Noah Renken-Kapatos under the moniker Great Value Jesus is hitting us with organic, homegrown vibes with the lo-fi sounds of his latest album 6am. Working around a feeling, the songs offers you a chill vibe that you can easily relax into. If you are looking to be blown away by the ultimate relaxing vibes, this is the album for you. We sat down with Noah Renken-Kapatos to talk about the album, iPhone recordings, music evolution and much more!
OSR: What is your earliest musical memory and did it shape the path you took to becoming a musician?
Renken-Kapatos: My earliest memory of being around music, in a way I could create, was at a friend’s birthday party when I was 6. He had a toy guitar and once I discovered it I wasn’t able to put it down for the rest of the night. I didn’t really socialize during the party. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but it was something I felt an instant connection to. I grew up dirt poor, so my mother and I couldn’t afford to get one for myself. I would not rekindle that connection until I was in my early teens when I went out and bought an acoustic guitar.
OSR: Is there a theme or story to your latest album 6am?
Renken-Kapatos: The story behind the album 6am was that it started out as a complete joke between my friends and I. One night my best friends and I were drunk and playing the board game Risk. The night started out light-hearted but fell into disarray and ended in a fistfight between my friends and of course I had to film it.
The next morning, I woke up with a hangover at 6 am and thought it would be funny to create some hip-hop music for the video of the fight. That was why ‘Drop Kick’ was written. Then, once I had a taste for creating hip-hop, I thought it would be fitting to continue waking up at 6 am to compose more beats.
OSR: You recorded the album with an iPhone, instruments and public use samples. How difficult was this process?
Renken-Kapatos: The recording process was smooth. Programming the drums was the first step, then building off that came naturally. The microphone on my iPhone 11 pro is immaculate and come down to the placement of the phone near my Vox AC30 for the guitar tracks and I ran my keyboard through the amp as well to record that. I arranged the entire record on Garage band and used their public samples for vocals samples, brass instruments, and beats. What was nice about that was that it also gave me ideas of what to compose for the guitar, bass and keyboard.
OSR: What was the biggest hurdle you faced when creating the album?
Renken-Kapatos: The biggest hurdle was trying to balance track length and having melodies that do not repeat so much that they get annoying. The thing about the record is that it is comprised of basically 2, 4, and 8 bar ideas that I meld together. I wanted something that slapped hard but did not go on for forever and have the listener be bored.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album?
Renken-Kapatos: The creative process was simple in having the idea to wake up at 6 am and compose the music. I think of myself as a modern-day composer in the fact that I study music composition and well perform, write, and arrange music. I wanted to go for something that would chill the listener out and make them relaxed. I also wanted some of the beats to energize the listener like the tracks ‘Serenity’, ‘Drop Kick’, and ‘Jasmine’. I threw a lot of things at the wall metaphorically to see what would stick, and of those that stuck were the 11 tracks on the record.
OSR: The album is based on music that you would want to hear, but what is the one thing you would like people to feel while listening?
Renken-Kapatos: I would like people to feel a sense of zen. I want people to be relaxed by their experience listening. I want people to groove and really internalise it, to really feel it in their soul. To be fully relaxed and chilled out by the experience is what I want people to take away from this record.
OSR: Was there one track that you found easier or harder to create than the others? If so, which one?
Renken-Kapatos: The hardest track to create was probably ‘Drop Kick’. Even after I made the meme fight video, I didn’t think it was fully complete. I spent a good week or so just pouring over what I recorded and mixed them with different samples. I wanted it to feel like a fight, but a jazzy fight in the sense that a person can bob-and-weave like the sax samples do.
OSR: How different would you say this album is from your previous album?
Renken-Kapatos: This album is a complete 180 from my last record, Bong Rips for Jesus. First and foremost, it is a completely different genre. My first record under the Great Value Jesus name was almost like folk-punk-psych-rock. I didn’t want to stick to one specific sound. I wanted to dance around traditional perceptions of being a rock guitar player to show my versatility. I also think I wanted to make 6am different just to prove to myself that I wasn’t stuck making a narrow brand of music and could be taken seriously in different genres beyond the broad sense of rock.
OSR: If listeners could remember only one thing about the album, what would you like that to be?
Renken-Kapatos: I want people to remember that the conception of the album was a joke, and that life is about trying new things and having fun with your friends.
OSR: Do you have anything else planned for the next 12 months?
Renken-Kapatos: I have several projects planned for the next 12 months. I like to think three or four albums in advance. My mind is restless and can’t settle down so creating is my only outlet for getting my frustrations, joy, sorrow and anger out.
People can expect and indie-alternative record, another lo-fi hip-hop record, a collaboration with my friend Avenade on his record coming out later next month (December 2020) and a surprise record that will keep people on their feet.