Unexpected Influences: Rapper galleryCat Talks About Loving The Cure, Taylor Swift and Folk

Welcome to a new recurring feature here on DC9 where we talk to musicians about the music no one expects them to like. We're calling it Unexpected Influences -- because, we hope, that's what it will show.

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Dallas rapper galleryCat is known for his multi-instrumental live affairs, which often end up in cheery call-and-response interaction with a boisterous crowd. That's just part of his live show's charm -- something the man born Angelo Gonzalez and his band hope to further employ with a new contest they're running, in which fans submit a video of them lip-syncing along to gallerycat's "Say Say Say" for a chance to get on stage and perform the lip-sync live at the band's next show, on December 11.

Creative stuff, for sure. So maybe it's not surprising that, for an artist whose main title is rapper, galleryCat's musical background is diverse and, at times, hilarious.

Find out his views on country music, learn some of his surprising guilty pleasures, and learn which Grammy-winning pop starlet gets him excited after the jump.

What are some unexpected influences that your listeners may be surprised to know about?
The Cure, I love The Cure. Bowie. Tom Waits, just because he's so unconventional. I have a big, big love for that, too. Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Radiohead, I guess. It's kinda the nerd in me. Another big influence on me is folk music. I know I'm not the best singer. I know I'm not the best emcee. I know I'm not the best guitarist. Some of the people I admire may not be the best at what they do -- Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Johnny Cash. Cash proved to me that passion trumps talent everyday. I draw from the passion that guys like that have. Artists like Neil Young -- they paint vivid pictures with words and do it passionately. That's the kind of stuff that makes a personal connection. Also, punk music. And old-school country music. I wish I had a way to convey that influence more in my music. My goal is to get to a point where people can say "galleryCat was an influence on me" because they felt that personal connection.

Who do you look to for inspiration when you play?
Prince is one of my biggest influences because he owns the stage. His work ethic is ridiculous. I've heard they have 12 to 16 hour practice days, six to seven days a week before they go out on tour. Also, Janelle Monae. The way that she performs live is memorable. We were at her concert recently, and we were just blown away. Every track on her new album is just so unbelievably good, on some other level shit. And to see her live backs that all up. Another guy I always liked to see perform is Sir Silky from Dallas, especially back when he was with Elm Fooy. He just has so much fun and originality.

What's are some ringtones from the galleryCat Hall of Fame?
I've got of Montreal. All-time favorite ringtones include Say Anything's "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too" because it actually had a ringtone in it. My ringtone right now is David Bowie's "Let's Dance." How could it not be? I mean if you get a phone call from people that you hang out with all the time, and it's a Friday night, what time is it? Time to dance.

The first record that you bought for yourself?
The first hip-hop albums that I ever bought myself were Cypress Hill and Onyx. I think I was 12 when I bought those records. But the first cassette that I got was from this guy named Marco and it was a New York Dolls tape. When I got it I was like, "This ain't rap!" But we skated together in Pleasant Grove and it was cool. In my neighborhood in Pleasant Grove, if you listened to anything other than rap, you're considered a coconut. So it was kinda rough for me. And, in listening to the New York Dolls, the whole punk culture and hip-hop culture just blended over naturally for me -- I just felt that connection immediately. There was a Christian rapper in the late '80s who lived in my neighborhood named D-Boy who was from New York and lived in Dallas and was brutally murdered. He was another one of my big influences. He's actually who introduced me to real hip-hop like Eric B. and Rakim. I toured with him in 1990 when I was 10. As I got older, listening to old-school hip-hop and punk rock gave me a release.

Guilty pleasures?
Say Anything would be one of my big guilty pleasures, just because they really don't care and they know what they're doing. It makes me laugh. Also, The Darkness is another one of my guilty pleasures. Right now -- and I am by no means a fan of people exploiting their children -- but there's this kid out right now named Matty B that I think is hilarious. Somebody's writing for him and it's all a big joke but he basically samples and rewrites popular songs. It's funny 'cause he's this little rap kid: "I just wanna clear the record / People said I look like Justin Bieber so I had to get a haircut..." Ty City gets mad at me for watching it. They are exploiting that poor kid. I mean, but he's having fun, you know. Another performer I really admire -- and I'm almost embarrased to admit it, but if you watch her live show it speaks for itself -- is Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift's live show is ridiculous.

How about a mini playlist for your listeners so they can get a taste of your unexpected influences?
Daniel Johnston - The Story of an Artist
Iggy & The Stooges - Shake Appeal
Jamie T. - If You Got the Money
The Cure - The Lovecats
The Flaming Lips - It Overtakes Me/The Stars Are So Big, I Am So Small... Do I Stand A Chance?
Tom Waits - Chocolate Jesus

Download the mini playlist here.

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