An Evening with The Glitch Mob

on May 03, 2010, 2:21pm

Since the release of MGMT’s Congratulations, Consequence of Sound has cultivated a lively (to say the least) discussion about transformative albums.  As the list grew to contain Weezer’s Pinkerton and the Stone’s Satanic Majesty’s Request, it became obvious these albums debut with polarized reviews. So, when rumors surfaced about a special Glitch Mob Coachella performance to introduce its new album, speculation built, laced with skepticism.

The San-Francisco-based three-some — made up of Justin Boreta, Ed Ma (Edit), and Josh Mayer (Ooah) — has built quite a following with their unique laptop based glitch-hop sound, and they seemed like the perfect act to follow Rusko in the Sahara Tent. But, the Glitch Mob surprisingly debuted their dynamically-produced, creatively-diverse soundscapes. A tabletop covered with laptops had been replaced with keyboards, multiple electronic drum-kits, and seldomly-scene touch screen midi pads. Daringly, Ed Ma (Edit) and Josh Mayer (Ooah) periodically switched between bass and/or guitar.  The always energetic performers were at new heights during tracks (that I would only discover once securing their release) like “We Swarm” and “Fistful of Silence.”  Drink the Sea had been successfully introduced, and the new set-up thoroughly broken in for their upcoming 6-week tour.

The Glitch Mob commenced on its first nationwide headlining tour last Saturday at Chicago’s Double Door. The 473-person venue quickly filled prior to their mid-night set time, with early attendees basking in the percussion provided by Chicago-based duo Meat Number 5.  Ricky Ropesack’s drumming provided a prevailing beat for Big Once to layer mysterious audio samples, and well-versed scratching. The bill was finalized by with the DJ stylings of So-Cal DJs Deru and Free the Robots. Free the Robots delivered a set reminiscent of earlier Glitch Mob. While his attention primarily focused on his mixer or laptop, he kept the crowd involved with random banter and a high-energetic performance. His ability to seamlessly transition between dub, west coast hip-hop, futuristic arrangements, and classic 8-bit sounds, primed the raucous crowd for the highly anticipated debut of the Drink the Sea Tour.

The Glitch Mob arrived at the Double Door nearly six hours early for their midnight start time, and according to their tour manager were still rushed in setting up their equipment. But even with typical Chicago traffic concerns tampering their afternoon, an album to debut to a full crowd, and an unfamiliar stage set-up, the trio seemed relax during their Consequence of Sound interview. Motivation settled in as they hopped on stage and dished out their new material.  With the first few beats of “Animus Vox”, the crowed erupted, and the trio elevated the intensity with a demonstration of their new equipment (see video below).

As the trio explored the entirety of Drink the Sea, the energy remained palpable even as the sounds included the vocally driven “Between Two Points”.  Swan, the group’s vocalist, provides eerily powerful pre-recorded vocals to a track reminiscent of Massive Attack, all without jeopardizing its West Coast roots. As more dance-friendly club bangers were introduced like “Fistful of Silence” and “Drive it Like You Stole It”, the crowd found any available space to let the bass dictate their movements. This led several patrons seeking refuge near the much cooler rear of Double Door.

However, the venue remained to capacity until the set’s conclusion. Even as the 90th minute approached, Boretta and Ooah banged mercilessly on drum kits. The fans were equally as energetic, hanging onto every note of that night’s journey. My skepticism had been erased, The Glitch has found a sound, and is set to invade homes and clubs beginning May 25th.

As 9:30 pm rolled around, and the opening act neared conclusion, I was summoned beneath the stage for a few words with The Glitch Mob prior to their initial Drinks The Seas performance. Boreta, Edit, and Ooah were eager to discuss the evolution of their sound, vocalist Swan, the recording process, and performing their new material live.

With the Double Door stage being so much smaller than the [Coachella] Sahara Tent, how was soundcheck?

Boreta: It’s been pretty cool. It’s been a long day, we were up late last night. And had to get up early in LA to get here today.

Edit: Sound check was kind of long today, it being the first day of the tour. We only had half our equipment here; the other half came with the tour manager on the tour bus. Today was a lot of setting up the equipment, so we could start the tour. After today it should go a lot faster.

It this the first time you had set-up the new gear on such an intimate stage?  Any reason behind ditching the laptops, and including live guitar and bass?

Ooah: I think we just wanted to try new stuff. We had done the laptop thing, and I think we just wanted to do this as musicians.

Boreta: We tried and compose Drink the Sea in a very musical way. The whole time we were writing this record, we planned doing it in a way where we could perform this thing differently.  Not just DJ tracks, but really be able to play this music.

It was courageous pulling this off at Coachella, was the audience anticipated something much different?

Edit: Yah, after Coachella we were asked that by a lot of journalists.  Honestly, we didn’t think ‘We’re tryin’ to pull a fast one on them’ or anything.   Looking back on it, a lot of people said it was a ballsy move stepping in the Sahara Tent and not playing our old DJ stuff.  We just thought ‘This is Coachella, a great place to come out and introduce our new stuff.’

Considering the massive evolution in sound from your early remixes to the organic soundscapes of Drink the Sea, was this sound envisioned when you first met in 2006?

Boreta: When the group all started off we were DJing, and we really couldn’t foresee where were going, but we always wanted to keep pushing ourselves further and further into playing music. We didn’t intend this, but we all had this inside of us. We’ve all done a lot of DJing, starting off with Vinyl, CDjing, then the laptops sets, this was just the next logical step.

Given that you each come from varying backgrounds, how did that translate in the recording studio?

Ooah: There was no real specific process. We just flow really well in the studio, and respect each others’ styles, and the vibes we are creating. It just all came really natural to us. Someone might have a really good idea, and we would try it out, and then someone else would work something in. It was just this really cool rotation. We didn’t work with any rules or specific idea, we just really wanted to express how we were emotionally feeling – discovering our own pallet.

Edit: And technically we all are musically skilled at using the studio as an instrument. Creatively, were just all on the same page, and would just rotate in and out of the studio chair, telling our story.

theglitchmobphotobynolanrudi An Evening with The Glitch Mob

Swan provides an amazing vocal on “Between Two Points”, how did the relationship start?

Boreta: She is actually a dear friend of ours.  We had already finished the instrumental version of that song, which we plan to release sometime soon, and we invited her in to mix some sounds on that album, and she came with these lyrics that just transformed the whole thing. We didn’t plan for it to happen like that, but it came together so well that we just went with it.

Did she work on any of the other tracks?

Boreta: She provided all the vocal bits on the album.

Ooah: But in a much different way. In ‘Between Two Points’ its lyrics,verse, chorus, in the other tracks we really just sample her voice, transforming it and using it more like an instrument.

What were some of the reasons behind creating Glass Air, your own record label, to release Drink the Sea?

Boreta: Now is just an exciting time in the music industry, where with the technology you can release your own album. We were really passionate about having full creative control, and this was the next step in being able to have our vision and seeing it through. To put all of our time, love, and energy into finishing this album and seeing the album brought to the world the way we envisioned.

Now that you are bringing the new sound live, what type of sets can fans possibly expect? Any glitchy remixes?

Edit: It was a really touch engineering project. Conceptually we have recreated all our classics to be played on the new setup. So, we will be playing some of the classics with the new album, but it all sounds like it comes from the same world. While the recorded versions right now don’t.

Ooah: So there will be a good bit of going back and forth.

You each have your own solo projects, any news about what they will be doing while your own the current six week tour?

Ooah: Our focus is totally on the Glitch Mob right now, this album means a lot to us. The solo projects will always be there, whether we are thinking about them now or later. But, right now we are deep in Drinking the Seas.

So, where can fans pick up the record May 25th, any expectations?

Boreta: It’ll be online, and at all major retailers. It will also be available at certain independent record stores like Amoeba.

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