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Interview: The Glitch Mob Brings Life Back to EDM

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By Scott T. Sterling

“It’s very right here, right now,” Justin Boreta of the L.A. dance music trio The Glitch Mob said in reference to the EDM world. “People release singles and EPs and remixes, like one a month.”

But not Glitch Mob. They took nearly four years off between their 2010 debut, Drink the Sea and the recently released Love Death Immortality. A definite risk considering the EDM world’s penchant for instant gratification.

“We did something which is pretty uncommon in electronic music, to have some momentum going and stop and go away for a couple of years and then come back and reinvent ourselves in a way more traditional bands might do,” Boreta said. Following their debut, the guys earned a boost of exposure after their remix of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” was featured in the trailer for 2013 film, G.I. Joe: Retaliation

For the Glitch Mob, reinvention meant moving from the sprawling, introspective sound of their debut to more bombastic, arena-ready beats prevalent on the new release.

Drink the Sea was much more of a personal, kind of like a headphone listening experience,” band member Ed Ma said. “After touring that record for a good solid two to three years, we kind of tried to take the best lessons from that experience. Keep the storytelling aspect of Drink the Sea, but try to tell a much grander and epic story that was going to translate better in a live environment.”

Adding, “The main difference between the last one and [Love Death Immortality] is that this one’s just much more epic.”

The band is genuinely excited to talk about the process behind making the new full-length, which includes two collaborations – “Our Demons” and “I Need My Memory Back” – with Aja Volkman of Nico Vega, who’s married to Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds.

“She actually tracked them in the back of the Imagine Dragons tour bus while her kid was asleep in the other bunk, just through her Macbook Pro laptop microphone,” Ma revealed. “She sent it back to us, and obviously the recording sound, quality wise, was absolutely terrible. Dan [Reynolds] was like, ‘Baby, let me help you record this,’ because I think he knew that the sound quality wasn’t so hot. But she was like, ‘No, I’m gonna do it myself.’ It sounded really bad, but the performance and the mojo, we knew the magic was there.”

Releasing the new album on the band’s own label, Glass Air Records, The Glitch Mob is a proudly independent entity, pushing things forward without the muscle of a major label behind them.

“Everyone wears a lot of hats,” Boreta said of the band’s indie status. “We record, mix, we create our own live show. We work on our own merch. We have our hands in videos and album cover design and all that stuff. So it’s a lot of work, but we love every second of it. We just get to make art with our friends, so we’re totally happy.”

With a packed touring schedule that kicks off March 11 in Portland, ME, and includes stops at festivals like Ultra, Coachella and the Governors Ball, the conversation inevitably returns to The Glitch Mob’s stage shows, a truly visceral live experience that’s closer to a rock concert than your typical hands-in-the-air DJ set.

“There’s not a whole lot of live electronic music right now. It’s a very DJ based thing…we just wanted to try something different,” Boreta insisted of the band’s three-man attack. “We just thought, ‘Hey, let’s just see what happen if we collaborate and actually play electronic music.’ So for us creatively, it’s been a fun thing to be out there trying to figure out how [to] actually perform this music live without instruments because the stakes are high and because the megaphone is on 11, it’s been a really exciting time right now.”

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