Electro Rainforest Lullaby
Tell me about the new record.
Brian: We’ve been making records and this one we’re making tracks every day, pretty much, and posting them on the computer. We’re always making rhythms, and this one was something that we sort of collected over two years. Yea and this is kind of like, this album we had a lot of different people playing on it too, so this one's kind of like a special one for us definitely. We’re excited about it.
Justin: We mix music all the time, and we’re always posting it and making mixes and all these kinds of things, but this was made over a longer period of time, more specifically for Lindsey who runs the label, which is called Firecracker.
I'm interested in how much of it is live and how much of it is digital.
J: I definitely play digital instruments in a kind of live way, if that makes sense. Like the way someone might play a drum and it’s kind of performative. It’s like using digital instruments like using drum machines or synthesizers, but then once that happens we sculpt it afterward.
B: I think with this record we had lots of improvisational jams that were even acoustic. So a lot of times we’re playing acoustic instruments and then making rhythms, and then kind of sampling them and collaging them afterward.
J: So it's pretty equal if you think about it. It's pretty 50/50 in terms of how much stuff is improvised with acoustics and how much stuff is sequenced or edited in the computer.
I listened to a little bit of it, someone sent me a track and I don't even know, it almost felt like it was from around the world or something, or it felt like tribal. Is that on the nose?
B: We’re interested in basic poly-rhythm kinds of concepts, simple subdivisions of rhythm. Rhythms that are kind of like building blocks for us. Ones that can pop up in places around the world. But I'm sure that's how it comes off as. And there are a lot of people that try to figure out what it sounds like, they think it’s from here or here or here, but we kind of come with the intention of starting from the really most minimal rhythmic structures and branching out from that.
J: Rhythm is just math and patterns, you know? The rhythm breaks down into these little grid structures and those can be super wide-ranging, but they all can kind of interlock. We play with how those grids interlock, and when you start doing that it starts feeling more what people might term ‘tribal,’ but I think that's just by association, not intent. We’re inspired from a lot of music from all around the world.
B: A lot of people say it’s like a global morphing kind of thing. A lot of people say it’s ‘avant garde.’ A lot of times we don't compose with a specific genre or style in mind.
J: Yeah, we’re not like, ‘Oh this is going to be our African song.’
B: We compose more from waves or different kinds of frequency rhythmic patterns.
It sounds almost scientific.
B: It is, in a way. It definitely is in a way.
I loved what you said earlier, how you described it as a collage, because I think what makes it sound so worldly is just the sheer amount of different sounds and instruments and, like you're saying, the rhythms. Can you talk more about that? About the concept of collage?
B: Yeah, I mean we’re playing all kinds of different instruments from acoustic all the way to like coded or computer programing-type instrument things, so when we make tracks we’re starting from a really wide pool, and then a lot of times what our intention is is to make it in a way where you can't really tell where the sounds are coming from, which is a platform for a trance in a way. Basically we’re trying to make it look like a river, where everything comes together as one.
J: I think that with electronic music, and actually all music and all instruments, you hear something and it signifies so much, this sounds like this kind of music or this sounds like this kind of rhythm sounds like house music etc, but I think that it’s fun to play with that a little bit. You can hint at something but then it’s also fun to put something up against it that pulls it completely away from that and so then it becomes a singular collage, and so what I think Brian's saying too is that you do so much of that, that you lose all the individual parts, all the rocks and stones and grass and other things, and you just get to a single thing like a river. You know what I mean? So you're not getting caught up in every single little detail like, ‘oh, that’s snare drum or that’s a synth sound.’ It becomes flattened out and you get to a single image.
B: I guess it's like people don't really want to pay attention to the fact that they're actually listening to music, they want to be more kind of hypnotized or transported and in another place, in a sense.
Above: Justin and Brian, and the album cover for 'Time.'
Do you guys do concerts?
B: Yeah, we play in all different kinds of waves for sure.
J: I would say we don't really do a traditional kind of concert. We tend to play when someone asks us to do something that seems interesting and worth doing, and when we do that it tends to be long and stretched out, so that it’s not like, ‘Here's our concert for 30 minutes and here's our 5 songs that we want you to hear,’ it’s more like creating an atmosphere and a background for people to exist in this space and they can interact with the music as much or as little as they want to.
B: So we might play a festival or a museum or a weird person’s house or events. So sometimes we’ll DJ more kind of party vibes and sometimes more kind of quiet acoustic things, like drumming at a gallery. So it's a range of stuff.
What is your ideal performance situation?
B: I think when we’re playing outside and we’re playing in nature and when we’re playing with heavy technology. We like playing with a lot of technology. You know, like a lot of sound system type stuff. Like a futuristic sound and futuristic-type venue is always nice for us instead of anything else.
J: I think the spaces where most people interact with music are so uninspiring, like whether that's a concert venue or most clubs or bars or whatever, that I think something opposite of that would be wonderful.
It’s almost like a clash between nature and technology, which in a way is sort of like your aesthetic.
J: Exactly. That's another thing, too, is that when we play we’re kind of looking for the same thing as when we are working on music: you want to be inspired and you want to find something new. It’s less of a presentation and more of an exploration.
B: It’s a communication, too. Because I think at times nature can break off and look like knowledge or something or technology or whatever, where we find we can intercommunicate. It's really interesting.
J: It's nice, too, when people can come into a space where they feel very, I don't want to say ‘safe’, but yeah, safe, but also they have no idea what to expect, you know what I mean? Like we had a space on Canal Street and it would be like the most random collections of people there from completely different spaces, ages, whatever, and it’s a little jarring and confusing, like you're not getting something typical that you can sort of recognize, but when you stick with it for a while it creates space for a lot of magic to happen.
Did you do one of the pop-ups on Canal?
J: No, we had a big loft.
B: Our studio was on Canal and Elizabeth for a while, so I think it’s more where we’d always be popped-up.
Did you let people wander in?
B: I mean, we would just work on music a lot so we’d have performances or shows or concerts or we were making a lot of films at the time, so people would kind of just be coming up a lot, yeah.
So you guys do a lot of stuff, you do film and visual stuff as well. Does that play into your music, or how do those two inform each other?
B: They completely inform each other. Basically, I think we’re saying the same thing just in a very different medium. It's just a different sensory limit or boundary.