10 Questions with ... Robert DeLong
September 28, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
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Robert DeLong has achieved significant success as an electronic musician. His new album "In The Cards" debuts at #1 on the Alternative New Artist Chart today. His song "Long Way Down" reached #3 on the Alternative airplay chart and just debuted at Hot AC with additional airplay picking up at Top 40.
DeLong started as a drummer for indie rock bands but added more electronic elements to his compositions following his exposure to their use at raves. DeLong is notable for using video-game peripherals, such as a Wii remote and a joystick, connected to a MIDI interface, to modify his sound. His sound has been described by Wired Magazine as, "A merger of electronic dance music, alt rock, and vocals into tracks that are poppy enough to make you move but dissonant enough to be interesting."
1) Hi Robert! Where does this interview find you? What's on your agenda today besides our interview?
I'm in the middle of putting the final production touches on the album, and will be preparing the tunes for mixing very soon.
2) For those not as familiar with you and your music, how did you get your start in the live game as a DJ and electronic innovator?
My dad was a drummer so I start playing drums at an early age, mostly because they were around the house. That led to taking drum lessons, which led to playing in jazz band, marching band, and my own pop punk bands. I was a computer nerd all the while, so I began to make electronic music. I went to school, graduated with a degree in audio engineering and production, and began to gig. While I was playing with and recording bands I was consistently writing and producing my own tunes.
Most of the songwriting started as experimentation with various sounds, but at some point it coalesced into a sort of electro-indie hybrid thing. From there I met my girlfriend Heidi, who brought me to my first rave, so I sort of fell into dance music, and that element was immediately integrated into the milieu. I was a super MIDI-nerd, so as I started performing I constantly added new, weird controller elements.
3) You recently released "The Long Way Down" EP which is different from your previous works. What did you learn between albums that you wanted to apply with the EP and your new release "In The Cards"?
I think the EP sounds a lot less raved out, and is a little bit more song-oriented as opposed to dance music oriented. It's more traditional in some ways, and more wild in others. I think, sonically, it's a lot more consistent in tone than anything I had released up to this point, and I think the album will reflect that as well.
In general, the EP showed me how to get weird in the cracks of something that is arranged in a quite traditional way. Also, I've just collected more and more production tricks and skills, and have learned to utilize other people's ears and opinions in order to achieve good recordings faster.
4) During your live shows, there are so many moving parts which make it so interesting and visually appealing. Your live shows include a robotic narrator, new-and-improved hypnotic visuals and what seemed like an endless setup of noisemakers and instruments. Pretty wild stuff! You are also notable for using video-game peripherals, such as a Wii remote and a joystick, connected to a MIDI interface, to modify your sound. What has been your most memorable show thus far and why?
One of my favorites was playing Splendor in the Grass in Australia - it was my first big show not in America, and it was amazing to see the connection of fans and concert-goers on the other side of the world.
5) Who are your influences, past and present?
Dave Bazan, Radiohead, Boards of Canada, Brian Eno, early Death Cab, Pink Floyd, the Talking Heads, Paul Simon, Squarepusher, various techno and techhouse artists, and Hoagie Carmichael.
6) Please tell us about your recording process? Is it sometimes difficult to communicate the live energy into your studio recordings?
This is something I've struggled with all along the way, but truthfully it is impossible to totally inject that energy into the recordings. Of late I've been trying to use more production tricks to keep you on your toes, so that the whole thing seems fun the entire time.
7) The title track to your EP, "The Long Way Down" is a big hit at Alternative radio and now doing well at Hot AC and Pop. What was your inspiration for that song?
The sentiment that everyone will die, so don't be a dick about stuff that doesn't matter, if you don't have to.
8) I hear you recently collaborated with the guys from Youngblood Hawke as well as MNDR. Do you enjoy the collaborative process? Is there anyone else you would love to work with in the future?
I have really enjoyed collaborating, in addition to collaborating with other artists, I have enjoyed working with other producers and writers of late, and I find that working with others helps me to arrive at solid songwriting and production conclusions more quickly. I want to work with Donato Dozzy and write some super-minimal slow-evolving techno-inspired cumbia.
9) Who is in your current playlist? Any artists, musicians or genres we might be surprised to find in there?
I still listen to The War on Drugs release from last year too much. I've been listening to some Dub Phizix lately, and I love Dawn of MIDI.
10) What's on tap next for you, Robert? What are you most excited about in 2015?
This album will be done soon, which is what I'm most excited for right now. Then I will tour, until death. See you there!
*Special thanks to Nicole DeRosa who conducted this interview.