There is music that motivates and sounds that resonate to different minds and separate tastes. When artists can find a way to encompass all musical differences under one scope you have some truly valuable work. The Glitch Mob have done just that with each new project these three decide to take on. I had the opportunity to speak with Boreta from the trio to ask about the band's upcoming ideas, musical history as group, and current work with the future of live music.
EARMILK: Hey Justin, thanks for talking with me today. From your last album release, 'Love Death Immortality' what has The Glitch Mob been kept active doing?
Justin Boreta: Well the album came out in February we were in the middle of producing our live show. Since then, we've been all around the world touring. We've been to Europe twice and are on our third big tour throughout America. It's been pure live performances all of the time.
EM: Your live show The Blade has been described as a sensory overload since you've incorporated a whole visual element. Can you explain how this concept started and how you came in contact with Martin Phillips from Bionic League who helped design the stage?
JB: It's been a real progression for us because we've been interested in ways of performing our music live since we started making music. We've experimented with different technologies, software, and gear. The Blade wasn't really possible until now but is basically a big audio visual art installation. We have a lot of crazy technology and custom software interlined for us to play music.
JB: Martin has worked with us for a while since he actually worked on our last tour. He has a really impressive roster as well from working with a good portion of the coolest stage designs in the past 20 years. We're a really creative band and we have no label so when we work with Martin it's just us in a room with a white board.
JB: Matt Davis, who has a company called Name The Machine, programs all the software behind The Blade which is just as important. There is a whole interlocking audio and visual system. Martin does the stage design and video, while Matt is the main architect behind the audio system.
EM: Would you say that your work as band members is often balanced with him or that Martin has had the main idea for The Blade?
JB: It's definitely a collaborative process. It feels like Martin is the fourth member of The Glitch Mob. We are hands on and very specific with everything we do. Before Martin's tour we hand built our entire stage and programmed everything ourselves. We designed the lighting show and it felt very DIY.
JB: This is the first time we've been able to work with someone and it's a lot of back and forth. We're constantly sending ideas back and forth and we have very extensive mood boards. We will send Martin the music which he has before anyone else for him to get a vibe of what it is we are going for.
EM: There has been an increase of spectacles with live performances and has become an necessity for popular musicians. What do you think is driving this constant innovation?
JB: Funny enough, I actually think Daft Punk had a lot to do with that. As far as EDM is concerned, Daft Punk played Coachella in 2007 and Martin had made them this crazy stage. At the time they were one of only electronic artists to play at a mainstage. I think it's gone with the explosion of electronic music where it's a creative and competitive space. Musicians want to find the coolest way to play music, but at the end of the end it comes down to the effort.
We've also come from being DJ's where we used to stand on a fold-in table and play our laptops. The reason why you made music to be a DJ was because you never thought it was going to be popular. Now there is a lot of interest in it, there's so many people, so much money, so many fans, everything got bigger. There is a market for it now.
EM: How important do you feel the artist's presence is on stage?
JB: It totally depends because for us it's all about the drama and energy, I mean our music dramatic and triumphant. You'll see Skrillex play and he has this amazing energy, he's in command drawing crowds of people. You'll see The xx play and they have very little stage presence, it's almost ambient. You can intuitively know when someone is enjoying themselves on stage.
EM: You launched on audio assault in 2008 for episode 83 of XLR8R's TV series. At the start of the video there is a man complaining about how no one is a musician anymore and DJ's are just technicians making noise. What do you remember about that video?
JB: We just wanted to try something crazy and think outside the box by showcasing what we do in a different context. Electronic music is always played in the club, concert hall, or rave. What would happen if we did this on the street? It was definitely illegal, we had our generator and would plug it in until the cops came.
JB: It's been accepted more as a valid form as music, but when that video came out it really wasn't. But he's right, we're not a bunch of trained musicians. I mean I didn't go to music school, but that's a really limited idea for music. Technology has allowed us to enjoy making music and the ability to share with other people.
EM: Does his claim hold any truth as to how to classify musicians or is he not realizing the possibility of what instruments can become?
JB: Our real instrument is the studio, when you come see a DJ play these days you don't think "omg, this guy is shredding". Some people can do some really crazy stuff and it's really hard to be a good DJ, but it's not like watching Jimmy Hendrix shred a guitar. You'll see Miles Davis videos and it's someone who practiced 10 times a day every day his entire life. But that's what we do with our studio, the studio is our instrument and then we come out and perform it the way we go out.
EM: That's actually a really interesting distinction. The studio has become an instrument but an enlarged space. I know what you mean though, when you see a DJ performing on a laptop it's not the same. You don't give it as much credibility.
EM: In the video though, This guy makes a pretty serious claim considering that electronic production is becoming a normality. What do you feel gives electronic music authenticity by the medium in which it is created?
JB: The cool thing about what has happened with electronic music is that it's allows you to explore a new palette of sound. In the past you'd have your drum kit, a guitar and some pedals, which can be good because you focus more on the music.
JB: But within electronic music you have a much broader range of sound. The studios we have avaliable at home with one laptop with Ableton was completely unfathomable only 10 years ago. Now the equipment is basically dirt cheap which allows anyone to make music.
EM: What do you think makes The Glitch Mob's music unique and why have you resonated so well with a wide range of demographics?
JB: It's the place where it comes from, we try to keep it unique to our core. When we write music we try to tell the story that is our own and what we've gotten through. We have a really close connection with our fan base so we take what we do very seriously. We've really seen being out on the road and meeting people first hand how music can change peoples live and brighten their day. I think a combination of that and all three of our production styles is the driving factor.
EM: What are the main challenges and advantages working as a trio?
JB: Well we've found a really good group. The best part about working with a trio is that we make decisions really fast. But the challenge that people don't really understand is that it takes a lot longer to do things. You feel it should be faster with three people working but you have three people to satisfy. Especially when everyone has their hands on everything.
EM: You invented the app Mirrorgram which is a photo editing program. What inspired you to create this and did it's success surprise you?
JB: I make a lot of iPhone art and it's a really easy way for me to make pictures. There was no app that did that, I was like are you serious? I just want to make something really easy that was half a mirror. Actually right now Mirrorgram is going through a change, it is going to be relaunched under a new name because of somethings that happened. It's a fun project, but it's really out of necessity!
EM: Yeah, when I first found that downloaded that app a few years back I thought how had this not been an app yet? Brilliant idea! Anyways, thanks Justin for your time. It was great speaking with you today.
Example of Mirrorgram
If you feel ready for a sensory enlightenment from a musical trio that has sparked so much attention, then check out their upcoming tour dates to see The Blade live.
10/3/14 – Austin, City Limits Music Festival – Austin, TX
10/10/14 – Austin, City Limits Music Festival – Austin, TX
10/11/14 – House of Blues – Houston, TX
10/13/14 – Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland – Kansas City, MO
10/15/14 – 7 Flags – Clive, IA
10/16/14 – Myth – St. Paul, MN
10/17/14 – Aragon Ballroom – Chicago, IL
10/18/14 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO
10/19/14 – Orpheum Theatre – Madison, WI
10/21/14 – The LC Pavilion – Columbus, OH
10/22/14 – Royal Oak Music Hall – Royal Oak, MI
10/23/14 – Stage AE – Pittsburgh, PA
10/24/14 – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON
10/25/14 – Metropolis – Montreal, QC
10/28/14 – Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel – Providence, RH
10/29/14 – House of Blues – Boston, MA
10/30/14 – State Theatre – Portland, ME
10/31/14 – Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA
11/1/14 – Hammerstein Ballroom – New York, NY
11/2/14 – Echostage – Washington DC