Running with the release of their first solidified album, the LA-based trio known as The Glitch Mob, trio consisting of members and sound racketeers EdiT, OOah, and Boreta, have been, quite literally, taking over stages from coast to coast nationally, and are now currently doing the same sonic justice to soundspheres from break to break on their Australasia tour. Personally witnessing Glitch Mob’s massive performances this year at both Coachella and earlier this month, at Electric Zoo Festival, it’s a near impossible task to give their highly engaged, technologically future-time-traveling performances justice in merely words alone. However, in an exclusive interview I had EdiT not too far back, via TheMusicNinja he gives me the full rundown of their electrifying accomplishments; in the studio and on stage, an insider look at the intricacies of their technical production, as well as a glimpse inside their outlook looking forward into what’s to come for the ever-involved and on a multiple of levels, the rapidly-advancing band of production evolutionaries known as The Glitch Mob.
Exclusive Interview, Videos, and More after the jump!
Q: First off, congratulations on the new album, it’s a huge step for you guys, produced one solidified narrative of your sound, big congrats.
edIT: Oh, thank you!
Q: So you guys are fresh off of your international tour, ready to start back again in the States, but tell me, which country or city in general that was the most memorable for you guys.
edIT: Oh wow, well there’s so many great shows, dates, and memories from the past U.S. tour and the European tour, and it’s really hard to just pick one. I’d say maybe one that surprised me the most was Mobile, Alabama.
edIT: Yeah (laughs) I’d just never been there before, you know, and it was just really interesting to just see how die-hard people are out there I guess. A lot of music doesn’t really go through there, so when people come to your town everyone comes out and it’s an exciting thing. Also, Ashville, North Carolina was really great. That was also a really amazing city. Honestly, like a lot of the smaller cities that we’d never played in before were the ones that really surprised me a lot on these past two tours.
Q: Any one city stand out for your internationally?
edIT: Yeah I mean, you know Europe is always an amazing experience in general just because it’s so different out there. I’d say the standout shows this year were London and Belgium – they were probably our best shows.
Q: So musically your guys’ first album “Drink The Sea” is somewhat of a sonic transition for you guys from your previous remix and individual recordings you’ve released, how would you go about defining the sound that you guys are working with now?
edIT: Well you know I think “Drink The Sea’” is a very personal and sentimental record for the three of us. I think looking back on it now and I’ve discussed this a lot with Boreta, you know I think for us it was a very introspective record. It was definitely a reflection of a period of time that the three of us shared together, where we were all going through a very similar experience and it’s something that’s very close to our hearts. I guess you could call it more of a ‘listening experience’ as opposed to a ‘dance floor/live experience’. It’s definitely not an album full of a bunch of just 12” dance singles. Not to say that we won’t go back to that or revisit that kind of thing in the future, but yeah I guess you could say it’s an album through and through: one that you can listen to, from front and back. It’s also something that we feel that in 20 years we’ll be able to throw on and it’ll still stand up, and we will still enjoy listening to it. That’s something that was very important for us for our first record this time around — to put something down and weave something that was memorable.
Q: This album is not “Glitch” but of course according to the name of your guys’ group Glitch Mob, what kind of genre or number of genres would you say completely help to define this album?
edIT: I mean it’s really hard you know because we don’t look at this album in terms of any genres or musical themes per se. A lot people have asked us ‘what do you call this music?’ and the best answer we can give is just it’s ‘really street’ or just three guys making music. I really don’t know what to call it, honestly, that’s just what came out. One thing we’ve always been really big on is letting the audience determine what The Glitch Mob means to them and I think the same goes for “Drink The Sea”. I understand a lot of the confusion because we’re called The Glitch Mob and there are no “glitch techniques” on the album. But to us The Glitch Mob was always just a name. We never set out to be essentially the pioneers or figureheads for any movement or scene or musical genre. I think that’s just something that a lot of fans had determined what we meant to them, but that’s not necessarily what we were setting out to do. We didn’t want to take that away from the fans either but we never set out to just make “glitch music” or glitch music at a hip-hop tempo. We’ve always made a bunch of different styles and varieties of music and I think that’s reflected through and through with this record. We definitely went out on a limb and were vulnerable, and took a chance and really just went out there and told our story; as opposed to doing essentially what a lot of people expected us to do. We weren’t trying to piss anyone off or trying to be different. We were really just making the album that we wanted to make it and that’s what came out.
Q: To help break it down a little, if your music were a type of animal what would would it be and why?
edIT: Um, I guess it would be a shapeshifter… Is that a good answer? (laughs)
Q: Well, is that even a good question?! (laughs)
edIT: I’m trying to think of something clever but nothing’s coming to mind right now, so I’d say Chameleon or something like that.(laughs) You caught me off guard there.
Q: So this sound (animal?!) that you’re talking about, how was it received internationally?
edIT: Well the thing out in Europe is that everyone has grown up on electronic music; I think it’s a little different than in the States. Electronic music is just a part of pop culture out there so I think for a group like us to get up on the stage with guitars, bass, drums, but also computers and electronics and stuff like that, I think that makes sense to the European crowd. They’ve seen that a lot already; they comprehend it, they understand it, they know what’s going on. Whereas out in the States if you took someone that’s very used to watching a band all the time and they come see us perform, they might be a little confused because they see a band up there with guitar, bass, drums, electronics and stuff, but they might hear some sounds that are coming out that are not being played right then and there, which can be confusing to that kind of spectator.
But I think out in Europe people instantly know what’s going on. I think the difference is that because electronic music is such a part of everybody’s life out there that I think that people can instantly define and compartmentalize what type of electronic music is going on. They’ll go see something and be like “oh yeah that’s house or drum and bass, or breaks or whatever”, they’re like “This. Is. X”, you know? But when a group like us gets up there, they’re like “I understand there’s an electronic act playing right now, but I don’t really know what to call this.” So, I think they understand it right off the bat but maybe it’s something that’s, even though they get what’s going on, it’s something very unfamiliar to them. Which can be great. It’s an opportunity for us to really introduce the fans out there to something new, or introduce first-timers who are listening to Glitch Mob to something new. But by-and-large we were really well received out there. Most of the dates were headlining Glitch Mob shows so most of the people coming out were Glitch Mob fans, and when we played big festivals I think that’s when we were hitting a gigantic audience of people who by-and-large had never seen us play before.
Q: Well speaking of live shows, there’s almost a theatrical sense involved in your demonstration of the live production of electronic music, which brings about this human characteristic or [a characteristic] that electronic music typically lacks. How do you see your role as a performer, rather than just as a DJ, benefiting the electronic genre as a whole?
edIT: We like to create an experience on stage and I think in the past when we were DJs I think our performances so to speak, or DJ sets, were much more about the tunes — it was really just about what tracks you had and how you put it all together. But nowadays since we only play original music, we spend a lot of emphasis on “how can we best represent and portray these songs into a live situation?”. So there’s a heavy emphasis on “how can we best perform this?” and “how can we best perform this so that it’s engaging to the spectator?” Which is why we tilt our leads to the crowd so you can actually see what’s happening, and we make it very obvious that when you see us playing “Lemur” and you hear that particular synth lead. You are able to put it all together, you see it happening and unfolding like “Oh that guy’s playing the synth lead onto ‘Lemur‘ right now”. So that’s something we were really big on because there’s definitely often times an air of mystery as to what’s going on up there when you see a guy with a laptop — it could really be anything. I think a big part of our show is breaking down that imaginary wall and really just being transparent with the audience and showing them exactly what we’re doing up there.
Q: I actually saw you guys at Coachella this past year and I was impressed not only by the overall performance but the fact that the three of you seemed to switch back and forth between instruments and jobs constantly. Does any one member of Glitch Mob have a particular role?
edIT: No not really. That was something that we are really big on. I guess you could look at this project as essentially like three producers coming together to play like a band would. If you’re a producer, essentially your role is everything: you program drums, you write synth leads, you make sounds, you mix it all down. That’s also the case with how we wrote the record. No one person was in charge of any particular aspect of the songwriting process. I think what inspired us to a degree to perform that way where we switch around a lot, was watching bands like Tortoise; where they’re all multi-instrumentalists, they can all play just about any instrument and they all rotate during their sets. Probably not as much as we do because we rotate a lot during the song, whereas they rotate after each song. Which is something we realized, something we were really big on in the process of putting together this live set, we were like “Oh it’s gonna be so cool if we’re always running around on stage and switching stations and picking up the guitar and putting it down”. I think something we began realize was maybe just a little confusing… But that’s something we’re working on and we’re going to try to make it a little more coherent. Because all the songs are written in a way where they’re all multi-part song structures and they change a lot — they also change a lot, and very quickly. There might be 16 bars of something’s happening, and then it goes into something completely different; which can also be hard to play on stage. Sometimes you have to run and play the guitar for literally 16 bars and then put it down and be back to my station in time to play the next part. Moving forward, I think we’re going to try to rethink that aspect of our live shows a little bit; try to make it a little bit more clear as to what’s happening, so that it’s a little less confusing.
Q: You guys made the album with the intention of never being able to perform it just solely on Ableton Live? You made the album with the intention of performing it live like you guys actually do?!?
edIT: We actually do use Ableton Live, but yeah we wrote the record with some aspects in mind of “how would this be to perform on stage?” So obviously, there are a lot of percussion parts we were like “oh this is gonna be great, this very climactic part is gonna be great to play these percussion parts on stage!” However, it still ended up being very much like a studio album. We wrote the album entirely in the studio, even though we played a lot of the stuff live like guitars and bass, and programmed a lot of the Midi live from the keyboard, it still ended up being a studio album. Which, in the end, still ended up being kind of difficult to reverse engineer. For instance, like I said, there are parts where I have to play the guitar for 16 bars and then I have to jump and play something else, things like that were things in the songwriting process that we did not really foresee as being complicated during a live set, but they ended up being very complicated. So I think for the next album we’re going to rethink it a little more, even think about the live performance aspect even more when we write the next album because we definitely learned a lot from this record.
Q: Going back to the studio, starting at day one, you guys are building a track upon track, it must be an immense process, where the hell do you even begin?
edIT: Well pretty much every day in the studio, because the studio that we write all the music in is actually at my house. So a typical day of songwriting would consist of Boreta coming over, we’d always lunch together, we’d discuss what we wanted to accomplish that day and we’d go down into the studio and basically just get the ideas flowing and just to execute. Actually, the rough drafts of all the songs were completed over the course of about a month and a half to two months, so by the end of two months we had the rough ideas for every single song but they just sounded like a demo tape — none of them were completed. But all the melodic ideas and general tempos and arrangements of the songs were all working up to two months. And then months after that we’re going back and refining and designing all the sounds for the record and mixing it down, so actually the record was written fairly quickly to some extent. Obviously the sound designing and the mixing and the mastering goes into making a record, but actually the main idea process of it all came together in a two month time period.
Q: Going back to the basis of it all, there’s an obvious heavy integration of the multiple MIDI tracks, the filters, the plug-ins. It must be a nightmare trying to solidify all of those innumerable manipulations – choosing from all of those sessions and putting it into just one solidified master track. In a day’s typical session how many tracks do you guys accumulate?
edIT: Yeah it’s a crazy process. I think each song that we wrote was well over 100 tracks and the only way we could realistically mix it down was we basically relied on these cards made by Universal Audio, and so we mixed the album down on those cards and primarily used the computer for playback. Because there’s so many tracks and it’s really hard to mix it down. But in the end, it all worked out but it was definitely a very difficult process because the main thing that was different this time around much more so than our previous songs, was that the songs change frequently. One song could have four or five different parts in it, whereas previously, a lot of our songs were made of just one or two parts, or three parts. But this time around the songs evolved a lot. We were really big on this multi-part song structure style — similar to the way Queen writes music. Songs that change a lot and it was definitely hard to mix down, but in the end we pulled it all together.
Q: Given each track, the complicated atmospheres and sonic nuances you guys embed into every single song, were you guys worried about how those songs might translate inside the clubs or inside big area listening stages perhaps?
edIT: No not so much. We definitely mixed the record differently compared to how we mixed our previous stuff. Going back to the whole idea of the album being much more of a listening record, we mixed the record with considerably less tie-ins than normal, and that was really something that I’ve always noticed during sound checks with previous Glitch Mob material. I always had to wear ear plugs at my own sound check and at my own shows, and I was like “it shouldn’t have to be like that?” “There’s gotta be a way that you could mix your tunes down to where they still bang but they’re not shredding your ears…?” And that’s definitely something we’re really big on with this process because the songs were meant to be experienced at a pretty loud volume. So, as opposed to making all the tracks extremely bright we’d rather compensate and not have them be as bright, but have you be able to experience them at extreme volumes without them hurting your ears. It was really funny when we dropped our first single, a lot of the people who are DJs and producers and fans of our stuff actually thought that our stuff wasn’t mastered, or they thought that it just sounded muddy. But it’s all subjective really. But for us ,we definitely went for a much more classic mix-down approach for this album, not something that had a lot of crispy, pop and sheen that might sound good at a lower volume, but at a higher volume you’d really be tearing your head off. Once again the listening experience was really important for us and if you’re going to listen to this record from front to back for 60 minutes it was really important that the record did not fatigue your ears. If you listen to some drum and bass for 60 minutes straight on a pair of headphones, by the end of that 60 minutes if you’ve been listening at a very loud volume I can almost guarantee you that your ears will be fried, so it was a little bit of reverse-psychology, I think generally with dance music everyone is so keen on making everything so crispy and very bright — and we actually went with the opposite approach.
Q: So would you say that the ideal way in your guys’ minds for someone to listen to a Glitch Mob track would be via a pair of headphones?
edIT: Not necessarily. We mixed it down in a way that it could translate in any type of situation. We definitely did do a lot of production tricks that were geared towards someone listening to the record on a pair of headphones. There are lots of stereo tricks happening, but it’s still something you can throw on on your home stereo and still enjoy. We didn’t necessarily write this record strictly for headphones. I remember reading a Prefuse 73 interview a long time ago where he had mixed a particular record that was perfect to listen to on a pair of iPod earbuds and I thought that was really interesting… But we definitely didn’t approach this record like that at all.
Q: So now you have come out with this big collaboration between the three of you guys, however, we still see here and there every so often that you guys are coming out with a few individual projects or remixes of your own. How much time do you guys get to spend on producing your own solo projects?
edIT: Actually everything that we’ve released since “Drink The Sea” have been solo efforts. All of those tunes are older songs that have been previously unreleased. We thought it would be a good idea to stoke up the fans and then give them away for free. But for instance Boreta’s Mike, Aaron & Eddie remix and then also my “Pound 4 Pound” track were all older songs that we’ve just given away for free at this point. Honestly we’ve been so busy with touring and focusing on Glitch Mob that we really haven’t had a whole lot of time to work on any solo material.
Q: So even despite the fact that you guys are on tour and are constantly so busy with everything, you guys seem to take your social media interaction with your fans very seriously. To the extent where you’re personally responding to the majority of Tweets or message that come into you guys… That’s kind of insane given the following you’ve amassed! How do you keep up?
edIT: It’s tough but you I think in this day and age, being an artist it means more than just making the music and going out there and performing it. To us, it also obviously means having a relationship with the fans. And that’s something we’re really big on and we look at the whole Glitch Mob experience as a gigantic community. It’s not just us going up there to perform music or write music, so we’re definitely really big on interacting with the fans, and it’s been really great. We know that there are a lot of fans out there who are producers and DJs and that’s why we started the Facebook discussion forum to share tips and tricks and ideas, and through that we’ve learned a lot of stuff from fans who’ve posted there. We have stuff like the ‘Remix it like You Stole It” remix competition. And the Soundcloud page for that is something like 70 remixes deep at this point, and that’s something we’re really big on is including the fans in the process in any way that we can. Obviously aside from writing the music but it’s something we’re really big on.
Q: So, album’s dropped, you guys are off on tour, do you have anything else that’s brewing up behind the scenes that you’d like to tell us about?
edIT: Yeah we’re actually going to be dropping the “Drink The Sea” mixtape very very soon. We’re in the process of finalizing it this week so hopefully before we start the next tour, which is the 20th. We’re going to release the mixtape online and pass it out at shows for free, and there will also be a t-shirt made for it too. But that’s the main thing we’re working on right now.
Q: Last question, when are you guys going to finally come to San Diego?
edIT: *laughs* We have been to San Diego before but I don’t really know why it didn’t work out on this past tour, but this next tour that we’re going on is primarily all throughout the Midwest and a little bit of the East Coast so I don’t think we’ll be hitting San Diego this time around, but hopefully we’ll be back to San Diego sometime soon. We’ve always had a good time playing down there.
Photo via a great article about Electric Zoo 2010 by Peter Kirn at Create Digital Music – see whole thing here