Ramona Gonzalez, aka Nite Jewel, was the first artist we considered here at L.A. Weekly when putting together our Re:Play L.A. series, which consists of four local indie artists covering their favorite classic albums, for free, at the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard.
From the get-go, we've been fans of Nite Jewel's eclectic bouillabaisse of lo-fi sounds, high-concept electronics, heady experimentation and keen appreciation for the purest forms of pop and funk, which she painstakingly crafts with the help of husband Cole M. Greif-Neill — formerly of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and currently a key Beck associate.
Like Nocando and Sun Araw, Ramona did not hesitate when asked what classic album she wanted to cover: Kraftwerk's Computerworld (with bits thrown in from its German-language counterpart, Computerwelt, to boot).
We spoke with her last week to get the details, although she warned us, “I've been suffering from insomnia because Cole and I just finished our new Nite Jewel album. I feel like I had a baby.”
L.A. WEEKLY: How did you discover Kraftwerk? Are you into bicycling?
RAMONA GONZALEZ: Haha. Yes, but not seriously. I think I got into Kraftwerk through Afrika Bambaata [whose signature 1982 hit “Planet Rock” was inspired by the German group's “Trans-Europe Express” and “Numbers,” from Computerworld]. And also “Pocket Calculator” — someone put it on a mix for me in high school in Berkeley.
Who made mixes for you in high school? Was that a flirting thing?
Do people ever make mixtapes outside of a flirting context?
Well, it was a girl who made it for me. She wasn't gay at the time, but she came out later. Her name is Gabby. But in high school she dated hot dudes.
Have you ever been to Germany?
Once, for tour. I was practicing German on the plane and trains beforehand and my bandmates thought it was really lame.
Was it like Kraftwerk made you imagine it?
No, I wish it had been. I should have gone to Bavaria or something. That's real shit right there. … But back to the show: I just want people to know Kraftwerk are some funk-ass muthafuckas. Funky. [Detroit house legend] Moodyman thought Kraftwerk were funky-ass black dudes from Detroit. People don't realize — they think Kraftwerk is uptight and dorky. WRONG!
Nite Jewel performs as part of L.A. Weekly's Re:Play L.A. series, Wed., Aug. 10, 9 p.m., at the Hard Rock Café, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. Free.