THIEVERY CORPORATION Member Rob Garza Discusses The Band’s Newest Album, Recording in Jamaica and Much More!
Posted On 03 Feb 2017
Thievery Corporation have collaborated with famed artists like David Byrne, Perry Farrell, The Flaming Lips, Anushka Shankar, Femi Kuti, Seu Jorge, Bebel Gilberto and have been featured on major film soundtracks such as Garden State. They’ve headlined top music festivals, such as Coachella and Lollapalooza, and have influenced a whole generation of electronic producers and DJs. If you add these elements together, you can arrive at only one conclusion: Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, aka: Thievery Corporation.
Since 1996, Garza and Hilton have released 8 studio LP’s, 2 remix collections, 2 DJ mix albums, and continued to perform live on 5 continents. Along their unique musical journey, they have virtually defined an entire sub-genre of electronic music. And now they’re ready to embark on yet another journey with the release of their new album, “The Temple of I & I.”
Longtime fans of Thievery Corporation are keenly aware that the duo has been heavily influenced by Jamaican music. Since their debut LP, “Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi,” the production team has applied a uniquely diverse dub ethos and aesthetic to their music. After paying tribute to bossa nova and easy listening inspirations on their 2014 release, “Saudade,” Hilton and Garza set their sights on the culturally rich and warm musical environs of Port Antonio, Jamaica. There, they dove even deeper into their singular exploration of classic Jamaican sounds for the “The Temple of I & I.”
“The innovation, spirit and power of Jamaican music is a constant source of creative manna for us,” explains Hilton. “On the musical map, Jamaica is an entire continent. We could have spent a year there, soaking up the vibes in the air, and constantly being inspired by the strength and resilience of the people.”
In great anticipation of this exciting new release, and in reflection of an astonishing two decades together, one may be prompted to ask what has been the magic formula behind Thievery Corporation’s great success and what does the future hold from here? Perhaps the answer can be found in Rob Garza’s concluding thoughts: “What inspires us to continue to create this genre of sound is the broad spectrum of collaborators and audience members it continues to draw. We have been extremely privileged to work with artists of all cultural, social and political backgrounds, and our fans display even greater diversity and age differences. The people who have come together through Thievery Corporation are as much an accomplishment as the music we’ve produced to date and will continue to produce in the coming years.”
Learn more about Thievery Corporation in the following All Access interview:
Now that 2016 is over what are some words that come to mind to describe the year for the music, for all of your music, and really your career?
I would say, surprised, in a way that when we started making music I never thought that we would be doing music for 20 years. And so I am pretty surprised that we’ve managed to do it this long. You know, usually a lot of artists, come and go pretty quickly in the music world. Another word would just be grateful, in the fact that we have traveled the world and be doing all this stuff, you know. And proud as well I guess.
Do you think that you have like a secret to staying together all these years and to be making albums and to be inspired year after year to create songs? Do you think you have a secret, the magic for all of that?
There is definitely some chemistry, and how that works is a mystery to myself and Eric. But there is also a certain amount of respect, I think, that we have for each other as friends and artists, that is important. Because without that it’s hard to stay in a career this long. If you don’t really have that you are going to fall apart as artists.
And so, you know, that’s sort of a foundational thing that, you know, in that we’re very patient with our careers. As a friend of mine put it, it’s not about achieving success, it’s about surviving the success. You know, so.
I think that we look at this, Eric likes to call this the bonus round. Like you know, amazing how we created song, and now it’s just all sort of icing on the cake you know, and we just try to enjoy it.
Do you think that your dynamics with Eric have changed over the years and how do you think that they have grown?
I think that they changed over the years because you know, after 20 years together you know there’s this other thing that kind of happens, called life. And you’re not, you’re not, when I started I was 25 and you know, when you’re 25 you have all this time to make music and create. As you get older, you know you have a lot of other things going on in your life. Eric has a bunch of different businesses, as do I, has a family. And so, that makes it more difficult to actually find the time to create and tour as much as needed sometimes, but, you know I think we look at it more, just as challenges, more than anything. But not something negative.
So you’re, next month you’re about to release your eighth studio album, The Temple of I & I. Is it, I mean you’ve kind of talked about this a little bit, is it hard to believe you’ve generated this much music and now here you are, the eighth studio album about to come out?
Yeah, it is pretty wild. I think when we started, I remember, I was 25 and Eric was 30 and Eric was saying, and Eric told me, “I can never imagine doing music at 35.” Famous last words. Yeah, you know it’s been all about the slow burn for us. I like to think of us as the no hit wonder, in the sense that we’re not the band that you know because we had that one hit song that was played all on the radio. People who like our music appreciate the whole catalog, which is a very fulfilling feeling.
Did you approach making this album any differently than you have in the past?
Well, with this record instead of bouncing around to a lot of different genres we wanted to keep it heavily focused on the Jamaican style and reggae influence that is throughout a lot of what we have found. So we really wanted to go down there, to that environment and make a record that really focused on our love for Jamaican music.
I think we were there for two weeks, just about in all. And we were, it was great. The studio is beautiful, it overlooks the beach there in Port Antonio. We were hanging out on the beach in the mornings and then just lock ourselves in the studios from midday til past midnight. Just drinking Jamaican rum and coming up with these tracks and the environment was very inspiring.
How did you go about finding, Raquel Jones is the female Jamaican singer right? That is heavily featured on this album? How did you find her and how did that all come together?
Yeah, well a there’s a friend of ours Cameron, who works down there in the studio and he suggested her to us and we heard her and she sounded amazing. We were like, we have to put her on the record. And we tried her out on a song, we left because we were actually getting our instrumentals down there, so we sent her kind of something that was close to being finished. She sounded amazing, so then we brought her to DC and we did a few vocal sessions and we’ve actually performed a few shows with her now. She may be touring with us in the future, so we are really excited about this.
What do you think about all of the EDM, electronic music out there right now that’s becoming very mainstream and top forty-esque. What do you think about that movement, this growth of this genre of music?
It’s interesting because electronic music has been around for a while and you know, one of the things that a lot of people don’t realize is that Jamaican music and dub music really influenced electronic music. You know, even if you look at, I consider hip hop electronic music, you know it’s made from drum machines and sound boards and turntables. I think that people are focused on sort of mainstream, it’s a bit sugar coated for my taste.
Who do you think out there is doing really, something innovative with their music and who do you really respect and admire out there right now?
The person whose music I really enjoy is a buddy of mine who lives here in San Francisco, Tycho. I really enjoy what he is doing and the sound. I think there’s a lot of good music out there. I enjoy what Bob Moses is doing and a ton of just random stuff that I hear these days that, it’s weird, I get these like suggested playlists and things of artists that I never really hear. So I am not really following artists the same way but I am hearing a lot of different random music that it sounds really good, so.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music or what do hope that fans continue to take away from listening to your songs? I mean we live in a very volatile country, the US especially right now, and I think that people are turning to music now, in my opinion more than ever for fun and to really escape reality, what do kind of hope that people take away from your songs?
Well, you know that I think, that people like to think that we live in this global technologically connected world and stuff but in a way, I think that music in America is very insular, very homogenous and very mainstream, and very corporate in some regards. I like to think that we are doing really touches on a lot of different musical genres coming from a lot of different cultures and countries and languages. So in that sense it is very connected globally. I think in some ways in keeping your ears open you can also keep your mind open and your heart open.
And my final question is, I often find when I listen to your music, I always wonder, what were they thinking about when they put that song together? What was the inspiration behind that sound and that energy coming out of that? Is there a song on The Temple of I & I that you can talk about, maybe elaborate on how it come together, maybe one of your favorites on this record?
Yeah, you know, there are some things that can kind of just, well looking at the whole record, I think there’s some things that just kind of just happen. It’s sketches, then you collaborate with a singer or, one particular song, the song called Love has No Heart. And
it’s just kind of walking around listening to people just talking about their love lives and how, a lot of people going through break ups and things like that, or trying to be with someone, all these things and just kind of, I don’t know, the idea like love has no heart sort of came. It was this thing, it sort of developed, that way was the miracle idea, then there’s this thing with Shanna Halligan who we’ve worked with in the past, and then bringing her to record. Then we brought some string players from up in Seattle to collaborate, and then that’s just one of the many songs. Each song has a different kind of vibes and stories and you know, depending on the track.
Will you be touring a lot with this record soon?
Yes, we are going to be in Europe starting in February for about a month. Then we will be doing some summer stuff here in the states, then eventually probably doing venues during fall and winter here in the states.
You can also listen to the interview here on Soundcloud: