What music critic prophet could have predicted that in 2012 hip, indie songwriters like Los Angeles-based Ramona Gonzalez, who records haunting, danceable pop as Nite Jewel, would be compared to acts like Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam or Sade?
But here we are, the year the Mayan calendar ends, and her excellent record One Second of Love has indeed garnered those comparisons. Not that Gonzalez set out to make a "pop record," per se.
"It's not your typical pop record," she says en route to Salt Lake City. "It's a bit off-kilter. With the initial sessions, we weren't really going in that direction, it just ended up being that way at the end. I think you can hear that process in the music. It wasn't like we brought a bunch of people in the studio to write different parts and come up with the best pop songs possible. A lot of the songs are kind of weird and organic and that reflects our intentions, which were not completely clear in the beginning."
"Pop music is not a dirty word to me at all," she continues. "I love pop music, it's that I don't necessarily think it's that obvious. Writing obvious songs is a skill in itself, and this record wasn't playing into those skills I have obviously. We pushed ourselves to do something we hadn't done before, but then there's a song like 'In the Dark,' which I wrote later in the game, and that song is really direct. I think there's an amalgam of different vibes."
And those constant '80s and '90s references to her music? She doesn't mind those one bit.
"It's easier to say '80s when you're dealing with analog synthesizer sounds, and those are featured prominently, " she explains. "But the '80s were a long decade, and there's some really good stuff coming out of that time, and ['90s R&B]. I would rather be associated with that than something that's coming on the radio now."
Nite Jewel, "In the Dark"
Nite Jewel is scheduled to perform Saturday, April 14, at the Crescent Ballroom.