The Glitch Mob Spent a Month in Joshua Tree
The Glitch Mob
There is a kind of non-specificity to the way the guys in The Glitch Mob speak. They spend a lot of our 35 minute interview talking about things like instilling their music with emotion and being channels for a higher power to work through and the importance of connecting to their fans. After the the talk, you feel like you haven't really gotten to know the three members of the group - Justin Boreta, Edward Ma and Josh Mayer - on a personal level.
But perhaps that says everything one needs to know about the the L.A.-based electronic trio. These guys are interested in the big picture: the importance of making music with intention, of making music that means something, the concept of music as a spiritual practice. With their sophomore LP Love Death Immortality, out today, the group is once again going for the grandiose.
The guys, who all live in Silverlake and go by the stage names edIT (Ma), Ooah (Mayer) and Boreta (that would be Boreta) look like classic eastsiders with their perfect fades, dog tags, beanies and snapbacks. Although the music they make is massive and really fucking loud - especially during their live sets - there is a thoughtfulness to their sound that distinguishes it from being simply mindless party bangers, although they're quick to point out that they're cool with party bangers too.
"In electronic music," Mayer says, "there's a lot of cynical music or skepticism or party heavy sounds, or sarcasm."
"And there's nothing wring with that either," says Ma. "we're not trying to take away from that."
"There's a time and place for everything," says Mayer.
This wax on wax off sense of zen is a defining characteristic of Glitch Mob mentality. They're not judging anyone in the sprawling EDM community, but with their core values worn on the sleeves of their leather jackets, they do indeed seem to be apart from it. Tonight at Sonos Studio, during a listening party for the new album, Ma repeats a comment he hard about the group "existing on their own planet." They're not part of the trap scene or the club scene or the warehouse party underground. They're popular, but not trendy. Earnest instead of ironic.
The trio formed in L.A. in 2006, played some of their first shows at Burning Man and were around for the early days of the beat scene. (Ma was one of the original resident DJs at Low End Theory.) They've eschewed more than one major label offer (citing a desire to maintain creative freedom) and have upcoming gigs at Coachella, Miami's Ultra and New York's Governor's Ball.
Ma and Boreta in Joshua Tree
Photo courtesy of Magnum PR
They named the new album Love Death Immortality because those are the topics it addresses. The big themed LP was written to be "epic" and designed to be played in front of massive crowds, a goal that came after touring Drink the Sea, a headphones LP that didn't always translate to big ass shows.
That tour lasted almost three years and included multiple swings through the U.S., Europe and Australia. When the tour wrapped in 2011 the guys were exhausted and wanted a place to collectively reboot and work on new music. In the fall of 2011, they rented a place in the mystical-minded musicians mecca of Joshua Tree and took to the desert. Internet and cell reception were patchy. Made of rock and glass, their rustic cabin, Boreta says "felt like we were living in a Burning Man camp." It was perfect.
"We weren't taking drugs or anything out there," Boreta continues. "We were sober the whole time. The desert is so weird that we didn't need mushrooms, with the coyotes running around and just looking at the sky."
The Glitch Mob, Mayer, Ma and Boreta, at Sonos Studio
The three nature enthusiasts set up a laptop studio in the house and collected field recordings from trash they found in the desert. Friends visited on the weekends, but it was mostly just the three of them. They agree it was a period of self-reflection, not all of it pleasant. After a month, the guys left the desert refreshed and with the seeds of Love Death Immortality written. It took them another two years to complete the LP. One song went through 263 versions before it was finished.
Independently released, Love Death Immortality is at once massive and refined - a throttling bass sucker punch with enlightened tendencies. "Everyone has felt the emotions on this album, the aggression, the anger, the light, the darkness," Ma says. "When we come to the table to make Glitch Mob tunes, we are really trying to tap into the root of those feelings and emotions that everyone has and figure out a way to convey them."
Whatever they're doing, it's working. In 2012, Drink the Sea helped a fan recover after a serious snowmobiling accident. At tonight's listening party, Mayer tells the story of soldier who was stationed in Iraq and wrote the group saying that their track "Between Two Points" was the only thing that kept him from killing himself during his deployment. The guys interact heavily with their listeners, monitoring their social media diligently and noting that the fans are as much a part of the Glitch Mob as they themselves are.
"We," Ma says, "are merely the facilitators that tell everyone's story.'
Don't forget to check our constantly-updated Los Angeles Concert Calendar
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.