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Ron Gallo on “Stardust Birthday Party” and the exploration of self

Photos by Julia Khoroshilov. Find more of her work here

Directing your attention and accountability inward can be daunting – so daunting, in fact, to the point where it seldom crosses the mind. After all, stripping back the layers of how you impact your own positionality in the world isn’t easy to mentally confront, let alone craft an entire album about.  Yet, Ron Gallo’s latest album, Stardust Birthday Party, places these difficult grapplings at its forefront and packages them in the form of high-energy tracks with intuitive lyrics. The album taps into the epicenter of human nature by delving into a exploration of introspection; thoughtfully meditating on the notion of self while highlighting the fear and freedom that can subsequently result.

The title Stardust Birthday Party is just as intriguing as the tracks that comprise it. What does it mean or represent to you?

Deconstructing yourself enough to see maybe you/the world isn’t what you thought it was your whole life and maybe you are the same thing as everyone and everything else and that’s a kind of death worth celebrating.  This record felt like the right thing to put out right now because it’s about self-empowerment without needing to change anything outside of yourself which seems like everyones goals now and forever – change everything else but yourself.

The cardboard box labeled “self” is seen constantly throughout the “Always Elsewhere” music video, yet viewers never find out what is inside by its conclusion. Was this meant to connect to the album’s overarching theme of self introspection? 

Yeah, the box represents the false idea of self (ego) we all carry around and protect all the time.Most of us don’t even know it’s there and we end up interacting with the idea we have about people and the world rather than what’s really there. The video for “Do You Love Your Company?” Begins where “Always Elsewhere” ends so you get to look inside the box which is a bunch of me’s talking to me inside of me.

It’s really interesting that the track “OM” juxtaposes the soundscape of meditation with that of a busy street. How did the pairing of these contrasting sounds come to be, and is there any link between that and the album’s overarching messages?

The OM represents the core of all existence. The one constant underneath all of the noise of the world and our own thinking.  It’s a lot like a big endless vast silence that everything occurs inside of and it’s always there in plain sight but we can’t see or hear it anymore. That’s what meditation is about, a practice to help us experience and reconnect with that thing that is always there and maybe even to find that it is also what we all are.  And it’s not some far out, crazy shit it’s actually the most simple thing in the world.

The album touches on how external impact begins internally. Do you feel it’s possible for people to achieve a positive external impact in spite of innately human barriers – such as fear, anxiety, and self-loathing – maintaining an internal presence in everyone? 

Absolutely, that’s kind of the point of the record is my personal testament to what is possible for all people despite any barriers. It’s about creating your own freedom just by destroying the billion ways we imprison ourselves everyday. A big part of it is taking full responsibility for how you feel at all times, then suddenly no one else is to blame and you have no choice but to turn inward. I used to be really consumed by fear and anger, and sometime I still am and every time it makes the whole world look how I’m feeling inside. How you are inside is going to reflect on the outside, it’s going to be what you attract. It’s a little different for me now as I’ve worked to change the relationship to my own mind – not believing what it was telling me all the time, stop pretending that I know how life or the world is suppose to look because I have no clue. We can only be anxious about what hasn’t happened yet, and we only have fear based on what has happened to us before. 

I used to be really consumed by fear and anger, and sometimes I still am and every time it makes the whole world look how I’m feeling inside. 

So when we realize were making ourselves miserable trying to control the world and our life based on speculation it might help us find the peace that comes just from looking at what is happening right here right now. 99% of the time here and now is just fine, were breathing, I’m doing this interview and I could choose to focus on all the chaos in the world OR take responsibility for how I feel in every moment and make the choice to stay positive, peaceful, loving and compassionate because that is what I want to put out into the world, but were all kinda wired to do the opposite, but it can change, you just gotta die a bit a little more everyday. :). I will end this by saying I fail at all of this everyday but it opens some sort of window where you can’t act on your own shit thoughts as much and THAT’s a good thing.

With Really Nice Guys and Stardust Birthday Party being released just months apart, you’ve had a big year. Between integrating dialogue, drawing from experiences, and tapping into the epicenter of human emotion, both works seem to contain a “slice of life element” to them. How would you say realism manifests within Really Nice Guys and Stardust Birthday Party?

Really Nice Guys wrote itself really just by observing this hilarious reoccurring stuff that you encounter being a touring musician living in a music town and then highlighting/making fun of it via songs. Like the Kroger conversation – we just set up a mic and did that improv because we all had that same conversation so many times in real life, same with “I’m on the Guestlist” etc. Stardust Birthday Party is more about objective reality, the common thread in all people and things. What’s happening around and in all of us regardless of what we do, our personality, without our identities at all. So in a way yeah I’m always tryin to keep it real but the real is always changing.

On Bandcamp, your bio states that you’re trying to lean further toward the mindset that “the universe is inside you.” As of now, do you think your future work will reflect that? 

I’m always in flux when it comes to making stuff so I could be making raps about snacks next record, BUT, that being said I plan on just always being myself, whatever that is, and always want to put out constructive things that bring people together and help people strive to be better including myself.

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