TGE Recipes: Buñuelos with Lewis Gallardo of Sweet Lew and the Sweet and Lows

Welcome to TGE Recipes, a place where our favorite bands share the secrets straight from their kitchens. Think your favorite Food Network show except on a purple blog. Today we welcome Lewis Gallardo of Sweet Lew and the Sweet and Lows.

Buñuelos

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups - Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. - Baking Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. -  Salt
  • ½ Cup - Sugar
  • ½ Cup - Brown Sugar
  • ¼ Cup - Shortening
  • 2 Cups - Water
  • 1 Cup - Vegetable Oil

Directions:

Toss the flour and baking powder in a larger bowl, and start cutting in the shortening with a fork or two. In the culinary sense, I think “cutting in” means to mix shortening or butter with dry ingredients such as flour or sugar. That’s what my high school cooking teacher told me.

Once you’ve pretty much reached ~ equilibrium ~ (after cutting in the shortening for a minute or two) add some hot water to the dry ingredients. Not too much! If you added too much add some flour to the mix to dry things up. Things are about to get messy.

Use your hands to miix up all of your ingredients in your bowl to get a giant dough ball. Quarter up your dough orb and rip off pieces to ball up to about the size of a golf ball.

As you’re ripping off pieces, add warm water (about ¼ of  a cup at a time) so it can retain it’s shape and doesn’t get too dry. Once desired amount of pre-tortilla dough balls are rolled up, set a wet towel over the bowl lid to maintain a cool temperature  and set the dough balls to rest for about 10-20 minutes.

Once you’ve reached the point when you can’t wait any longer, grab a rolling pin and flatten each ball to so it winds up looking like a tortilla. Once an even circle, throw on a grill or flat heated surface stove thing to heat up. Air bubbles are ok!

We’re halfway done. If making handmade tortillas was your goal, then you’re all done. But most people signed up for a dessert, so let’s continue.

Put your vegetable oil in a pan so that it’s about an inch deep and heat it up so it’s very very very hot. This is where you bring out your oil splash guard if you have one. CAREFULLY slide the tortilla in the oil and let it “deep” fry. Flip it after about a minute. Once it’s golden brown and rigid, it’s time to toss it around in a plate with your sugars.

If your buñuelos looks similar to the one pictured, you’re probably done! Enjoy.

Interview with Lewis from Andrew Lopez

When you cook do you listen to a particular kind of music or genre?

I’ll get stuck on stuff.  I’ll find a song or an album and run it into the ground. Right now I’ve been listening to NxWorries, that Anderson.Paak & Knxwldge thing, I’ve listened to that record so many damn times.  Lots of motown, or African funk. Just stuff I could move around to while I cook.

I know you applied to be featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, how did you choose a song to record?

We’re sitting on like four songs right now and we chose that one, it’s called “Hard Knock”. It was super last minute and we recorded the day before the deadline. The video we uploaded was actually shot with a laptop and an iPhone.

“Shot on iPhone 6”?

Actually it was an iPhone 5 *laughs*. We didn’t have a PA so I couldn’t hear myself sing and we were trying to get it done by midnight because we thought the deadline was then but it was actually midnight the following day. It was super frustrating but also kind of nice getting to listen back to it. We also have another video of us out there right now where we did a benefit show for this place called the Liberation Institute in the Mission. They provide affordable mental healthcare in the Mission neighborhood for those who need it. You can go to an actual therapist and pay like $15 or $20 to have a full session with a therapist.

How’d that come together?

We linked up with a friend of ours in his band Jerry’s Timeshare who started Back Production Collective and hit us up saying that they wanted to put a benefit show on for us and when they asked me what organization we’d like to support and that’s the one that stuck out to us.

Sweet Lew and the Sweet and Lows plans on recording soon, so make sure to follow them on Facebook to stay up to date with the trio's upcoming musical endeavors.

mp3 premiere: "Ex-Best Friends" - Dollhands

"Ex-Best Friends" from Dollhands is the raucous, fuzzy garage rock that your summer absolutely needs. The single appears on the upcoming EP Scribbles, out 7/21 on Feels Alright Tapes, and showcases the band's continuing evolution from solo project to trio. This particular single is gunning and guttural, with energized guitar and drums providing an unrelenting force of noise and fun. With the vocals barely rising above it all, "Ex-Best Friends" feels angry, but carefree, the kind of whatever happens attitude that's needed throughout the hottest months of the year. Join the party and press play.

video: "Allison" - Soccer Mommy

Soccer Mommy's music has always lent itself to a feeling of peacefulness, a quiet understated nature that presents itself with brilliant, whispered force. It's the kind of confessional pop that commands your attention because you're so eager to hear the secrets. In the video for "Allison" those secrets are put to gorgeous visuals, as we follow along with Soccer Mommy's Sophie Allison on a car ride, a beach adventure and laying about in a leaf pile. All the while "Allison" plays out, a track of blazing your own path and making your own adventure that can come with the bittersweet cost of hurting the ones you hold most dear. The track comes from Collection out 8/4 on Fat Possum Records.

video: "Rita" - Madeline Kenney

Summer nights are made for contemplating; for gazing off into star-lit skies and thinking back on everything. "Rita" is the exact dose of thunderous beauty needed for your late nights of daydreaming. Madeline Kenney premiered the video over at GVB and it's the first single from the singer's upcoming release on September 1. "Rita" begins so softly and understated, but soon Kenny's vocals gather force, along with the instrumental backing, unfurling rapidly into a gorgeous whirlwind. It's a moment that's so wholely stunning you wish it could last forever.

video: "Better Find Out" - Together Pangea

One of our favorite bands ever makes their return with a video awash in 80s inspired neon hues and visuals. Its the first track from the band's next full length, Bulls and Roosters out 8/25. According to a statement shared with Stereogum, the track is about the frustration of touring and confusion when you return home, as well as discouraging people from looking to their idols. It's a mantra that rings true throughout the video with the band repeating a call to "if you wanna know you better find out for yourself." The track's short run time and constant energy matches the spirit of its subject, putting the chaos of touring, packing, leaving and returning into song form. 

mp3: "Sunday Meal" - Amy O

Our pals at GVB premiered the latest track from Amy O and her upcoming release Elastic. Unlike previous single, "Lavender Night," "Sunday Meal" is contemplative and flourishing. It begins with a tepid wade into the waters, slow and steady, Amy Oelsner's vocals leading us through an intimate reflection on returning home. And while those initial moments are slowed down and spacious, it gives us time to prepare, to soak in Oelsner's concept of home and her memories before diving headfirst into a buoyant conclusion. It leaves your head spinning, but in a dazzling good way, the rush of instrumentals, the sweet, soaring melodies, "Sunday Meal" is beautiful. You can read up on Oelsner's emotional inspiration for the track here.

mp3: "Fort Funston" - SOAR

Earlier this year, Andrew Lopez introduced us to SOAR and we're so excited the band is back, and preparing to release dark/gold with Father/Daughter Records. "Fort Funston" is the album's first peek, brimming with fuzz and energy as the band looks back on the end of a relationship, a turning point where it was decided to "just be friends," and the friendship faded out. The tempo reflects the changing dynamic, beginning fast and blown out before slowing down briefly - a reflection of collecting thoughts, and looking back. When all is completed and the melodies are still rushing about your head, your heart will feel lighter, hopeful, with SOAR providing the first step in your new direction. 

Creator Chats: James Smith (Good Good Blood) & Tica Douglas

Welcome to Creator Chats - a conversation among two groups, bands or people in the music industry. Today we welcome James Smith of Good Good Blood & Tica Douglas.

James Smith: Although I use a very basic recording set up (my latest album was recorded in my bedroom with a sole sm57 mic) I’m always really interested in hearing about how artists I admire make their sounds. Your music has a really warm and welcoming feel to it and it strikes me as being really well recorded and mixed with all the various sounds on there having their place. What is your recording set up like? Do you record at home or in the studio?

Tica Douglas: Demoing new stuff has always been my favorite part of the whole music process. I love the intimacy of demos -- small mistakes, accidental room noises, a radiator click, a general lack of cleanliness. The sincerity of my music has always wanted a roughness in recording to help it hit in the right way, at least in my mind. Since I started recording in the studio, I’ve been searching for ways to achieve this intimacy and roughness while creating recordings that are more accessible than my garageband demos. I think I got closest with this record. I recorded with my long-time collaborator Ryan Dieringer. He helped out with my last two records and is totally familiar with my neuroses around an overly polished sound.

We took our time. I know some people spend years recording an album, but the recording process is so intense and all-consuming for me, I think I’d die if I spent years on it. My past two albums Joey and Summer Valentine were each recorded in a week, in a barn, in a whirlwind. With Lady Star, we set up in several locations over the summer -- a cabin, an old church-like barn, Ryan’s apartment. This allowed us space and time to reflect on what we’d laid down, and really decide what should and shouldn’t be there.

Also, I have always left instrumental layering up to my recording band to fill in on the spot. With this record, the songs included intricate layers of my own electric guitar playing. I was able to communicate my emotions on levels I hadn’t before, through instrumental lines.

Before each recording, Gracie and I had long discussions (Gracie’s my partner but also my co-producer and she’s just really smart when it comes to music in general and mine specifically). She helped me clarify some goals for this recording. Record as much as possible live. Don’t fix every imperfection in performance, because certain imperfections can be the hook. Chill the fuck out and don’t guard some perceived precious-ness to the detriment of what the process can yield.

Tica Douglas: When and why did you start to write songs? Was it for fun? Out of necessity? And how, if at all, has your reason for writing changed or shifted since you started?

James Smith: I started to write songs when I was around 15 years old, I think. I’d just got my first guitar and taught myself the basic chords and so I’d start messing around and coming up with ideas. I had a friend who’d started playing guitar a lot earlier than me and he was pretty great and so we used to jam at his house and come up with ideas for songs. I know for a fact they were terrible but we loved it. It was like a drug, And I think my reasons for writing music haven’t changed a great deal since then. Being creative has always been a necessity for me, I guess. Even on the days when I pick up the guitar and nothings happening, when I don’t like the music I’m making, when I feel like it’s killing me, I still do it and that tells me everything I need to know about myself and my need to create. 

James Smith: After listening to your album quite a bit over the last few weeks I find your singing style really interesting. It's beautiful but also very distinctive. I wondered, did it take you a while to "find" your vocal style or does it just come very naturally for you? 

Tica Douglas: I think my voice is constantly changing, influenced by new people, new styles, and mostly by new melodies which force it into new spaces. When I first started playing / writing, I would sing way below my register to sound more masculine, but that was quite limiting melodically. So as I began to expand as a songwriter, my voice came along, and I’d push it into new places. Stretch it. See what it could do. I like the tonal weakness which results from singing in spots or ways that my voice was maybe never meant to. I remember certain songs and how they changed my voice --  I first went full falsetto when I learned Two-Headed Boy for example. Once my voice finds new space, it’s never quite the same.

Tica Douglas: Okay, now for my next question: I’ve been listening to Songs From Where I Live, and I’m entranced by the arrangements, which are beautiful. They strike this really nice balance between layered and intimate, and I think it’s because the layers are so interesting and engaging, with different elements coming in which keep me hooked but never overpower the song’s essential self (or something).  So, I’m just wondering a bit about your process -- do you typically arrange as you record? Do you have the songs all written before you record, with a sort of map in your mind as to where they will go? How much of the writing / arranging takes place through the process of recording itself?

James Smith: My actual time to write and record music is very limited these days which means I don't get hours and hours to mess around and embellish the songs before actually recording them. How it works generally is that I'll be noodling around and will land on a fragment or sketch of a song and record it on my phone for later. This might just be as simple as a collection of notes or a short chord structure. Sometimes, if I've been really lucky it will be a near full song. Then, when I'm in a recording mode I'll start by putting down the sketch and then adding layers on to it. Just trying things out over the top, be that more instruments or melodies or whatever I feel is needed. To me, working this way means that there is no real pre-conceived ideas of how the song should sound as it's shaped by how I'm feeling right at that moment of recording it. Or to look at it another way, the song is allowed to go wherever it wants to go which I think is a really cool organic thing. 

James Smith: You played a few shows around the release of your album and I was wondering how they went and whether you enjoy playing live? And if so, if you have any plans play more or to tour?

Tica Douglas: I love playing live. I think my favorite part of a live show is just how different it is every time. Sometimes of course that means I like it more than other times. Sometimes I’m feeling especially present with an audience, or there’s something especially special about the way that we’re connecting, or a song is hitting. And then sometimes something might be off. Sort of the same as anything. But I do try while I’m singing and performing to remember that I’ve never played this song in this way and this place for these people ever before and I never will again, and that tends to help me keep it alive and engaging for me and hopefully for the audience. And yeah I’m currently in the process of booking a bunch of dates for the fall around the U.S. and possibly in your neck of the woods too -- maybe can play a show together!

Tica Douglas: My next question for you, James, is that I saw that you recently recorded a cover of Mt Eerie’s “I Say No.” I really liked this cover (and so cool that Phil Elverum heard and liked it!). So I was wondering about your influences -- do you find that you have a constant and consistent set of artists whose work inspires you -- like Mt. Eerie? Or do your influences shift as new music emerges around you, etc. Or both?

James Smith: Thank you for your kind words about my cover of Mt Eerie too (it's here if you haven’t listened yet https://soundcloud.com/fox-food-records/good-good-blood-i-say-no-mount-eerie-cover). I’ve never been that keen on doing cover versions of songs but Mount Eerie and that song in particular really helped me through some dark times when I was making my record and I wanted to pay homage to it. I sent it to Phil Elverum never ever expecting a response but he emailed back and was really nice and said he liked it and so the universe made the decision for me to put it out! It feels good to do so too, like I’m exorcising some ghosts or something. As for other artists that inspire me, well there’s the usual suspects like Bon Iver and Alex G who I listen to quite regularly and inspire me to make music which I guess kind of is pretty obvious from the way my it sounds.. Let me see what I’ve been listening to lately… ok Mutual Benefit and Julie Byrne have been on steady rotation and I feel like they are feeding something inside me that needs to come out soon.. also been digging Half Waif’s stuff too, really cool.

James Smith: What about you Tica? Are there certain artists that inspire your sound? What have you been listening to lately?

Tica Douglas: It’s funny, I think that one reason I asked you this question is because I always struggle with it when asked. Thinking about it recently, I realized that in general I find myself influenced by individual songs more than by artists one the whole, with some notable exceptions of course. It’s always sort of been that way -- I’ll hear a song and something about it will literally move something inside of me and I’ll become obsessed. And then I listen to that song hundreds of time on repeat over the next days, weeks, however long it lasts. It’s all I want to hear (just ask my partner, she’s more of an album person and is sometimes frustrated by this practice). The song could be anything and I’m still figuring out what these songs have in common that gets me. Maybe nothing. A random sampling from the past 6 months: o mio babbino caro by puccini, ashes to ashes and five years by bowie, paranoid by kanye, beyond love by beach house. I definitely do have my go to favorite artists and albums as well, but they’re about as far reaching and strange as those song selections.

Tica Douglas: I have been thinking a lot about what would be different if I had gone by a moniker instead of my name. It’s too late now and I'm mostly fine with that, but I do think U might go by something different if i could do it again -- partly because I think it’s a cool opportunity to present some feeling or image that isn’t just a name. Then again, figuring out what that moniker should be seems like a tough job. Good Good Blood is great -- it has this cool mirrored look to it, it’s unique and vivid but also simple. I was wondering how you made the decision to go by a name other than your own, and how did you arrive at good good blood?

James Smith: So the reason I went with a moniker was simply because I have literally the most boring name in the world. I cant even bare to type it out :) So the decision to use something else was easy.... I've released music under other names in the past and, when I started Fox Food Records I guess I wanted to have a re-boot of my music output. Good Good Blood popped into my head late one night when I was making the first album, just the words and then I began to attach meaning to it, to try and make sense of why it had suddenly appeared to me. I started to think about lineage and how the blood inside us comes from someone else and the whole idea of that a lot of who we are is because of the people who made us.  If it's good blood does that make us good? What does good even mean, you know? In essence, I felt like I was making music which was a culmination of everything I had made before it. Like, I wouldn't be making this music if it wasn't for the previous music I had made and so it became important and I decided to go with it... For me, the acid test for a moniker is that, after a couple of releases if you still like it and I'm pleased to say I do! It feels like it fits nicely so I guess it'll stay for the time being....