UC Berkeley student Zach Gottesman channels post-graduation anxiety into new album

Josh Barish/Courtesy

Related Posts

Girl Scout’s new album, Old, Fat, Stimulated, rebels against day job dreariness in a collision of sounds and styles somewhere between your innermost fears and wildest dreams. While making the album, UC Berkeley senior Zach Gottesman – the singular entity behind Girl Scout’s swirling sound — fixated on thoughts of life after graduation.

“The general themes of the album are about growing old and becoming apathetic about the situation one’s life is at,” Gottesman explained to The Daily Californian in an email. “Specifically, I made this album because I see myself working a 9 to 5 job soon and having much less time or energy to create music.”

Old, Fat, Stimulated displays this tension between inclination and impending obligations with a base of fast-paced drum loops, running bass lines and undulating synth sounds. Then, Gottesman layers in melted, vocodered voices of paranoia. The unearthly and unenthusiastic “I’m doing fine” in “Waiting for a Storm to Come” and “Stims and Tongues”’s repetition of the phrase “feeling quite scared” highlight an easily overlooked darkness and dread lurking behind these dance tracks.

But labeling Girl Scout’s music as “psychedelic electronic dance” — as some of the tags on his Bandcamp try to do — would vastly oversimplify the album’s depth and breadth of inspiration. “Old” and “Fat” are rooted in funk and soul, and the intro to “Stimulated” sounds like something created by the Chemical Brothers.

“An Ode to Tom ‘Tobacco’ Fec” mirrors the Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman’s solo work almost identically.

“For the majority of the time I spent writing and recording, I was listening to Tobacco’s album Ultima II massage nearly twice a day,” Gottesman confessed of the homage. “There is no denying that is where the vocoder effect came from in most of my songs.” This voice encoding technique transforms spoken word into a quivering, robotized snarl throughout the album.

While Gottesman may draw inspiration from other artists on Old, Fat, Stimulated, the effort it took to create the album was his own. Gottesman plays the guitar, bass, synth and electric piano parts and also sings. He programmed the drum sequences for the whole album except for the end of “An Ode to Tom ‘Tobacco’ Fec,” which was played by Art Nikels drummer Jake Barczak. Gottesman also recorded and mixed the album by himself.

Because the album is so well rounded, it works in multiple settings and states of mind. Old, Fat, Stimulated can take you from dancing and partying to lying on your bed, blowing smoke rings, to even powering through a paper. Gottesman joked of the album’s accessibility, “My hope is that the album sounds good to both sober people and people who might be a tad fucked up.”

Old, Fat, Stimulated can be downloaded through Girl Scout’s Bandcamp

Contact Cara Cerino at [email protected].