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Downbeat Electronica Music With a Lounge Aesthetic

Thievery Corporation

Downbeat Electronica Music With a Lounge Aesthetic

Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, who make up the innovative ensemble group called Thievery Corporation, will be online Thursday, Dec. 21, at 2 p.m. ET to discusss their music, latest CD, ongoing projects and their four upcoming live, full band shows at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club.

Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.

Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, who make up the innovative ensemble group called Thievery Corporation, will be online Thursday, Dec. 21, at 2 p.m. ET to discusss their music, latest CD, ongoing projects and their four upcoming live, full band shows at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club.

Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.


Sterling, Va.: Thievery Corp., has such a talent for redeveloping groove in their music by breaking down beats and reconstructing music with accents in the time signatures, would you look to step out of bossa and samba sound and try that with classic disco grooves, jazz, or rock like you did with David Byrne's dance on Vaseline? could it make an album?

Eric Hilton: I feel like we've already do this in some ways. We've remixed the Doors for instance. We have songs like Warning Shots, Lebanese Blonde and Revolution Solution, which are essentially dubbed-out rock songs.


Zagreb, Croatia: Hi!

I`ve been at your concerts both times you were in Zagreb and they were really great shows. I only resent you that you didn`t play for more than an hour and fifteen minutes and that is much too less for a band with your repertoire. The crowd was wild and wanted to hear you play for as long as you would stay and you stayed that short. I only mean to say that that is not the way and can you answer why is it like that?


Rob Garza: We love Zagreb! I believe the first ime, the police closed us down and we couldn't play longer. We definitely have more music and were sad we didn't get a chance to play longer. The second time it was part of a festival and the organizers tell you how long you can play. We can't wait to come back. Hopefully next time we'll be able to play longer.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hey guys, have you considered working with Zero 7, Corinne Bailey Rae, or Rodrigo y Gabriela?

Looking forward to Thursday's show!


Rob Garza: I don't think we really thought about collaborating with any of them. Usually we have a song created and then we start to think about collaborations.


Bethesda, Md.:


I just wanted to say I really dig your music! Being an Indian-American I particularly liked "Satyam shivum Sundharam." Is this a song you all wrote or is it a cover? Also do you have an Indian singer in the band who sings this song or someone else?

Rob Garza: That song was sung by Gunjan. She just started singing this track over a sketch we had, and we both immediately fell in love with what she was singing. she has an incredible voice and we are very inspired by Indian music. It is a cover song. The original is also extremely beautiful.


Santa Cruz, Calif.: Rob and Eric,

What's your take on the recent trend of debuting new music in commercials?

Eric Hilton: I don't really like that idea. I can understand why people would do it, but I'd hope there are other more creative ways to debut a song.


Bethesda, Md.: You have such a range of vocal talet in your live shows. Where did you find your singers? Did they approach you or were they recommended to you for colloboration? I know some are local and some are not, i.e., Loulous is from D.C., Sleepy Wonder is from Jamaica. What about the two other freestylers, Sista Pat, and the others?

Eric Hilton: Roots and Zee (See-I, and Sista Pat are DC locals. So is Vernie Varela. There's a lot of talent right here in our backyard.


Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Lounge/electronica/dance is a small niche in terms of the overall music industry. Personally I have gravitated to alternative music as mainstream pop/rock/hip-hop seems to be played out and over-commercialized. I currently have your debut CD in my car's 6-disc rotation and it sounds as fresh as anything put out today. What do you think it would take to expand your audience or is becoming more mainstream not a priority? What is your view on how music overall is currently marketed, especially given the failures of the current retailing format given recent bankruptcies (such as Tower Records)?

Rob Garza: Our audience has been expanding since we started. I think the wonderful thing is that this has really happened via word of mouth. I never thought we would be able to have this kind of career ten years ago, but it just seems to keep growing. It's definitely a complex time for the music industry, i think everybodys trying to predict the future, but our job is to keep making music we love.


Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Saw the fab concert last night -- but what might I ask are you two actually doing back there? Spinning a little? Adjusting the sound?

Rob Garza: Checking our email. No we're triggring samples, spinning tracks, playing keys and playing beats on drum machines. We definitely want to keep some of the electronic elements of the production in order for the music to retain its depth.


New York, N.Y.: You guys are amazing. I almost fainted from the beauty of your last show in NYC.

So, what lead to to get more involved in Brazilian music and how was your tour? Did you go to Brazil, and how were you received there?


Eric Hilton: Thanks. We just played in Rio and Sao Paulo. The reception was wonderful and the experience for me of seeing those places for the first time was amazing.

Brazilan music is a personal favorite for Rob and me. In fact, in many ways it brought us together.


Washington, D.C.: Out of all the mix CDs you've done, do you have a favorite?

Rob Garza: I still love the dj kicks comp we did. I remember when we made that and it was really exciting choosing the tracks and putting the mix together. It was also right in the hey day of the trip hop-electronic movement.


Dublin, Ireland: Attended your concert in Dublin during last year -- It was the best I ever attended. Have you any plans to play Dublin again in the future? It will sell out fast and I want to get tickets early. My wife has promised she will surprise me with a trip to Washington/ESL in the future -- can you tell when is the best time to visit in 2007.

Keep up the good work.


Eric Hilton: Thanks. That was our one and only time and Dublin and we were blessed with hot, sunny weather. Dublin is very cool and I'd like to come again soon.

as DC goes, May through July is a good time. August is absurdly hot (but I love it) and the fall is beautiful.


The District: Hello. How was working with Bebel Gilberto? I love her music! I love you your music!

Rob Garza: Bebel is a great friend of ours. She is truly talented and a wonderful person.


San Francisco, Calif.: Hi,

Do you still use Acid software to create most of your music? Thanks!

Rob Garza: No these days we're using Apple Logic to do all of our sequencing and production.


Harrisburg, Pa.: I love your name. Ever fear someone might steal it?

Rob Garza: I think our lawyer filed the proper paper work. I don't think we need to worry about it at this point.


Atlanta, Ga.: What artists have you found from the past that you think are among the most obscure yet brilliant and unappreciated?

Eric Hilton: Dorothy Ashby, a harp player that did a lot of experimentation with jazz and rock, was amazing.

Moondog and Sun Ra are pioneers to be sure.

Mystic Moods Orchestra did some great stuff.

Many Italian composers were pushing the limits. You can check out the Easy Tempo CD that ESL put out to hear some of that.


Greenbelt, Md.: I have a dream: Thievery Corporation collaborates with Natacha Atlas, the former TGU vocalist/dancer and diva extraordinaire (and onetime D.C. resident). You remixed the song "Le Reveur" featuring her vocals. Any chance you might team up in the studio?

Rob Garza: You never know, She is a great vocalist. you never know or can imagine the people you wind up collaborating with. When we started I never imagined that one day we would collaborate with David Byrne or Perry Farrell.


Washington, D.C.: Do feel that there was a dramatic change in your public exposure and fan base following appearance on the "Garden State" soundtrack? If so, how has it affected you?

Eric Hilton: I don't think that things have dramatically chnged since that soundtrack came out, but the awareness of Lebanese Blonde certainly grew. It definetely helped.


McLean, Va.: Hi guys, it's Matt Howard.

I have a copy of Rob's dust Galaxy, and it seems a real departure for you ... can you comment?

Rob Garza: Hey Matt, yeah its definitely a departure. the project is about exploring some other musical territory. There are a whole other set of influences, that don't really fall into what we're doing Thievery-wise.


Lancaster, Pa.: Thievery's independence has always inspired me. Right now I am releasing music both through a label, and on my own. For new artists, do you feel a label's help is important, or do you suggest forging one's own path independently? Also ... how has the growth of digital-download vs. physical music sales changed how ESL operates?

Rob Garza: For us it has been a real adventure and very rewarding to accomplish what we have independently. It has been sometimes very stressful for example we had a distrubitor go out of business, owing us a lot of money...but the fact that its our vision and we haven't had to compromise it. We don't have to answer to bosses and can pursue whatever interests us. I think if we had signed to a major, we would not exist today as a group.


Washington, D.C.: How much are you planning on changing up the set lists for this string of shows at 9:30?

Eric Hilton: We'll be doing an almost identical set each night. There may be an extra song or two on Friday and Saturday b/c we can play later. I hope people will enjoy the same set regardless.


Washington, D.C.: Enjoyed the show Wednesday night, eclectic set covering your world music blending.

The live sitar really adds texture to your compositions.

Will the same songs be performed each night?

Are the shows being filmed for a movie/DVD release?


Eric Hilton: Thanks. There is a plan for a DVD in the future. It will most likely contain footage from many shows all over the world.

The sitar is truly and incredible musical instrument and we can seem to get enough of it.


Boulder, Colo.: I saw that you guys play guitar during you concerts. Do you play both guitar and bass on your CDs or do you have somebody step in for those? Also, we are dying to see you guys and other ESL artists in Boulder, why don't you play the West Coast that often?

Rob Garza: On the albums we play everything except horns, percussion or sitar. That's the fun part of creating this music, coming up with all these different musical ideas and picking up instruments and recording. We definitely wanna go back to Boulder. We had a great time there last time.


Washington, D.C.: Your show last night was excellent! You and everyone on stage with you did a great job.

I really enjoy your unique sound. I'm curious, what are your musical influences and how did you come to bring together all of the diverse sounds from around the world?

Eric Hilton: That's a hard one to answer, but I'll try with a list of some favorites:

Luiz Bonfa and Maria Toledo
Jorge Ben
Mystic Moods Orchestra (Cosmic Sea)
Lynvil Thompson
Dorothy Ashby


London, U.K.: I am a huge Thievery Corporation fan but you hardly ever have gigs in the UK! How come? Are there any plans for DJ sets in London in 2007?

Rob Garza: We've played London a number of times. I think last time we were there we played a dj set at Fabric. We're definitely a bit overdue.


Washington, D.C.: Hi guys,

I'm sure you've been asked this a lot: Is the rumor true that the 18th Street Lounge was Theodore Roosevelt's house in the late 1800s? And why'd you decide to sell the place, one of my favorite bars in D.C.?


Eric Hilton: The lounge never got sold. It is the same exact bar that opened 11 years ago. My partner Farid Ali still deejays there regularly. I just spun there 2 weeks ago.

That whole Jefferson and 18th corner has a lot of history and TR did live there for a brief time.


San Diego, Calif.: Dear Rob and Eric,

I'm a huge fan and just recently transplanted from D.C. to San Diego. I saw you at the Hollywood Bowl this summer opening for the Flaming Lips. Your sound was amazing but did you enjoy playing such a large venue or do you prefer more intimate ones?

Rob Garza: They both can be great. I prefer the more intimate venues, but it was really quite an honor to play the Hollywood Bowl with two other great bands. Festivals can be very impersonable. You arrive, play, and then leave.


San Francisco, Calif.: I found you cats because of your comiling of Right Tempo's Easy Tempo series. I am very happy to see that soft core art house lounge revival, as those cats were way ahead of their time. Are you musically heading away from that now? Do you have any plans to dig deeper into the vaults for that sort of lounge jazz?

Really ... this gets me to the deeper question ... how big is your collection? I assume being producers that you are so overwhelmed with music that you just find what you like and use it, rather than dig into your own collection to pull stuff out?

Eric Hilton: Rob and I both have some pretty insane record collections. Those early discs very much influence our own approach to music. Our favorite records, like those from Italian composers you mention, push the limits as far as genres are concerned. They blend Brazilan, rock, easter sounds and strings into intoxicating combinations.


Silver Spring, Md.: Where are you guys getting your suits these days?

Rob Garza: We're not buying too many suits these days, but Mr. Eddies in London is a great place to get a tailor made suit.


Wilton, Conn.: The styles of music you create or spin are definately the new sounds of lounge or even "cool."

My questions, do you feel a challenge to improve with each album or mix to go forward in the genre or do you find new music naturally as an extension of your interests? Also do you you consider yourselves the "Purveyors of Cool" (or may I take that honor?)

Eric Hilton: Well, cool is certainly a relative term. We certainly try to make sounds that are cool to us. And we do try very hard to out do ourselves with each LP. I'm really glad that it strikes a chord with you. Thanks.


Washington, D.C.: Which was your favorite of all the shows you have ever played?

Rob Garza: Athens Greece to 8,000 people in an ancient amphitheatre overlooking Athens. The audience we're going mental. It was really a gig I'll never forget. I think that is the largest audience we played to that wasn't a festival.


Washington, D.C.: I heard you guys are making a movie. Is this true?

Thievery Fan

Eric Hilton: We've been working on some side projects. Rob took the year off to tour and work on his rock project, Dust Galaxy. I wrote and directed a film called Babylon Central. I'm working with the editor to complete it and hopefully get it out by this summer.


Re: Satyam Shivum Sundharam: Hi Guys,

I saw you at 9:30 in July 2005, when you opened up with Satyam S. Sundharam, who was singing the song on stage?

Rob Garza: Gunjan, she also appears on Warning Shots.


Fairfax, Va.: Looking forward to the show tonight! You've mentioned on your Web site that you are just about ready to record. How do you work that process? Do you have a bunch of song sketches and then finalize in the studio?

Any forthcoming collaborations you can fill us in on?

Eric Hilton: We have many sketches already, but I really can't say when you'll see the next TC LP. Hopefully soon.

Thanks for coming to the show tonight.


San Francisco, Calif.: (better than the last ramble)

Was the production of Mirror Conspiracy one of your first times in the studio? Assuming it is a huge learning curve, I always notice the bass being a little heavy ... was something off in the production of it?

Eric Hilton: Check your speakers!!


Washington, D.C.: Are the shows completely sold out?

Rob Garza: Yeah. When they approached us about playing 4 nights we were a little skeptical that we could sell it out. We are pleasantly surprised.


Guilford, Conn.: I caught your set at Camp Bisco over the summer and was blown away. Your music seems a natural fit for the organi-tronica scene (Disco Biscuits, Lotus, etc.). Any plans to collaborate/tour with any of those type artists in the future?

Eric Hilton: Organi-tronica!!!??? This is a new one to me. We call it Synthetic-free-range-tronica. No pesticides or growth hormones.

Camp Bisco was cool and the Disco Biscuits were great to have us. I'd certainly like to collaborate with them.


Brighton, U.K.: Where's the sound going for the next album? More organic perhaps?

Rob Garza: We're still figuring it out. I think when we actually start recording, it's the music starts to lead you in a specific direction.


Bethesda, Md.: I love the Bossa influence and I must say the Indian/Sitar stuff is awesome. Your sitar player rocks. Saw your BANG! Miami show, it was great. Too bad that there were so many other bands playing that more people didn't come over to see you at that stage. Did you see Daft Punk? They rocked the show!

Eric Hilton: Daft Punk's show is cool. They rocked it in Brazil at the festivals we went to. I'm not a big electro-disco listener, but they definetly do it live better than anyone.


Washington, D.C.: How do you think having Washington, D.C., as a base has impacted you and your music? Has it differentiated you in a positive way or limited your access? Do you plan to be based-out of D.C. for the long-term?

Rob Garza: I think it's been a positive thing to come from dc. You don't get caught up in all the music industry mentality. You can retain your own artistic vision without getting swept up in all the trends.


Riverside, Calif.: Your music through the years ... to this day has in flavor kept consistent as seems to be the character of many of the most successful music endeavors. Yet you keep things new and fresh ... How do you maintain this fine line? What is the nature of this trait? Is it a cosmic inclination? These attempts certainly can't be manufactured?

Rob Garza: It's something we don't really think about. Our consistency is more of a natural inclination, following a musical vision that was there at the inception. Its a matter of trying to be true to our influences and inspirations.


Springfield, Va.: Hi, I love hearing your music on the "Crate," AOL Radio's abstract beats station.

From your perspective, what's more important in new music: quality of content or quality of sound? I'd rather hear classic soul on a scratchy tape in my car than beautifully mixed fluff. I understand sound design yields innovative sounds which are works of art themselves, but (in my opinion) it begins to border on the theoretical.

What advice would you give to a beginning composer with this in mind? Concentrate on the musical form and structure, and add the gloss on later, or build around fresh sounds?

Eric Hilton: Content is ultimately what will make something timeless and important. But really, nothing should be overlooked. If you can make a great song with phenomenal production, you've done it all. Of course that's so hard to do, but it's probably the goal one should have.


St. Louis, Mo.: I know that Rob has a club in Playa Del Carmen -- Santanera -- and that there was a short tradition of Thievery playing New Year's Eve shows there. So, some friends and I, all Thievery fans, spent last NYE in Playa hoping to catch a show there. Although we had a great time at the club that night, there was sadly no Thievery show ... We all want to go back for NYE some year, but were wondering if you guys will be doing another NYE show there in the future? We saw you in Chicago, so we at least have been able to enjoy a show. Keep rockin ...

Rob Garza: Yeah, last year we were in Playa Mexico, but we were just hanging out. We don't have any plans as of yet to go back and play. I think next time it'll be a spontaneous decision. We'll put it on the website.


Brisbane, Australia: Any chances touring Australia soon or in the future?

Rob Garza: It's something we keep talking about, but no plans at the moment.


Mt. Pleasant, Washington, D.C: I saw your show last night and am coming again tonight.

I was wondering what program you use to set up your visual display?

Rob Garza: It's the first time we've used the lcd screens. They look incredible.


Chicago, Ill.: I love the way that you bring together so many sounds. I truly feel like it is the 'wave of the future' to be so global- sounding. Do you have any type of worldly agenda when you make music? I know as an audience member I am lifted to a place of universality. I would love to know how you incorporate your musical influences and if you have any goals for the way your music affects people.

Eric Hilton: Thank you. That's a hard question answer. Music is a bundle of vibrations and it resonates with people in unique ways. We make songs that strike the right chord with us. It always amazes me that the same songs appeal to others. Cetainly this helps bring people together.


SW, D.C.: Your live shows are kinetic and full-blown musical madness and magic. Have you thought about doing a live DVD? I think the three-night stand you did at the 9:30 Club last year for the Cosmic Game Tour would have made for an absolutely amazing DVD, or live CD/download. You guys were loving us and we were loving you right back.

Rob Garza: We're filming these shows. Maybe there'll be a dvd depending on the footage.


Anonymous: Several years ago some friends and I were dressed up and out for a night on the town. The bouncer at ESL said, "You are not getting in." Haven't been back, sorry I spend any money on CDs, is this really the way you want to do business?

Eric Hilton: I wasn't there and don't know the particulars. Sorry for that.


Washington, D.C.: If you were going to be stranded on a desert island, what three albums would you want to take? Or if that is too hard, what is one you cannot live without?

Eric Hilton: There are so many, but I'd have to ay Marvin Gaye 'What's Going On'.


Washington, D.C.: Are Frank and Al from PDP playing with you this time and is Frank singing any songs?

Rob Garza: Yeah they're with us. Frank is singing Revolution Solution and the Heart's a Lonely Hunter. Those guys are great.


Springfield, Va.: Good that local talent made it big. Do you have any recommendations on music agencies/managers in the area, or do you now use someone from N.Y./L.A.?

Eric Hilton: I would call Seth Hurwitz at IMP. He's the man.


Orange, Calif.: Any way you all would be coming back to L.A. anytime in the near future?! I need more live Thievery Corp.! Honestly, your live performances are truly amazing! I need more ...

Eric Hilton: The last time we were there was the Hollywood Bowl show with The Flaming Lips. What a night for us!

LA and SF are always on the short list of tour stops. We'll be back soon.


Bethesda, Md.: Hey Guys.

First of all, I'd like to say that I'm super excited to see you guys tonight. I booked my tickets as soon as I heard that you'd be playing.

Second of all, I want to say that you guys are incredible. I'm not the type of person to go to a lot of shows or talk about any certain band, but I always find myself talking about you guys and spreading the word.

Having said that, here's my question. You guys seem to be really busy as of late. How do you find yourselves balancing your schedule and still finding downtime to spend with your friends and family?


Rob Garza: Good question, I think it's something you do out of necessity without thinking about it. You look back and then you realize how busy you've been.


18th St.: Can you guys do a collab with Fugazi, like now?

Eric Hilton: The closest thing will probably be Dust Galaxy. Check it.


Guilford, Conn.: How about live-tronica, are you more comfortable with that term?

Eric Hilton: I like Organi-tronica. Stick with that.


Buenos Aires, Argentina: Someone said that your music is based on "donkey brakes."

What exactly are the Donkey Brakes and how do you think that they came up with that name to describe the base of your sound?

Rob Garza: I refer that question to Senior Federico Aubele, who was the originator of the "donkey brakes"


Rob Garza and Eric Hilton
Producer DJs
Thursday, December 21, 2006; 2:00 PM

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