Tapped as a ‘2013 Artist To Watch’ by the likes of MTV, Billboard and VIBE, Robert Delong has been generating a strong buzz with “Global Concepts,” the first sin
Tapped as a ‘2013 Artist To Watch’ by the likes of MTV, Billboard and VIBE, Robert Delong has been generating a strong buzz with “Global Concepts,” the first single from ‘Just Movement.’
Now you’ll get the chance to see the EDM performer live at RIR this weekend as part of the .
RVA Mag’s John Reinhold caught up Delong ahead of this weekend’s performance and check out below the interview for a chance to win tickets for yourself!
You music seems to live somewhere between indy electronica and EDM Dance music. What has really influenced your overall sound?
In the early 2000s I listened a lot Seattle indie-pop acts like Death Cab Cutie, Modest Mouse, Pedro the Lion, and Jeremy Enigk. This segued directly into playing in indie bands in college, and writing and recording a lot of similarly flavored music on my own. I was always something of a computer nerd, and so spent a lot of time focussing on electronic production techniques. In 2009 my now girlfriend took me to a rave east of Lost Angeles, and though I was leary of house music before this, I was taken aback by the hypnotic qualities of listening to loud and repetitious music in a communal setting, and how a sort of hive mind attitude comes out of this, and immediately went home and started making dance tracks.
How important do you feel your vocals are in your music. You seem to really enjoy the live aspect of singing, is this something you knew you wanted to incorporate from the beginning?
Coming out of a songwriter background, I really value the ability of the human voice to create emotional stories in the mind of the listener, and I knew that singing would always be a big part of whatever kind of music I made. Pop music has an uncanny way of communicating ideas succinctly via lyrics and melody, and I love the connection that singing creates between the performer and the audience.
Your song “Long way down” has a pop kinda feel to it. How did the creation of this song in particular happen?
Long Way Down was the first foray into rediscovering my love for more traditional pop songwriting and shaking some of the arrangement constraints of dance music, and I think doing something like that at a groovy, slower hip hop tempo works really well. I cowrote this song with Evan Bogart and Cameron Forbes, both of whom are pop songwriters, and it was my first successful attempt at writing with others. I find that it can be a good way to distill my ideas into digestible chunks.
Of course most people are going to ask you about your setup. I know you use a lot of midi interments and live drums, whats your most used device and whats you favorite?
I use a whole array of midi controllers, game controllers (wii remotes, joysticks, gamepads etc.) and acoustic percussion and drum set, and I find my time almost equally divided between all of these things on stage. Livid made me a custom midi controller with knobs, buttons, and sliders that I think of as kind of the centerfold controller which often controls volume, effects, and cues some track starts and the like, so I think that is probably my favorite piece of gear, in a way.
Are there any new elements your looking to ad on to your shows in the future? Specifically wondering about your use of video and lighting?
Video has become a rather integral component of my show over the last year. My video guy, Mick McAdams, has done an amazing job of arranging a dynamic live video show that incorporates nearly a dozen fish-eye lens cameras so the audience can see intimately what I am doing on each controller, and graphic visuals that my performance almost directly triggers. We just recently started integrating midi controlled lighting as well, though this is still in it’s infancy as of yet.
What other kind of one man bands have you seen? We have been a fan of That One Guy and Zach Deputy for some time here. Do you find that audiences react differently to people that perform so many parts themselves that in some way it becomes its own performance art?
I’ve seen a lot of one-man acts crop up in the last few years, ranging from the Kite String Tangle and Mystery Skulls (two heavily electronic solo performers that sing as they perform) to live-looping acoustic acts, and I think that audiences tend to be more transfixed and in awe of the one-man band, because of the element of multi-tasking and utilizing a range of talents. There is a great interview of Jim Morrison something like 40 years ago where he predicted this sort of solo electronic performance as the “future of music,” and I think he nailed it right on the head. It is interesting how people decide which parts to perform live, when any instrumental element could be either performed or in prerecorded tracks, and in this way I find it to be much more associated with performance art than traditional “musicianship”.
Our magazine (Rvamag.com) is very design oriented so I have to ask you what role design plays in your media?
From the outset I have always been a fan of bold, graphical content, and the live show heavily relies on the sort of iconography that comes from repeating and evolving simple, flat shapes and colors. I think this aesthetic makes a lot of sense in the context of my music, being a sort of bridge between rigid, cold electronic production and a more organic acoustic approach.
Your playing in Richmond, VA for Big Field Day, have you been to Richmond before?
I have not been to Richmond before, but I am looking forward to it!
When not making music or performing what else are you into?
I spend most of my free time away from music either hanging around at bowling alleys or bars talking about music, and running or watching “The X-Files.”