The rise in electronic dance music in recent years has been unparalleled by any other genre. Multi-day EDM focused destination festivals sell out instantly, with artists like Avicii, Calvin Harris and Tiesto riding the wave to filled arenas around the globe. But Los Angeles three-piece The Glitch Mob, performing at the House of Blues this Wednesday, are almost in an entirely different class altogether.
First off, they’re completely independent, which is liberating on many levels. Second, they’ve got a ridiculously dedicated fanbase, one that propelled their latest album, Love Death Immortality, to number 13 on the charts — despite having been made available online for free. Vanyaland caught up with G-Mobber Justin Boreta to discuss all of the above and then some.
Michael Christopher: The new album debuted pretty high on the charts, despite being made available online for free. What do you attribute the fact that so many people wanted a physical — or digital — copy of your music despite the fact that they could get it for nothing?
Justin Boretta: It’s hard to say because we didn’t really expect it to do well on the charts. When we got word that it had hit number one in a couple different spots and 13 overall? We were a little surprised to be honest [laughs]. I will say that having been on the road and touring all over the world and playing this music, it seems like people have a personal relationship with the music and with us too. We’re very available and we have a lot of one on one communication with our fans, in person or online, we always hop down to say hi to fans after the show no matter where we are. I think that people, even though they don’t have to buy the music, still went and came out in numbers because maybe they know that we’re independent backed and dependent on their support and we’re grateful for that.
Being independent, you’ve been able to make that crossover from EDM festivals to the bigger, more diverse stages like Coachella and Austin City Limits. Do you think your appeal to the mainstream has been because you’re so accessible and so involved with your fanbase?
Yeah — absolutely. I think a lot of that comes down to the fanbase and because we’re so interactive with our fans online I feel like there are people that really, really like us. Maybe someone online sends us a message that they’re going through a hard time, we’ll right something personal back to them. We have a really personal relationship with them.
Also, I think that part of it is we don’t fit into any one category as far as these festivals go. The music, it’s electronic music, but it also has elements of rock. So we have the ability to go play EC (Electric Circus) or play Coachella or play Lollapalooza and fit, but we never fit perfectly into any of those because we’re hard to classify.
That kind of touches on what I was going to ask next, in that your music transcends typical EDM in many ways, but still, does it worry you that you’re so closely associated with something that many see as a passing fad as far as how big it is right now?
For us, the thought process really comes back to the music and when we’re writing in the studio we don’t really think about the context. Like, “Yes, we want to play this live,” but what’s happening in the world as far as any industry side of things isn’t really much of a factor. We just kind of do “us” and we always have. We’re almost like a rock band that’s not really affixed to any one particular scene or genre or anything like that.
When you’re constructing a song, how do you decide that it’s going to benefit from having someone come in and guest on vocals as opposed to a strictly instrumental piece?
When we had vocals on this record, we had complete songs; we didn’t these songs with or for vocalists. They really stand on their own because they have their own elements. The vocals are there almost as another piece, not more or less important than the synth hook lines or the way the drums are programmed – it’s just another way to help paint the picture. It’s a cool juxtaposition, and it really comes down to the feeling for us; it’s an intuitive thing based on what the song needs.
It’s interesting that when you do use vocals you don’t do it with a singer in mind or have it a collaborative process. That’s got to make it incredibly difficult for the vocalist to put their own stamp on it.
Absolutely; we’re a super challenging act to work with as far as that goes [laughs]. We actually had vocals ready on Love Death Immortality – like a whole different record existed. It just wasn’t quite good enough; something about it was just off. So it definitely takes a very talented songwriter and lyricist to [work on a Glitch Mob song].
Taking the risks that you have, what artists have inspired you to do that? And I’m not talking the generic, “Who inspired your sound?,” rather what artist did you see in any genre that took chances that made you realize it could be done?
I think if anything, we’re really big Nine Inch Nails fans. Like, you know a Nine Inch Nails song if you hear it, but you don’t really know what they’re going to do, you don’t really know what’s going to happen from album to album. You’ll get a text when a new record is gonna come out and it’s like, “What’s he gonna do?” I have no fucking clue. That’s more where we sit.