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Rob Garza: Being Open-minded

Rob Garza: Being Open-minded
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DJ and producer Rob Garza has been known as one half of the kaleidoscopic duo Thievery Corporation, along with Eric Hilton. Earlier this year Garza released a collection of 14 remixes that he has done for artists such as Gogol Bordello, Tycho and Miguel Migs. Remixes is a crisscross concoction that merges beats, ambient waves, low —fi, psychedelic, deep house into an intriguing whole. On the other front, regarding Thievery Corporation, the band has been touring sporadically and has just finished its new record titled Saudade. The band's trademark sound that consists of chilled trip-hop, dub, lounge and casual musical globetrotting, has changed, as the electronic duo is about to release a new all acoustic record this fall with bossa-nova influences.

All About Jazz: How did this album with remixes come about?

Rob Garza: Basically, a bunch of friends had asked me if I want to do some remixes, people like Tyco, Megamix, Eugene from Gogol Bordello. This is more like a hobby. I just played with some of the stems, the tracks they had and I started doing it for fun, just to see what will happen. And then, a year and a half later I realized I had a bunch of music and I wanted to put It all on one album and compile it. That's where the record comes from.

AAJ: How comfortable are people about remixing when the remixer strays away from the artist's original ideas and concepts, and reconstructs and reinterprets their material?

RemixesRG: I think everything in this world nowadays is remixed in some way. You take a picture of you and you put different filters and in a way you are remixing a visual image. Everything we do in someways, like editing or mashing up, people are so used to it. I think people are lot more comfortable with the idea than they used to be

AAJ: During the summer of 2013 you had a series of DJ performances. What is the difference when performing as a DJ compared to performing with a band?

RG: When I'm DJ-ing, I'm playing other people's music. Actually, I'm really enjoying it. It is nice to research and explore music, and for a long time I wasn't DJ-ing and was not aware much of what was happening, what other people are doings, so this I feel in a way kind of makes me excited about what's happening out there. It's just finding a way to connect with an audience when this is not necessarily your music, but it's your selection or your taste in music.

AAJ: Do you occasionally play Thievery Corporation in your sets?

RG: I do, sometimes I would drop a song or two in there.

AAJ: It seems that the world of DJ has been divided into many camps but in most cases on one side are the turntableists and on the other are those who just play music. Each party seems to diminish the importance of the other. What's your take on this?

RG: Well, I respect both. The way I see it, turntableism is like playing an instrument. Those people are really talented. Say, when you have a great virtuoso guitarist who can really play and do insane things on the guitar, and that is great, and sometimes you might have someone that can make a simple song that can have a few guitar chords. I don't think it's one vs. the other. It's a big world and there is a place for both. There is a place for people that are turntableists and for those who select and curate great music.

AAJ: What are some of the philosophies and experiences you have taken from the DJ world into your own productions with Thievery?

RG: One of the things is the mentality of being aware of what is happening musically and bringing some of those ideas into our own production.

AAJ: What is the current status of Thievery Corporation?

RG: We just got down a bunch of shows in America and we have a new record coming out in the fall.

AAJ: Could you please introduce the new record?

thievery corporationRG: The record is called Saudade, and in a way it's very feminine because it is very organic and very beautiful. All of the songs are sung by female singers and it is a very pretty record. It is not electronic at all. It was influenced by our love of bossa nova, old French soundtracks.

AAJ: What is your take on Thievery Corporation's first record Sounds from the Thievery Hi Fi (Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, 1997)? It was a major thing back when it was released in 1997.

RG: At the time we didn't know exactly what we were doing and partly what makes that record special is that we had the spirit and the attitude to create it, but we weren't musicians and were very naïve. The way we were thinking about music, different cultures and different sounds, I think at the time was very fresh, and when I listen to it, sometimes I feel nostalgia for that period. We were young and having fun. That's what I love about it.

AAJ: Thievery Corporation is known to mix different sounds and cultures into its own music. Is there any political message or statement behind that merging of cultures?

RG: If there is any kind of statement is just being open-minded. Sometimes we get lost in our own cultures especially when we think that ours is the best. In America they sell you this by saying America is No 1. A lot of Americans are not familiar with the music from Brazil or India. They may know about Bob Marley, but may not know much about reggae or dub. For us is keeping our ears open and that hopefully will open your mind.

Selected Discography

Rob Garza, Remixes (Smashpad Records , 2013)
Thievery Corporation Culture of Fear (Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, 2011)
Thievery Corporation, Radio Retaliation (Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, 2008)
Thievery Corporation, Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi (Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, 1997)

Photo Credits Courtesy of Rob Garza

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