The Michigan Daily’s conversation with Gone Gone Beyond’s David Block was as broad and wide-ranging as Block’s musical projects. His most recent project in futurefolk, Gone Gone Beyond — with Danny Musengo on vocals, Paul Weinfield on guitar and Block on production, synth and pretty much everything else — just released its first, self-titled album. Prior to this project Block has collaborated with countless musicians as The Human Experience — not only working with artists from all different genres and from all different areas of the world, but also producing his own solo work. In a mini-documentary available on his website Block says his goal as a musician is to make electronic music more than just random bits and wobbles of sound — to incorporate acoustic and classical instruments from different time periods and regions around the world. Having played at festivals both local and international — including Electric Forest in 2014 — Block is planning on touring again soon with Gone Gone Beyond. In a phone interview with the Daily he shared his thoughts on Gone Gone Beyond, art and music in general and the human condition in an increasingly digital world.
The Michigan Daily: Gone Gone Beyond’s first album just came out. So I guess first of all you’re working with Paul Weinfield and Danny Musengo — how’d you guys meet?
David Block: Well I met Danny two years ago. Danny had worked with Paul before, and Paul just kind of fit in and now they have Gone Gone Beyond. Danny pays attention to intention, which is an integral part of how I create music.
TMD: Yeah, I was going to ask you about intention. Gone Gone Beyond seems to have a very specific sound, because it’s reminiscent of other futurefolk artists that are popular right now. What was the intention behind that? How does spontaneity and intention play into all this?
DB: My primary intention is to expand the hearts and the minds of listeners — really just to connect ourselves to our humanity through stories and through music. That’s the primary intention. It’s either a blessing or a curse — sometimes both — but I have no format with how I do anything. Apparently I have a sound — I don’t hear it, because everything I do sounds so different. I guess some people say they can hear a Human Experience track and tell it’s mine fairly quickly even if it’s some of the world music I do or more of the futurefolk. I would say that when I sit down with any group of players I just use the tools that I have. Being a collaborator, which is also one of the foundational elements of my work and one of my most powerful skills I integrate what I can do with what someone else can do. It’s a combination of my vision and Danny and Paul’s songwriting.
TMD: In reading some of the things you’ve written and listening to your music, it seems like spirituality is a driving force for you in your music. You worked with Hacking Arts at The Massachusetts Insitute of Technology, a project seeking to inspire youth to merge creativity and technology — how do you merge creative expression and even spirituality with technology?
DB: First, I think it’s interesting how we use the word ‘technology.’ Your creativity and creative expression are your human technologies, which are exceptionally powerful. You are a human interface; your consciousness is an interface for reality. So that is a technology in itself. It has exceptional functionality. It has these things called the senses, which make you believe that you are real.
TMD: Make you think you’re real.
DB: Yes, it’s a very effective interface. Every single human has one. It perceives light and sound and touch. When I was at MIT some of the people there were showing me how to do some new, augmented technology. I’m like looking around the world right now. I’m standing right in front of Radio City Music Hall. I’m looking at, you know, 500 people walking by and they’re all looking at their iPhones, which none of them had five years ago, and some of them are FaceTiming each other. That was like fuckin’ Jetson’s shit. That was on the Jetson’s like 25 years ago. And now, what’s about to happen is they’re about to launch the first consumer-level virtual reality experience. Basically, people are going to have this new technology where they’re going to be able to quite literally create worlds. It is about to change the entire way we interact with other humans and the world around us. And it will be a possible tool that will really fuck stuff up and possibly really change the way that we do our spirituality. You’ll probably have virtual gods and all sorts of crazy shit. So the game is about to change and that’s interesting.
TMD: Yeah, it’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
DB: Totally, yeah. Who knows? We’re either gonna change for the better, or we’re all gonna die. We’re at the tipping point right now. It’s serious and not serious. We’re in a very crucial time in humanity where I think we really need to be checking our intention and how we are interacting with the world, how we’re treating each other, what products we’re consuming and all of these things. It’s really important right now.
TMD: It’s absolutely crucial. Touching back on spirituality, I Google-searched Gone Gone Beyond and what showed up was the Heart Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism. Was that a part of your thought process as the three of you named this project and if so, why?
DB: Originally the name of this project was WAVS. It was about higher consciousness. Everything is just vibrating — sound waves, light waves, etc. — everything is a series of vibrations in space. But there’s another band called Wavvs and we were like, fuck it we don’t want to compete with that. But I had been working with another artist, and in this song I found the Heart Sutra, which translates to ‘gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the beyond. So be it.’ Part of what was so exciting about the name is the Heart Sutra is about the expansion of the heart, the expansion of the mind to go beyond all we can possibly comprehend. We want people to challenge reality. We want them to challenge conformity. We want them to push their boundaries and I do hope that when they Google it, they discover something like the Heart Sutra. That way, if and when we reach the mainstream, that people will be Googling this and they’ll find the Heart Sutra — and other things like it. I’m not a Buddhist but I do take a lot of the concepts there and appreciate them.
Gone Gone Beyond’s new self-titled album is available on SoundCloud for listening and on Bandcamp for downloading.