The Glitch Mob dropped the We Can Make The World Stop EP yesterday, fresh out of the Glitch Hop mainframe and into the digital servers for entertainment purposes galore. The EP is something completely different than what they've done before, taking a step in a new direction that is quite extraordinary. The EP kicks off with the track "We Can Make The World Stop," and for the first minute of it I thought it was a rock song. About 1:15 in a robot voice subtly reminds us to "Stand still… We can make the world stop" and BOOM- The Glitch Mob arrives with the expected Glitch Hop noise, fat beats and melodic genius that they've become so well known for. The EP has three tracks, each unique in their own way different from previous Glitch Mob style.
The weekend before last the guys were kind enough to let me sit down and pick their brains before their show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Here's a stream of the EP and a download of "Warrior Concerto" to check out/ listen to while reading the interview.
Before the interview started Glitch Mob's assistant manager, Ben, informed that they had just woken up, so there would be no pics. "Great," I thought- "These guys aren't going to give a fuck what I have to say," and in typical big-time interview fashion they were late. I went into the interview sure that it was going to be a disaster. I couldn't have been more wrong.
As I made my way onto their tour bus I prepared myself to find it full of drugs, booze and passed out strippers. What I found instead was three guys standing in the middle of the cleanest bus I have ever been in, waiting patiently for my arrival. We shook hands, introduced ourselves and got situated for the interview. It was clear that these guys were not your typical rock stars. I pulled out my notepad, skimmed over my notes and jumped into the discussion. Justin (Boreta) was sitting directly to my right, so I directed my first question toward him.
So let's start out by talking about EDC. Let me just say that I am super jealous of you guys- I've seen some videos and it looked ridiculous- and, I'm super jealous- especially since you guys got to perform. I mean, maybe next year I'll be up there- I'm really good at the kazoo, you know?
No, but- tell me a little bit about that- Is that the first time you guys have done a big festival like EDC?
Justin: We've played in a couple festivals before. We've played at Sasquatch before (a couple months ago), Lollapalooza and that was the second time we've done EDC. We did a couple in Europe- but EDC was one of the biggest ones for sure, production wise and everything. They don't cut corners on anything there, I mean that stage was- Wow, And we were on one of the small stages, or at least one of the smaller ones, and there had to be at least 15,000 people there- there were flame throwers and LED walls and rocket ships- It was crazy.
Did you guys get to watch any of the shows down there?
Josh (Ooah): Yeah we saw a couple- we saw Dave Guetta, Skrillex (which was awesome)- he was blowing people away. I mean, Skrillex… Man it was awesome. It was a really cool show.
One of the iconic symbols for The Glitch Mob is a device that they use called the Lemur. The Lemur is basically a multi-touch screen, mid and OSC programmable, musical controller that is about 3000x more customizable than that shitty HP laptop you bought yourself last month.
So in terms of your performances, talking about EDC, Red Rocks coming up- you guys are up there and it's unlike any other experience watching a band because you combine the electronic aspect and then you have the live instruments like guitar and drums, and you also use the Lemur- can you elaborate a little bit on that?
Ed (edIT): Yeah, the Lemur is basically a completely open format touch screen controller which we've designed the interface we play on so, essentially we designed our own instrument, and we've designed [The Lemur] in a way that lets us perform the set in the best way that we like it.
Justin: The thing about the Lemur; The reason we got it in the first place; The reason that we use it is because it allows us to have a more interactive performance and it takes down the whole smoke and mirror things about being an electronic performer because we're actually up there playing everything, but there's no obvious way to do that. You can't go to the Guitar Center and buy a thing that allows you to do that. I mean, you could buy a key-tar, but maybe we're not quite at key-tar level yet. (laughter) But as far as actually playing off of a laptop…
Yeah, I mean with the Lemur especially, i feel like people, when they see Glitch Mob live and they associate you directly with that- I mean, Daft Punk used it at their grammy show, Royksopp- big names have used it- but no one's really directly associated with it the way you guys are. Because when I think of you I think, "what is that crazy box they use from space?"
Glitch Mob: Star Trek controller.
I was beginning to feel pretty comfortable with the guys. It looked like they had woken up now, and the interview was going pretty smoothly. Deciding it was time to dive into their music, I jumped right in discussing their upcoming EP.
So you guys just dropped your single "Warrior Concerto" for the We Can Make The World Stop EP. Compared to your last album, it's a lot different from anything you've done. I listened to it last night and [It's different] especially in "warrior concerto" where you've got the strings. With the opening track at first I thought to myself- Oh man, this is a rock song– and then little over a minute in the bass hits and I'm like- OH, ok, there's Glitch Mob. Let's talk about that- is there an album coming out, later in the year?
The guys looked around at each other for a second, deciding who wanted to answer the question.
Ed: Probably next year, I mean our music is constantly changing and the EP is the next step. We're looking to continue on in a new direction with our music.
Josh: The EP was just another step in our whole evolution of music, just kind of the next thing.
Justin: We took what we learned from Drink The Sea, we toured for a year, brought music on the road, played in festivals, went to Europe, and when you tour so much and your on stage so much you get this feeling of what you want to say with your music. Drink The Sea was more something for the studio, and we took what we learned with that and the tour to bring really a live sensibility to it, where as [Drink The Sea] was more of a story, almost like a movie or a narrative- a tale we wanted to tell, and this new stuff doesn't have as much of a distinguished tale. I mean, there is a sort of story behind it but it's really something we wrote because we really wanted to perform it live and take that introspective experience to the stage and give that to people. The way you write a song is very different if it's going to be a listening song or if it's something for the stage.
Yeah I mean, with Drink The Sea that was something completely different than what you'd ever done before, in comparison to your mixtures, your shows- that sort of thing. Can you elaborate on why when you play live it sounds more like your mix tapes than the actual album itself?
Justin: Yeah, I mean for sure- the album was really a narrative and when we wrote it we really weren't thinking as much about how it was going to come off on a festival stage- we were just trying to tell a story in a way we know how- where as the live show, we take the feeling and the sound and we're writing something for the stage, so it was really interesting for us in our live show to gear everything to make the best show possible, and sometimes that means tweaking the songs and using some of our older stuff. The live show for us- that's really the payoff. Live shows are where we really get to share our music with the world. So it's a different mental process and a different creative process planning for the stage you know? It's not as much about playing the songs from start to finish as it is energizing the crowd as best we can.
Josh: We're reinventing our songs to be geared for a big live show audience and things like that, editing parts for old songs, extending parts- because some stuff doesn't work as well live as others.
That's the thing about playing live- you can't just play- well, I mean you can play whatever the fuck you want, but people nowadays have such short attention spans- especially in America- so after 5 minutes of one song people are ready for the next thing.
Justin: Yeah, there's definitely a different thing that happens with live shows where you're trying to take someone on a journey, and then when your around a bunch of people, it's like- there's an energy that happens in a crowd where they all get into one thing at the same time, and you have to read the crowd for sure- treat them the way they expect to be treated.
I decided it was time to ask the one question I had been itching to throw at them since I landed the interview a few weeks before hand. It was something I wasn't sure about, and could have easily been a touchy subject that they ignored- but luckily it wasn't and what they said in response couldn't have been better.
When you guys started, you were a five-piece group. Now, four years later, here we are and you've turned in to this sort of iconic trio. What happened with you guys [and Kraddy and Kitty-D]?
Ed smiled and put his hand up, shaking his head letting me know I hadn't crossed any lines.
Edit: Well, We don't mind talking about it. It's… the history of the group really, even without them the way the group has evolved really speaks to why creatively they didn't fit in. [The split up] was a creative thing, I mean we started off as a DJ collective act where we were all just fucking off and playing songs together and playing festivals and they'd be like- hey you join, and you join and it went like that for a while until we realized that it had some potential and we really needed to take things seriously. As the group started to evolve in a certain direction [Kraddy and Kitty-D] just wanted to do something else.
So there weren't any hard feelings or anything like that.
Josh: No, I mean it was definitely just creatively a whole different world, some of the guys were just like- Woah, I really want to make this, and we'd be like- that's fine, but we're gonna keep making what we're making right now, and it just made sense for us to part ways. So now they're doing their thing, it's all good, we're still homies.
At this point in the interview I wanted to let my camera guys jump in and throw a question or two at the crew. Luckily Matt already had something on his mind, so he spoke up pretty quick.
Matt: Just wanna know- why is there such a difference between the mix tapes and the albums? I liked how you took the it and did a preview of the album where you made the mix tapes for Drink The Sea– are you guys going to keep doing that- are the mix tapes over?
Josh: Yeah we've always been big fans of mix tapes, big fans of Hip Hop, mainstream, underground- all of those elements that you get in the mix tapes. I think [the mixtape] was kind of just for us- we really wanted to take Drink The Sea where we had this very deep introspective album that we really wanted to put out in the world, and basically flip it and make a mix tape out of it and reach all of those people that didn't necessarily get that album. That's also something we've done our whole career, individually, as a group, always have just taken music, cut it up, thrown in vocals, mix and matched- that's really what the glitch mob was like- it developed from that idea, that mix tape mentality- our DJ sets were always like, basically just live mixtapes- Which is definitely not going to stop- we love doing that. It's just fun, I mean, we spend all those hours and weeks and months in the studio working on music and then with the mix tape we get to go back and just play around and make new things out of what we've already spent all these ours making- [Drink The Sea] was just a totally different direction.
Justin: I think of it like in the creative process we feel kind of like a director or something- sometimes you want to go make a deep spiritual film or sometimes you want to make a gangster flick- and It's all kind of the same process for us.
Josh: Yeah we don't ever really get stuck in one thing, so for us to make a mix tape with a bunch of mainstream Hip Hop vocals on it was like, Fuck yeah- it's fucking fun- like, we don't take anything too seriously, so we're up to like, put Lil' Wayne or Drake on a mixture because we like those guys.
Justin: I think you'll see another mix tape before the new album comes out.
I had an interview later in the day with MiMOSA, and I wanted to hear their thoughts about the up-and-coming star. I made sure Matt was finished with his questions and returned to the conversation.
MiMOSA. I feel like you guys have fathered him during his rise to stardom. Can we talk about him for a second and your relationship with him?
Josh: I remember I went to Burning Man three years ago and I ended up in this camp with MiMOSA and I was with Marty and MiMOSA was just this funny little quiet- super long dreadlocks- just this dude in the corner who was so shy, and he just wanted to show me and Marty his music so bad- working off this little computer just sitting in this tent. So we listened to it and we were just like- this is really cool- sort of encouraged him to keep doing it. It's really cool to see him now compared to just a few years ago.
Justin: He's just one of those artists who is naturally very powerful on stage, and he gets all his recognition from just a really awesome live show and having very good music. I think he just puts on an awesome show -he's a good friend of ours- I mean back home we'll go and hang out, so it's totally just natural for us to just bring our friends on the tour.
Have you guys ever thought about doing any collabs with him?
Glitch Mob: Yeah Josh is collaborating with him.
Josh: I've done a ton of music with him. Just random Tuesday afternoon music making.
One of my favorite things is when artists that I like team up with other artists to create a duel cd. like the Outkast CD and MadLib.
Ed: MadLib is a big inspiration to us.
Josh: There's a lot of behind the scenes friendship too. It's a funny thing, but a lot of our favorite music is from our homies. We've all known Bassnectar many, many years- like back in high school in Santa Cruz. So for us to share, we're all super transparent. We share our secrets with Tigran and [he] will send us a bunch of samples. So from the outside it may not seem so, but behind the scenes we're all super helpful and transparent and we're always sharing hints and tips so it's super natural for us to bring our friends on tour.
We only had time for a few more questions, so I let my other camera man John jump in, and I'm glad I did- He ended up asking the only question that really stumped the guys during the whole interview.
John: Everyone has their artist even from when they were young that set them off, got them started on their whole career. who are those guys for you?
Justin: Haha oh man, we have such complex musical tastes it's really hard to just pick one.
Edit: Yeah for different phases, I'd say it was more of a moment in time, like the style and feeling of electronic music that was happening when we were growing up. For us we were all really big into early Drum & Bass and underground Bass Wave culture, and that was what probably triggered a lot of us into like. . .
Josh: In the early 2000's.
Justin: It segways coming up into Rock and being big underground Hip Hop fans. And at the time I was listening to Industrial music and early Aphex Twins, but from really being a punk kid, like hard core kids- and then finding electronic music and thinking "oh shit. this is my shit. game over" and getting your face melted by a huge sound system.
I'm a big fan of having my face melted by bass, and I love that phrase. Before John asked his question Ben came in and told us that we had about five more minutes left for the interview. My last question is one I generally like to ask in all of my interviews, and is something that seems to be different with each artist.
Haha Yeah, I'm looking forward to that tonight. I have one last question for you guys: in terms of the process that a song goes through from formulating it in your head to the final product, is there a pattern you guys use?
Ed: It generally starts from a feeling or an emotion that we're trying to express and that's generally where the music comes from. I think in the past our music was a little more dance floor, party sound system centered and not really as focused on the story or the feeling or the emotions of what we're trying to say. Lately a lot of what we're doing stems from what we're trying to say to the world from our hearts and as soon as that happens the rest really just follows. That's why in [our] music lately it's been so episodic.
After the interview was over we shook hands again, I thanked them for their time and wished them luck with their upcoming performance. They were some of the most friendly, laid back and professional men I've had the opportunity to meet and I can't say enough about how well they treated us. The show that night was incredible. Glitch Mob cares so much about their music and fans- something that is apparent during their performances and something that became quite obvious to me while I was talking with them. Glitch Mob is a class act and they aren't afraid to try new things- which is something that is admirable, especially because there is such high risk in doing so. Some people complain about the new Glitch Mob- that it's not "The old party sound that they used to have." There are artists out there that find a sound that people like and never change; Artists like that don't really care about music as much as they do about money. It's the artists that change with every album, that take risks with their music- those are the artists you need to pay attention to, because those are the ones with the real passion for music that separates the greats from the regulars. The Glitch Mob is one of those groups, and with every new thing they try people will complain- but I will stand beside them because I have seen face to face how much they care.
Look for the new album within the next year, and here are some links to help you stalk the band.
Follow me on Twitter @RonnieEarmilk