Robert DeLong is a fresh face in the electronic dance music world. The Seattle native, who currently resides in Los Angeles, has drummed up a buzz with his sentimental lyrics and dance-meets-rock 'n' roll beats -- earning him the reputation of being a “one man futuristic dance party.”
We caught up with DeLong to discuss his debut album, 'Just Movement,' which was released last week on Glassnote Records. He also revealed a fondness for making music in his closet and explained how a Nintendo Wii controller is an intricate part of his live show.
RedBullUSA.com: What is the message behind the new album? Is there a theme to it?
Robert DeLong: A lot of the songs came out of the post-college wanderings, and then an essential part of the album is sort of a theme of evolution -- not just biological evolution but evolution of the creative process.
RedBullUSA.com: Your lyrics raise questions about identity and spirituality. Are those concepts that are really important to you?
Robert DeLong: Definitely. I think those are central to many of my songs. The album has definitely explored lot of those themes. It kind of delves into philosophy and what not, but it maintains its fun dance vibe the whole time. It makes you think about that stuff but you can also party to that if you want to.
RedBullUSA.com: How did you evolve from being in bands to making electronic music?
Robert DeLong: It was a pretty natural progression. I was also working on music. I was always working with my band. I was always writing songs and recording them and over time I was trying to figure out how to play them live. As I started doing that, people started to respond really well to that and I just kind of gravitated towards that. It's a lot easier to be responsible for one person -- yourself -- than five other people in a band and trying to meet up and everything... and splitting the money. It just kind of became what it is.
"I use a Wii-mote to control the effects of my vocals. I use gamepads and an assortment of drum sets and drum pads. I'll swing microphones and stuff up on stage. It's kind of a different live electronic-music experience."
RedBullUSA.com: When you were recording this album, were you listening to anything that inspired you?
Robert DeLong: Definitely. There were a lot of things I was listening to -- as I said this album spanned a long period of time. Certain things that I'm always listening to are Boards of Canada and Radiohead. I grew up in Seattle, where there are a lot of indie singer/songwriters and I've listened to many of those. The album of course has the whole electronic element, which was partially inspired from all of the events that I go to in L.A. all the time.
RedBullUSA.com: Tell us about some of the strange items that you incorporate into your live show...
Robert DeLong: During my live show, I use a lot of different stuff. I use a joystick. I use a Wii-mote to control the effects of my vocals. I use gamepads and an assortment of drum sets and drum pads. I'll swing microphones and stuff up on stage. It's kind of a different live electronic-music experience. As far as the recording aspect, it's all pretty traditional. And I used a lot of MIDI interfaces and things like that.
RedBullUSA.com: 'Global Concepts' is the first single off the album. What's the story behind the song? Was that inspired by anything in particular?
Robert DeLong: There's an element in the song about the universality of the response of dancing to music, which is the most primitive response that humans have to music. That's kind of the essential theme to that song. It's a fun song. It's kind of a minimalist undertone with some Latiny drums and singing.
RedBullUSA.com: Tell us about the concept for the video for 'Global Concepts.'
Robert DeLong: It's me basically performing the song pretty similar to the way that I perform it live. We spread out the instruments throughout this warehouse and used these lights in the warehouse that were all programmed to light the place during different elements of the song. It was filmed in one straight take.
RedBullUSA.com: Where are the strangest places that you've heard your song played?
Robert DeLong: I haven't heard it played in too many strange places. I've worked on songs in strange places though.
RedBullUSA.com: Like where?
Robert DeLong: I'm always working on music in airports. I work a lot in closets. Places that I've lived that haven't had work spaces, I've rigged up areas to work on music in closets.
RedBullUSA.com: Are we talking walk-in closets or whatever you had at the time?
Robert DeLong: Whatever I had at the time. Now I have a walk-in closet, which is pretty nice so it's a pretty good studio. It's pretty cool. It's all painted up and it's got cool lighting. I was able to pretty much put my whole live rig in there and have some monitors. It's a cool work dungeon.
RedBullUSA.com: Is there anything you always have to have on the road with you?
Robert DeLong: Besides my gear, I like always having a chessboard if I can. It's pretty fun.
RedBullUSA.com: Are you challenging people on the road with you to chess games?
Robert DeLong: Yeah, we play a lot of games on the road but I'm not even that great. I need to up my game.
RedBullUSA.com: What do you do when you're not making music?
Robert DeLong: I run a lot. I like bowling a lot. Otherwise music is pretty much what I do. I play beer pong.
RedBullUSA.com: Do you ever take the beer pong on the road?
Robert DeLong: You'd be surprised, there are quite a few bars around the US with beer pong if you can find them. There's a place in Albany called the Putnam Den. They set up beer pong almost every night. It's pretty radical. There are a few here in L.A. too. I also do it in my backyard sometimes.
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