Ark Patrol on creativity, calling, passion, and authenticity: Deeply connecting with a true artistic force [INTERVIEW]
Featured photo: Courtesy of Ark Patrol.
Anyone who’s into the chill, indie-pop genre is familiar with the name Ark Patrol (real name Brandon Gomez). Native to the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the newly-transplanted Los Angeles resident is known best for his “warm and harmonious beats, riddled with 8-bit snippets and lush vocal shots.” It’s new-age electronic where video game samples collide with classical influences, or what the producer calls “Soultronica,” a new style that Ark Patrol is pioneering. Ahead of his recent Sirius XM Chill guest spot, CE sat down with the young producer, who proved wise beyond his years in his demeanor and responses.
From setting goals that are achievable and more attainable, learning to let go of expectation, and not basing his artistic worth on streaming metrics, Gomez carries himself with certain humility, authenticity, passion, and reverence for his creative process that is rarely seen in many early-twenty-something artists. “My motivation has changed to not rely so much on feeling ‘good’ but rather in a passive trust of the process,” he tells CE. Gomez continues,
“2020 has been a huge year of learning and challenges for me. Very personal from start to finish. Relationships, self-care, maintaining my self-image, learning how to listen to my feelings. Understanding that all of these things tie into my creative productions and my relationships.”– Ark Patrol
After releasing his latest full-length, Geode, back in last May, Gomez took the summer to focus on himself before finishing off the year with a chill, acoustic re-release of his 2015 track, “Let Go,” with Veronika Redd. The song actually went viral last year on TikTok, making Ark Patrol somewhat of a Tiktok star during a time when the Chinese-owned platform was receiving a lot of mainstream attention with Microsoft attempting to buy the social app and Trump trying to block its use in the US altogether.
Even today, “Let Go” is still going viral on Tiktok that has been going viral for the past year. The record now has over 290k Shazams, 250k Tiktok videos, and over 30 million total streams to date. It is currently doing over 90k streams per day, was placed on the Spotify editorial list, Chill Vibes, and is not showing any sign of slowing down. But that’s all neither here nor there for Ark Patrol, who chooses not to base his worth in numbers, but in how he connects to the music: “my expectations are ridiculously low when it comes to metrics,” he says.
Gomez is more interested in making music, being more vulnerable and messy in his creative output, and having conversations with his audience, he says. “I’m assembling the final structure of these next releases right now. Without spoiling too much, I’m essentially going to put out a set of collections of songs. I wouldn’t call them albums per se – but they are captures of time.”
When we asked Ark Patrol to give advice to any young producers out there who may just be starting out, he responded gracefully while keeping it very real. Take the pludge, let go and go for it, he instructed:
“If you’re thinking about pursuing a music career, just know this: You have to love making music. You have to be able to get lost in it, every day. You have to know when to take breaks. You have to come back. You have to be willing to change. You have to be ready to get hurt, to be vulnerable. You have to be kind. If you do all these things, a music career will eventually find you.”– Ark Patrol
Ark Patrol actually just recently relocated from Seattle to Los Angeles where he is settling in and working on his next body of work projected to come out sometime next year. It’s a nice shift from the gloom of Washington, he told CE. “The days are so sunny! Consistently being able to walk outside without having to check the weather is both a luxury and a necessity here. I’m a reptile when it comes to warmth.”
Fans can expect future sounds from Ark Patrol to feature his own vocals as he further embodies his artistry in the city of dreams, which you will get a taste of in this acoustic version of “Let Go” as well. He also reveals, “I’m exchanging ideas with two artists right now who are both extremely talented and very much under the public radar. I know their futures are extremely bright – it’s just a matter of patience. I think some of our work will see daylight in the end.”
Read the full interview below for more on his upcoming collaborations, his typical day in sunny Southern California, his creative philosophy, and more.
CE: Hey Brandon! Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’ve been a huge fan of your work for years now, ever since Electric Forest 2016 when driving to Michigan. A friend put your Ghost Forest EP on during the late-night drive from Texas. We ended up listening to your early discography on repeat for nearly the entire 28-hour drive. So my questions are…
AP: Wow that’s a long drive. Honored to be a part of it, thank you.
CE: Considering your growth from 2016 to now, what are some things that have changed for you, both artistically and mentally?
AP: So much has changed. My goals have changed – they’re not as nebulous, they’re more achievable and they’re definitely more granular. My workflow has been shortened and refocused to be more about feeling and less about perfect technique. My motivation has changed to not rely so much on feeling “good” but rather in a passive trust of the process.
And my tastes have definitely migrated. My interest in pure electronic music has pretty much completely vanished – everything is a hybrid now between electronic and genre, though often with ties to some sort of digital manipulation as a form of editing and artistic signature.
CE: So you’re coming off a new album this year with Geode— how has the reception been? Did you expect to tour it before COVID changed everything? Was it a strange time to release?
AP: Geode has been received just fine I would say. Maybe I’m a bad person to ask because my expectations are ridiculously low when it comes to metrics. I get let down less that way.
CE: That’s very realistic and actually quite humble of you to say.
AP: And yeah, any plans we had to tour were completely snuffed due to the uh global pandemic. I often find myself exclaiming how fortunate I am to live in an era of digital streaming though. So Geode has gotten a good reach despite the circumstances.
CE: Man, you can say that again! How has 2020 been for you? Seems the pandemic didn’t slow you down with the album release and your TikTok success?
AP: 2020 has been a huge year of learning and challenges for me. Very personal from start to finish. Relationships, self-care, maintaining my self-image, learning how to listen to my feelings. Understanding that all of these things tie into my creative productions and my relationships. I took this year to really try to deconstruct and understand myself. And I’m many steps closer to that goal.
CE: Yea, that reminds me… I’m always saying that art is the reflection of your reality. Like a way for your subconscious to speak back to you. It’s deeply internal and vulnerable.
AP: As far as external things, Geode came together well and I’m really happy with what we put out. We did some projects for pictures that may still pan out (never know with these things). Though I did take a break from music over the summer to focus on myself, we’ve been able to finish off the year with a good release and start off 2021 with momentum.
CE: What projects do you have in the pipeline? What does 2021 look like to you?
AP: I’m assembling the final structure of these next releases right now. Without spoiling too much, I’m essentially going to put out a set of collections of songs. I wouldn’t call them albums per se – but they are captures of time. Records, but not in a traditional sense. Messy but high volume.
CE: Wow, yea it takes a true artist to be comfortable in the mess. You know the end “product” will never be “perfect” and there’s a humanity in trusting in that, to letting go of the expectation and owning your beautiful imperfections—because in the end it’s really more about the process than the destination.
AP: Underneath it all, I would say my aim is to shift into high gear in 2021 in terms of output. More music, more face-to-face time, more dialogue with the audience. Still a learning era for me but hopefully with me saying more and being less internal.
CE: Interesting, because your music has a certain degree of maturity about it that it doesn’t seem like you’re still in the learning stages, but you know what, we’re always learning, right? So what’s studio life like since moving out to Los Angeles?
AP: Very simple, very serene. No distractions. Quiet. Calm. I’m in an environment where everything I need is within walking distance, my rent is affordable and my friends are [five] minutes away. I joined a community of artists and managers who are working their buttocks off and the alone time gained from that allows me to flourish while still feeling like I’m a part of something. I love it.
CE: Tell us what you’re working on right now. Any collaborations on the horizon?
AP: I’m exchanging ideas with two artists right now who are both extremely talented and very much under the public radar. I know their futures are extremely bright – it’s just a matter of patience. I think some of our work will see daylight in the end.
CE: What kind of advice can you give aspiring artists who are thinking about pursuing a music career but are scared to take the leap of faith? Was there any standout moments that told you this was what you had to pursue? What psychological barriers, if any, did you have to overcome?
AP: If you’re thinking about pursuing a music career, just know this: You have to love making music. You have to be able to get lost in it, every day. You have to know when to take breaks. You have to come back. You have to be willing to change. You have to be ready to get hurt, to be vulnerable. You have to be kind. If you do all these things, a music career will eventually find you.
For me, I remember a standout moment in 2012 when I was walking home on the sidewalk and suddenly stopped. Something struck me as important, and I made the decision right there and then to pursue music professionally. I knew then that it was a gamble, in the sense that I could go for a very long time without finding success – but accepting that gamble has made every single trough bearable, because I know this is what I chose.
CE: Walk us through your typical day in sunny Southern California. Seems like quite the contrast to Seattle…
7a Wake up, lie in bed, listen to my body, prepare for existence
7:30a boil water for my french press, check messages
8a produce music while i drink coffee
9a go running after i’m juiced up
10a practice singing
11a resume production
Afternoon: any errands I need to run, administrative tasks, career design, crate digging or sound design, sometimes a nap
Evening: force myself to finish and publish one song to my team.
And the days have been so sunny! Consistently being able to walk outside without having to check the weather is both a luxury and necessity here. I’m a reptile when it comes to warmth.
CE: Ah yes, I do miss living in Los Angeles for that very same reason! Well, thanks mate! Really appreciate you taking the time to be so candid and real with us. I hope we’ve shown our readership a little more about the force behind the music.
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Information seeker. Dog lover. Ph.D. drop out. Avid collector of pashminas, plants, and experiences. College professor by day, EDM photographer by night.