San Francisco-based musician, Rob Garza, holds a legacy that will surely outlast the test of time. As a founder of the international music group, Thievery Corporation, Garza was at the forefront of electronic music movement many years ago, and after decades of accolades, he still remains as a trusted tastemaker as his genre-defying music continues to resonate within listeners around the world. By fusing elements of dub, trip hop, reggae, and bossa nova with an electronic backbone, he’s created his own lane that has inspired other artists to follow in his footsteps without regard to the status quo. Now as he continues on his journey as a solo DJ/producer, Garza explores new sonic frontiers in dance music, while also starting his own label, Magnetic Moon Records, with his debut Palace of Mirrors EP, due out next Tuesday, March 10th.
In celebration of Garza’s new EP, we sat down with him to discuss the release, how music is a type of transportation, why he returns to Burning Man year after year, how the thriving electronic music scene is a double-edged sword, what’s next for his solo career/Thievery, what he likes to drink (of course!), and more. Read the full interview after the jump.
Gotta Dance Dirty: So we have a first question tradition here at GDD – what do you like to drink?
Rob Garza: Mezcal, Papa Diablo
GDD: Sounds like some great picks. So let’s get right into it – you have a new 4-track solo EP due out at the end of this month. What can you tell us about the release?
Rob: Yes, the first one is called Palace of Mirrors. It has 4 original tracks, 2 featuring Indian vocalist, Vasuda Sharma, and another featuring Sutja Guiterrez from Spain. There are also 2 remixes – one by Psychemagik and the other by Nadastrom. The EP has a deep/tech house feel with worldly, and otherworldly elements thrown in.
GDD: In terms of your artistry, were you hoping to accomplish anything in particular with the EP?
Rob: I love electronic music and love collaborating with different artists. Usually when it comes to making music. I start creating and then the tracks lead me. I had this one track pretty close to being finished, and then I was traveling in India and I imagined a female voice on top. So I asked my friend from Bombay Dub Orchestra if he knew any great singers that he could link me up with, and he introduced me to Vasuda. “Blue Agave Fields” from the EP started as a song on acoustic guitar. I collaborated with Sutja, he contacted me via Soundcloud. I DJ a track that he sings on in some of my sets. So he said he was interested in collaborating. The process varies from track to track.
GDD: You mentioned that you imagined a female voice on top of that one track. Do you often find yourself hearing the music that you want to create in your head?
Rob: As I create I start to hear it. I very rarely have a whole idea of a track from the beginning. I usually feel a vibe and then start to follow that path.
GDD: I see. How does your creative process differ from solo projects to Thievery Corporation?
Rob: With Thievery its more of a collaborative process. Usually when me and Eric do a track, it usually begins with the both of us in the studio. He’ll be playing bass and I’ll be on guitars and keys. We just experiment with different grooves and start throwing on beats and layers of sound.
GDD: Awesome, I figured it may have been something along the lines of that. I’ve found that your music has a unique spiritual depth. Has spirituality influenced your music in any way? If so, how?
Rob: For me, music is a type of transportation and has the ability to transcend our ordinary reality. I always love music that makes you feel high. That’s the type of music I usually strive to create.
GDD: Well it seems like you’ve been able to accomplish that time and time again!
Rob: I try!
GDD: So you’re known to frequent Burning Man, often playing at sound camps across the playa – most recently, Robot Heart with Thievery. What does Burning Man mean to you? Why do you find yourself returning?
Rob: I love it. I think it was one of the most unique experiences on the planet. I always say trying to describe Burning man to someone who has never been is like trying to take a picture of the moon with your phone. To me, it shows the depth of peoples’ imagination and what we can accomplish artistically and as a community when we put our heads together. It’s hard to not keep going back!
GDD: Great answer. I’d have to agree as well. I know I’ve kept you for a bit, so I’ll wrap it up with just a couple more questions. As a pioneer of the electronic music movement, what are your thoughts on the thriving scene today?
Rob: I think it’s great. Electronic Music has grown incredibly, and like everything else that has great points and not so great points. The things that we can express now days is pretty amazing and the fact that so many people are able to realize their creative potential. I mean you look at something like photography, you don’t have to have a darkroom or photography experience to take a great shot. Same thing with electronic music. More people now than ever can create electronic music, but at the same time, sometimes technology allows more people to create more bad music. It’s a double edge sword.
GDD: Very true. it’s a double edged sword that isn’t going anywhere, so it’s on us to cope with it in a positive way.
Rob: I agree
GDD: So other than your EPs, what’s next for your solo work? What’s next for thievery?
Rob: Oh yeah, after this EP, I have another single where I’ve collaborated with my friend Neighbour form Vancouver. It’s a track called Your Calling featuring Stee Downes. I’m pretty stoked about that. Also, we Thievery are heading to Jamaica to record a new album. hopefully It’ll be finished and out later in the year.
GDD: Amazing. really looking forward to all of your new music! Hopefully we’ll be able to catch you or thievery live in the coming months. Thanks again for your time
Rob: Thank you , have a good one!