Interview: Gryphon Rue of El Tryptophan

el tryptophan3

El Trytophan

“Insect Express”

Guilt Vacation

First, El Tryptophan is one of those super special bands that really get to you in a good way.  Amazingly beautiful.  El Tryptophan is made up of Gryphon Rue – voice, guitar, electronics; Odetta Hartman – violin; and Jacob Cavell – drums.  Recently, AudioFuzz sat down and talked with Gryphon Rue for over an hour.  I have to admit, this was one of the most memorable interviews I have ever had:

Audiofuzz:  Thank you Gryphon for sitting down with me.  Let me ask you some questions.  Who do you believe are your main influences?

Gryphon:  Laurie Anderson especially but also Edgard Varese, Neil Young, Brian Eno, Vic Chestnut, and of course, the late David Bowie, particularly “Low.”

A:  Why the name El Tryptophan?

G: I was driving from California to New York City via Interstate 80 through Nevada, I just started mumbling to myself, and El Tryptophan came out. The name was silly, and I started cracking up.  Also it’s abstract, rather like Pavement is named after something you see everyday, and it sounds so heavy–maybe they liked the meaninglessness of the name. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that the element in turkey is called “L-Tryptophan”  I thought the El made the name seem Spanish.

A:  During the recording of your album, what gave you inspiration?

G: Well, during the last month, I was listening a lot to Brian Eno, especially “Another Green World” and “Here Comes The Warm Jets”. 

A: What do you enjoy most:  touring, live performances, or studio work?

G:  My first tour I was 18 traveling around Vietnam with Peter Yarrow from Peter, Paul, and Mary, playing in his group to raise awareness for victims of AGENT ORANGE. Another memorable tour was a summer southern tour with Odetta Hartman, from NYC to California, playing in all sorts of places, from dive bars to opera houses.  Those were great experiences, the feeling of the audience reacting in a kind of feedback circuit to what’s happening, in all different, often difficult live settings.  But I also love studio work.  I produce El Tryptophan’s work and other experimental sound projects and have begun to produce other songwriters. I’ve been collaborating with Joakim and High Water. There are times when I spend months in the studio, practically alone everyday, just creating.

A:  Describe yourself.

G:  I’ve always felt like an outsider.  I remember at boarding school listening to Liz Phair’s “Exile In Guyville” in a daze of nostalgia, along with Neil Young’s “On the Beach” and Jonathan Richman’s “Rockin’ Romance.” I suggest people listen to the beautiful music of Arthur Russell, who passed away from complications due to AIDS way too young.  

A:  What sort of animal would you like to be?

G:  A Wildebeest.

We talked about a lot of things.  Gryphon is one of the most accessible musicians I have ever had the pleasure of talking with.  With his talent and good looks, there is no doubt that El Tryptophan will go a long way.

El Tryptophan – Insect Express from El Tryptophan on Vimeo.

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