Stacy Peralta claims there is a sound that had such an impact on him, they would find it embedded in his system post-mortem. The skate legend and director talks to Garth Trinidad about an artist with political undercurrents and hypnotic beats, cinematic music from the ‘80s, the haunting compositions of a UK band you can feel “in the core of yourself,” and a track from his own son, pianist Austin Peralta. His latest film is Made in America, a documentary on LA gangs.
1.) The Allman Brothers Band - You Don't Love Me
2.) Massive Attack - Small Time Shot Away
3.) Fela Kuti - ITT 2
4.) Dead Can Dance - Mesmerism
5.) Austin Peralta - All the Things You Are
Garth Trinidad: Yo, this is Garth Trinidad from KCRW. We are here with director, skate, and surf legend Stacy Peralta. We are going to talk about the music that has inspired him over the years. Incredible story that you have—incredible career—so Stacy, what songs do you want to share with us today?
Stacy Peralta: I brought something from the Allman Brothers which is the first music I got into as a kid when I was about thirteen. The track is “You Don’t Love Me.” It is off of their classic live at the Fillmore East. This was the song that literally woke me up. It is the reason I play guitar. It’s blues -- the most important kind of music to me. Incredible lead guitarist Duane Allman. He is, without a doubt, my favorite guitarist of all time.
Song: “You Don’t Love Me” by the Allman Bros.
Stacy Peralta: Unbelievable rock slide player and he played a lead of a harp player, a harmonica player. He gets a sound that is so beautiful and also so wicked.
Garth Trinidad: You said you were thirteen. How did you come across the track?
Stacy Peralta: I was at a friend of mine’s house, my best friend at the time, and he put this on. I did not even know what instruments I was hearing. I didn’t even know it was guitar. I had listened to Led Zeppelin and Beatles, and everything like that before that time. But this is the thing that like, ok, I’m hearing something that I can feel in my heart. If they did an autopsy at my time ago, they’d find that sound. It is embedded in my system now.
Garth Trinidad: Allman Brothers. “You Don’t Love Me.” It’s Garth Trinidad and Stacy Peralta is the guest DJ. Massive Attack. What inspired you to bring a Massive Attack song, and what song?
Stacy Peralta: It is “Small Time Shot Army.” It was so hard to choose. Everything they do is so great. They are so creative. If you listen carefully to their music, they do so much work on their compositions. It’s so unique, and so different. It’s haunting music.
Song: “Small Time Shot Army” by Massive Attack
Stacy Peralta: They do all sorts of reverb, play things backwards, and repeat things. You know that these guys spent a lot of time layering this. They are one of those bands you can feel in the core of yourself.
Garth Trinidad: Massive Attack. Garth Trinidad here with Stacy Peralta. You mentioned Fela Kuti. I was like ‘wow, some Fela in the mix as well.’ What song?
Stacy Peralta: I brought, again this was really difficult to choose, “ITT2.”
Song: ITT 2 by Fela Kuti
Stacy Peralta: I was making one of my skateboard videos in the 80s. I had hired a guy to help me and we were in Silverlake next door to Rockaway Records, which was like the Amoeba at that time. He goes, ‘hey, I just got a phone call from a friend of mine in San Francisco and he says, if we have this Rockaway next door, we got to go find this album by this guy Fela Kuti. We’ve got to hear this guy’s music.’ So we went over there and we bought it for five bucks. The album was one song per side. It was just these beats—just repeating, repeating, repeating. Nothing changes. But it was the political aspect charged with this childlike quality.
Stacy Peralta: There is such a beautiful imperfection to his music in that it is not over produced. ‘ITT2’ the song I have chosen is a very political song, yet it feels as if it were written by children.
Stacy Peralta: He is giving you this incredible political message, but he is not jamming it down your throat. He is saying it in the most beautiful, whimsical manner, but coming in and punctuating when he needs to. His beats are absolutely hypnotic and how he goes back and forth with the backup singers behind him. It’s heavenly. It’s like angels singing. One of those guys that is so far outside the box that you listen to him and you think, ‘what is this guy channeling? Because he is not like anyone else.’
Garth Trinidad: “ITT2.” Fela Kuti and Africa 70. Stacy Peralta here with Garth Trinidad. We are talking about the music and the man’s career and how it has influenced him. You brought a song from Dead Can Dance. What song is this?
Stacy Peralta: “Mesmerism.” Real dark song. I like dark music. This particular band I was turn onto them in the eighties and I got hooked.
Song: Mesmerism by Dead Can Dance
Stacy Peralta: I don’t know how you’d even classify their music. It’s not rock. It’s not new age. It’s something totally different. And it’s beautifully composed music, lots of strings. You might say thirteenth century influence. I think that they have picked from a lot of different sources but I just find their music very cinematic. There’s a depth to it that gets better over time.
Garth Trinidad: “Mesmerism” from Dead Can Dance. Stacy Peralta is our guest DJ today. It’s Garth Trinidad. In terms of skateboarding, was there a song that really stuck out, maybe in your Z-Boy days, that everybody was all over and could not escape?
Stacy Peralta: If someone brought a boom box to a pool session. It was always Zeppelin or Hendrix. Then it later became Ted Nugent. You’d hear him constantly. Constantly. That “Cat Scratch Fever” album—constant. So, those are the three bands that really drove skateboarding at that time.
Then, of course, there was a radical shift and it all became punk. You’d go to a contest one day and It was Van Halen. The next day it was Ramones, then Buzz Cocks and all that. Every decade has its group of bands that define what skateboarding is. Then it became rap and stuff like that.
Gary Trinidad: So we got to talk about your son. He is a jazz pianist!
Stacy Peralta: I’ll just back up real quickly. He was in pre-school and the teacher was playing a Mozart CD. So, he came home and he said, ‘I have to have Mozart.’ So we got him Mozart and Beethoven and he started playing air piano. That led him to getting a little piano, and a neighborhood teacher, and it was in weeks that he learned to read music. You could always tell that he wanted to go off page and he wanted to improvise. But you can’t do that with classical music. So I went to a close friend of mine and I said, “Look, you are a jazz aficionado. Give me three albums you can recommend.” He recommended Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum and Bill Evans. I played them for Austin one day in my car. He was about nine years old at the time and he literally did a gigantic leap from classical to jazz. He got completely hooked. And he is, for the most part, self-taught. He’s had a few teachers, but it has been mostly from playing with other musicians that he’s learned his chops. He has a natural talent for improvisation. It was in him. People see him and they go, ‘How many black men were berthed in this child?’ because he just feels it.
Song: “All The Things You Are” by Austin Peralta
Gary Trinidad: You know I had the pleasure of seeing him perform. You hear a parent talk about what their child has accomplished and done and I am just waiting to get the proof in the pudding. When I was invited out and I got to see him play, I thought to myself that Stacy is not biased and he is really telling the truth about his son.
Stacy Peralta is our guest DJ today. Garth Trinidad here on KCRW. Austin Peralta, Stacy’s son, beautiful composition from an album called “Mantra.” We are looking forward to more of your work as a director. I had the pleasure of working with you on a film that hopefully will be coming out soon called “Made in America.” Thanks for spending some time with us today. We appreciate it and just keep looking forward to it.
Stacy Peralta: Thanks Garth. Really cool.
[PLAYLIST GOES HERE]