Thievery Corporation

Thievery Corporation are bringing their smooth, evocative and eclectic sounds to Adelaide and they’re bringing a live band! Playing at the Womad Festival this March as well as touring around Australia. HiFi Way: The Pop Chronicles had a chat to one half of the duo, Rob Garza.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Adelaide. Womad is quite a diverse and eclectic festival. Are you looking forward to performing there?
Yes, we haven’t been back in a long, long time and it will be great to be part of the Womad Festival. Womad has such a great line up and music from all over the world. Actually it’s a festival that I’m looking forward to checking out some of the other artists and discovering new music.

Have you been to Adelaide before?
Yeah we have. We’ve been ages ago. I think we did a DJ tour and we stopped through there so it’s been a minute but we’re really looking forward to it?

This tour you’re bringing a live band to Australia. What can we expect with these shows having a live band?
Well basically you know we have a bunch of different singers from all parts of the globe. We have as many different styles of music and the show jumps off the page I think people are expecting a kind of a loungey chill out show but it’s really something very different. It’s very energetic, very vibrant and really infectious.

Is there a difference playing in a band as opposed to you and Eric playing in a club?
Eric and I really don’t DJ so much anymore. We prefer a deeper experience with the whole band. The live shows for us are a lot more fun than DJing. It’s great to be playing our own music first of all and then also performing with great musicians. Being able to roll through our old catalogues is a lot more preferable to being behind DJing decks.

Do you find there is a lot more energy when you have a live band and being in a live environment?
Totally yeah! The audience response is something that you feed off as a performer so I feel like it is really reciprocal because you know the musicians, the audience and everybody is sort of in sync. You have the lights and visuals and it hits you on a different level than if were just DJing.

I really like this new album. It has a great vibe. I like the Reggae feel. Where did the inspiration for the sound of the new album come from? What was the process of getting that kind of feel?
Basically Reggae Dub has been the foundation to our sound since we’ve started. It’s always been an element on all of our records but on this one in particular Eric was travelling in Jamaica and he was staying there with his fiancé and they learned there was a recording studio there. So Eric called me up and said “How you feel about making a recording an album in Jamaica?” We’ve never recorded outside of Washington DC so I jumped at the opportunity and we went down to Port Antonio and sort of set up in the studio. Locked ourselves in. In the morning we would go swimming and hang out and then in the afternoon we’d get lunch and a bunch of Jamaican Rum. We locked ourselves in til about 2am and you know the sessions were very fruitful and sensitive.

Its sounds like the perfect scenario to record an album!
Yeah you know, there’s another thing that they had this, instead of like a wall it was a glass wall that you could see right out to the sea and it’s so beautiful that you didn’t feel like you were in like a dungeon like you do in a lot of recording studios. You could see the sea and sun as you were recording so that was a highlight as well.

And did that give you some inspiration to create a certain sound as well?
Yeah well I think you know any sources of inspiration whether they’re visual or artistic help. For us I think too the change of environment was a big source of inspiration as well.

So you have been together for over 20 years. What keeps the process going to create new music and different sounds after all this time together?
We just love recording music. I think it’s really what’s in us and Thievery Corporation has been the perfect vehicle to do it with. We’ve always admired producers and we started off being a production duo. That meant we had the opportunity to work with lots of different artists for instance, we worked with people such as David Byrne, The Flaming Lips, Femi Kuti or Bebel Gilberto. We’ve mixed for people such as Sarah McLachlan, The Doors and all sorts of different artists so you never really feel limited like you’re just a rock band or something because we consider ourselves more producers as we have the ability to work with a wide variety of people.

Are there any artists of today that you would be keen to work with?
A lot of the people that we wind up working with are people who aren’t necessarily household names or anything like that. They’re the kind of people we run into and we find interesting so we might say “hey come in the studio and let’s try to get some jamming going”.

Do you listen to other genres or is this kind of style you listen to when you want to listen to music?
Yeah totally, I think one of the things if you check out our record collection there’s everything from punk to reggae to Indian music to all different sorts of styles. Also Bossa Nova, Jazz and I think that’s one of the common things that Eric and I have in common that we listen to a lot of different styles of music.

Does that help with creating a new album to get that influence from what you listen to create new sounds for your next albums?
Yeah I think that it’s always filtering the wide variety of influences is coming through our music and when we have to start and create an album there’s a lot to choose from. We are just fans of music in general and always seem to go back and visit the past because there’s so much that’s overlooked. At any given time there’s so much great music that was never heard. When you go back you can discover it and that becomes influential in what you’re creating.

Is there a time when you think I don’t want to listen to music or I don’t want to create any music? I just need a break from it?
Yeah there are plenty of times where I don’t want to listen to music. I think you know in this day and age there’s so much music everywhere. You know the iPod and the iPhone came out like over ten years ago. Music’s everywhere. Every store, every block and like everybody’s a DJ so a lot times I love just carrying nothing, for sure like at the beach. One of the nicest things was that I was on a beach and there was no music because it seems that every beach I go to with one beach next to another beach club battling it out where you can’t relate to or even hear yourself think. So yeah I can definitely appreciate silence.

Interview by Anastasia Lambis

Catch Thievery Corporation on the following dates plus WOMADelaide on Monday 12 March…

Thievery Corporation Tour Poster

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