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Posted Jun 3rd, 2010 (12:16 am) by Mathew Plotnick

The Glitch Mob represents a style of sonic art that exudes pure sexuality and energy through live performance. Josh Mayer, Justin Boreta and Ed Ma's collective love for sound, coupled with their rather unique vision has culminated in an electronic work of genius, the recently released Drink the Sea. Although individually famous, The Glitch Mob has proven that the whole can certainly be greater than the sum of its parts. Inyourspeakers had the pleasure of speaking to Justin Boreta about Drink The Sea, the beginnings of The Glitch Mob, what it took to attract a strong following without even having a record released, the strength of the West coast electronic music scene, and how each group member is able to maintain a solo career while working on the current project.

Inyourspeakers: Everyone in the Glitch Mob has built their own fame at this point; Ooah, edIT and you have done quite a bit in a solo sense. How different is it to write music with two other great musicians, as opposed to writing it alone?

Boreta: Well the way the whole thing started, is that we’re all individual artists who came together out of a mutual love for a similar sound and a similar vision. When we got together we didn’t quiet expect to be making music, but we started making an album and it was just magic. There’s just something really fun and energetic when we play together and we all just kind of have a thing where we check our egos at the door and just put it all on the table in the studio. We have really good studio chemistry because we’re all friends and have been friends since before we were making music together. It sort of extended out of that friendship. It’s nice because the way we work is that we all rotate and we all work in one studio. We don’t trade files back and forth, so it’s all very hands on. One guy will sit at the computer and start writing for hours and hours, and when he gets stuck, the next guy takes over and changes what he does, and transforms a lot. The way we rotate makes a really dynamic studio experience.

Inyourspeakers: It also happens to make an excellent live show. Are you happier playing with two other musicians live, or are you more comfortable alone at this point?

Boreta: Oh it’s absolutely a better experience working with two other people up there just because I think we all kind of collectively fell in love with being a group. There’s just something about being up on stage, all ripping off of each other. We like to have shows where we really interact with the crowd, and doing that with multiple people is much more fun for us.

Inyourspeakers: What is it about a Glitch Mob show that is so intense and exciting, that you can get people in the seats without even having a record out?

Boreta: Well, one thing is that the technology we have now makes it so we can sell out shows at pretty big venues without even having a record. We’ve been releasing a bunch of individual songs and remixes which we give out. When we first started touring as the Glitch Mob we printed out thousands of CDs and just handed them out. At festivals we always went to the front of the stage and just handed out our music for free, and the information and music travels so fast that’s its really easy for people to share music right now. A word of mouth thing starts to happen that’s really great because the internet is really just a way to heighten and extend word of mouth, but word of mouth is still the most powerful way to learn about music. If one of my really close friends tells me to check something out, I will.

Inyourspeakers: Do you think that the individual fame that each member of the Glitch Mob has to their name is a big part of your success, or has it really not been a factor?

Boreta: Well, I think it meant quite a bit, because we didn’t have an album as the Glitch Mob. A lot of people heard about us through edIT, who has a couple of albums, and Josh (Ooah), who has some solo stuff as well. Now a lot of people have heard about us as the Glitch Mob, and edIT put out an album in like 2005 or something, so people have been following him for longer than Josh and I, which definitely helped spread the word.

Inyourspeakers: One of the aspects I really loved about Drink the Sea, is the album artwork. The name itself also happens to be pretty interesting. Who designed this album cover, and picked the name, and how did you come up with the results that you did?

Boreta: The way the whole thing came about is actually interesting. Just a little back story to the whole process; the album, from the time we started it, until we finished mastering it, took about nine months. So we had been messing around with ideas about a full year before that, and trying to think of what we would do. Another thing we’d been doing is that we’d take a month and write a song individually every day of the month, and put it all up on a folder online to get ideas and stuff, and then when we made the album we threw that all away and started from scratch. We really wanted to make this album into a story and sort of a narrative. We decided that the concept for the album would be that each song is starting from an emotion or feeling or picture that we wanted to paint, and then the album as a whole would be its own story. When we were looking for someone to do the art, we wanted someone who would help us paint that picture, and really augment that sense of depth that were shooting for with the whole thing. Depth was really important to us, because we spent many hours detailing the layers of the album, and we wanted to offer a way into that world and really paint that picture. We crossed paths with Sonny Kay, who’s been known to do the artwork for The Mars Volta, and he’s an amazing artist. He does album covers, but he spends most of his time doing his own art and it’s really amazing. He does a lot of sampling of old pictures, and he’ll go to the library and hunt down weird old books and scan them and put them together in Photoshop, which is how he did our cover. The second we met him we knew that it was going to work. He got the vision, and knew where we wanted to take it, and we trusted him. The title of the album just goes back to wanting to tell a story with the music, which is maybe a more difficult thing to do without vocals, because you’re not spelling out the message, but there still is a message in there. We don’t explain the album title further then the title itself, just because we want people to dive in for themselves and make of it what they will.

Inyourspeakers: You worked with Swan on “Between Two Points”, which was one of the first singles released by The Glitch Mob. How was it to work with a vocalist on a record without any vocals?

Boreta: It was amazing actually. The story behind that was that we finished writing that song and most of the songs on the record, and we didn’t have any vocals on any of the songs, and we didn’t plan to have any. Pretty much, everything you hear on the record is stuff that we created or recorded. We essentially wanted to go back and use our own samples, whereas in the past we would go back and use samples from old records. Using our own samples really gave the music an organic and unique feel. Part of that are the vocal samples, which we were going to use for a few sounds here and there, and we wanted Swan to record the vocal samples. She’s a good friend of ours and we just wanted to have her come in and rip on the album and create samples that we could use on that song. It just so happened that we gave her the song two days earlier, and she came in with lyrics for it, and she wrote her own melodies too. She came in and said “Hey I have these lyrics, let’s see how it works.” It was instantly magic, so we just ran with it. It was definitely not planned at all, but once we started rolling with it we instantly realized that it’s where we wanted to go with the music.

Inyourspeakers: Besides just writing great original songs, you’ve also written (I assume as a group) many great remixes for songs. I credit you for making the only version of “Lollipop” I could ever enjoy. You also worked with TV on the Radio, who also tends to work outside of their sound often. How do you end up remixing these songs, and how is it different remixing a song as a group?

Boreta: TV on the Radio sort of came about by chance. They were looking for remixes for the Dear Science, album, and a friend of a friend passed on our information to Dave Sitek, and he liked it and asked us to do it. We actually have some other stuff we’re doing with them in the near future, but I guess I can’t really talk about that right now. The Lil Wayne remix is completely unofficial really; we just found the acapella and did it. The same thing kind of happened when we remixed “Krazy Ballhead” by Ed Banger; it just sort of came about. There’s something about the fact that we have a very specific sound to our music, and yeah it’s fun when artists can come together and remix each other’s work.

Inyourspeakers: In a different interview, edIT mentioned that America is coming back into dance music recently. I’ve noticed a small group of artists, mostly West Coast located, like The Glitch Mob, Tipper, Flying Lotus, and Bassnectar, who tend to have a sound that’s less annoying then techno and much more intense then dubstep. I don’t know where that sound fits in, or if it even has to fit in anywhere, but how do you come about working with such a distinct style of music?

Boreta: Well it’s a good question, and I don’t think there’s any easy answer for it. In our case specifically, there wasn’t a lot of calculation involved in what we were trying to make and what we were trying to do, but there’s also the fact that the people you mentioned all really grew up going to electronic shows, and now they integrate that with other things like Hip-Hop, which is a really common base in the West Coast. In the UK, people grew up with Drum and Bass, and Grime, and hardcore UK rave music, whereas we grew up as teenagers listening to Hip-Hop, and I think Hip-Hop and Punk are a common thread with a lot of those artists. There’s also production aesthetics, where it’s not as trance oriented as it is Hip-Hop, like if you go see a hip-hop legend like DJ Premiere and he’s throwing down songs, not necessarily focused on making a smooth blend between songs, but more on the beat and rhythm.

Inyourspeakers: One thing I’ve also noticed about the Glitch Mob in particular is an almost sexy intensity to the songs that feels like an attack at your senses. When working as a group at this point, does the intensity come naturally?

Boreta: Yeah, I think it does. We really like to manipulate sound, and we’d be doing this if we’ve found any success or not, so we really, for lack of a better phrase, geek out on sound, and converging sounds and emotion and art. When we get to the studio it’s never super calculated, but the natural merging of all of our backgrounds is really what comes out, but we do really intentionally want it to be kind of a roller coaster ride and we try to keep it exciting, so when you go to one of our shows you just lose yourself for that point of time, in the sound, the spectrum of frequencies, and the emotions and everything like that.

Inyourspeakers: I know that many of the members of the Glitch Mob, besides doing their own side work, also have other side projects like Pantyraid and Nasty Wayz. When you have so many different groups at once, how can you consistently be making music without losing track of one project?

Boreta: To be honest, once we started really writing the Glitch Mob record, everything went to the side. The Pantyraid record came out in the middle of the whole process, but Josh wrote that record a while ago. Once we really started working on it (Drink The Sea), we haven’t really had any time for anything else. We were working on the record for 10 to 12 hours a day, and then the second we finished it we moved into touring mode, where we figured out how to play it live. I think before we really started writing the record there was a lot of juggling going on, where we’d spend a week fretting and practicing, and doing our remixes, and then we would go tour with the other projects. It didn’t really congeal into a whole spectrum of experience until we dropped all the other side projects, and now I haven’t done any solo stuff, and neither have the other guys, for quite a while. I do have a remix of Nosaj Thing coming out, and Ed has a remix of Machine Gun coming out, but The Glitch Mob is the main focus.

Inyourspeakers: Will the Glitch Mob be the main project for a while?

Boreta: Absolutely, I think we’ve been touring this record for a long time, and it’s sort of a grassroots thing because we do everything ourselves, and we answer all of our questions online ourselves. We’re also our own roadies right now, so we carry everything. It’s a very DIY operation, and yeah, it’s gonna take the front seat for a long time. We’ve looked at our tour schedule, and it’s going to take up the rest of the year.

Inyourspeakers: The West coast electronic scene has definitely become one of the strongest in the U.S. How much credit do you give the scene for creating and developing a project like the Glitch Mob?

Boreta: I think the West Coast music scene has been completely instrumental in getting us where we are right now. It’s hard to say what it is, but Los Angeles in particular is such a big town geographically, that so much can be going on there, and it just so happens that at this point in time that there’s so many people doing interesting things. There’s also this rabid interest in music, and there’s this combination of technology and music right now that’s hard to really explain. We are specifically a West Coast phenomenon, and we owe everything we have to the people who were doing it before us, and we draw a lot of influence from our peers in the community. It’s not really a competitive thing either though. We’re just kind of off doing our own thing, whereas I was involved in the Drum and Bass scene a while back, and so was edIT, and there you almost had to play your best track or your best set to be better than the guy before you, or a guy in another town. Now we all help each other out a lot and we’re all friends. We’re always trading samples and reactive patches with Flying Lotus, Bassnectar, and Gaslamp Killer, and we’re all good homies, and I hang out with Nosaj Thing in LA when we aren’t touring. I think that’s a big part of it, that this particular movement and style right now is really helpful as a flourishing supporter of the community.

Inyourspeakers: What’s been your favorite place to play a show with The Glitch Mob?

Boreta: Well, you know there really is no one favorite place. Everything changes a lot with every place we go to, and we’re also changing the set a lot, manipulating little things, moving songs around, so it’s always really surprising. None of us have been to a lot of the places we’re going to, so it’s always fun to go to a small town, like when we played Greensboro, North Carolina on a Monday night, and it was amazing, because we walked to the stage before the show and it was completely sold out. Which is only really 250 people, but it’s still a really magical thing. There’s something really cool about being able to go to these small towns that we haven’t been to before and see so many people coming out to ride the roller coaster we’re putting out. We’re still surprised every time we go to a place like Greensboro, or Athens, Georgia, and still see people coming out to see us play.

Inyourspeakers: Did you guys personally choose Free The Robots and Deru for your tour openers, and how has it been to play with them?

Boreta: Yeah, we decided to bring them out because we’re such big fans of their music, and we wanted to have the night of music, from the second you get there until the second you leave, to be music that we really curated and music that we love. I would listen to both of their records on my iPod and in my car, so it was such a big honor to bring them out on the road.

Inyourspeakers: The Glitch Mob has also become regulars at many great festivals. Are there any festivals that you’re particularly looking forward to playing?

Boreta: We’re headed out to Europe in July which is really exciting, where we’re playing the Dour Festival in Belgium, which is kind of like Coachella in, that it has so many different genres of music being played, so we’re really looking forward to that. Also we’re excited to come back to New York for Electric Zoo.

Inyourspeakers: Do you see the Glitch Mob changing up there style, so that Drink The Sea sounds nothing like the next record? Or will it be the common theme, with altercations each time?

Boreta: It’s really hard to say, because we’re already starting to plan and scheme out our next record, and I think it’s safe to say that we’re not the type of group who makes the same record over and over again. Some groups do, and they do it in an amazing fashion, like one of our favorite groups of all time, Boards of Canada. They make the same record over and over again, and every record is another favorite. Maybe the next record will be an extension to Drink the Sea, or maybe we’ll do something completely different. We definitely like to challenge ourselves, and step out of our comfort zone a lot, so it’s safe to say that things will be changing.

Inyourspeakers: You also work with your own record label, on which you released Drink the Sea. Do you plan on bringing on artists to the label, or is it more of a personal endeavor?

Boreta: Having our own record label was really something we used to get the record out to the world immediately. We don’t have anything against record labels or anything like that, but when we finished the record we really just wanted to get it out to everyone, because people have been waiting so long and we’ve been talking about for fucking ever. Record labels can take a while, because they have to listen to it and pass it around, and we just wanted to see it do its thing and travel. We also had the creative control over it, where we didn’t have to run anything by anyone else. Everything you see on the record, from every piece of sound to every bit of art was completely decided by us, and that’s a good feeling. It’s a very cool thing too, that it’s directly from us to the world, and it’s cool that in this day and age we can do that. We would like, at some point, to start using it as a proper record label with other projects, and we have a few remixes coming out over the next few months on the label, but it was originally meant to be a vehicle to the get the record out to the world.

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