I got her number and the next day I actually called her. Marfred, Marcos and all the guys were like, “So what happened with Sadah?!” I said, “We went to lunch today” and this was the very next day, and they all said, “Whaaaaaat?!”
S: I was leaving town that day and I should’ve been changing my oil or packing, but I ditched all that and went to lunch with him.
M: She went to Austin to hang out at some shows for SXSW. I left the next day on a Volta tour and we were texting everyday. I came back home and we kept hanging out and from there it became love.
SOME DAYS, I WOULD TRADE IT ALL TO BE A GREAT
SINGER. I WOULD LOVE TO MEET GREAT SINGERS THAT HAVE
THESE GREAT IDEAS AND GIVE THEM GOOD MUSIC.
Do you consider L.A. to be your second home?
M: Oh yeah! I moved out here when I first joined the Volta. I lived with Omar and Cedric and they had a garage and a studio apartment. I took the single room back there and I didn’t really have any friends, a car or anything. They ended up getting separate places with their girlfriends at the time and I was like, “Fuck, I guess I’m going back to El Paso.” I went back, and Zechs started playing a lot out here. I was in the Volta touring and playing a lot out here, and at one point, we had more good friends out here than we do back home. Back home, I’d call maybe five people including the band. Out here in LA, I think I call more people when I’m in town. I was at Low End recently, and I saw Will [Gaslamp Killer] and he said, “Welcome home.” It made me feel good.
Where do you want to go with your work as Eureka The Butcher? Do you want to produce other bands?
M: I’d be down for that. I don’t want to do that exclusively. I want to be able to make my own music and good records that people like. I’d also like to be able to produce good artists like vocalists. With the Zechs record, I think we accomplished some stuff. When we heard it, we were like, “Holy shit, our record has vocals and this shit sounds good!” Now Zechs is working on that and, when you nail a thing like that, it’s the best feeling. I wish I could sing. Some days, I would trade it all in to be a great singer. I would love to, hopefully in the near future, meet great singers that have these great ideas and give them good music.
Marfred said the same thing, that Zechs Marquise is instrumental because no one in the band really knows how to sing.
M: That’s basically why we became instrumental. We couldn’t find a singer and we couldn’t sing. Now we need more vocals. In order for us to progress in the direction that we have to go that we experimented in the last record, which came out well, I imagine our new record is going to have more of it.
Interview by Afroxander
Stream Eureka The Butcher’s “My Brother The Sun” below: