Eliot Lipp and the Gravitational Pull of Dubstep
Eliot Lipp's spent most of his professional career traveling from city to city, picking up different sounds along the way. One piece of memorabilia: an outdated SP-1200 sampler. Lipp's also released six albums, the latest of which, How We Do: Moves Made, came out in October. After dealing with record labels for several releases, Lipp founded his own label, Old Tacoma Records, the namesake of his hometown, and now has the freedom to produce what he wants, how he wants.
Lipp comes through Green Elephant tonight, and took the time to talk about music and general trends in the electronic scene.
Tell me how your latest record, How We Do: Moves Made, differs from your previous albums.
It's a collaboration I did with another producer I know named Jasia 10 and I'd say it's more mellow and a little bit more downtempo. It's not really club music; it's more of a headphone sort of album. It's more influenced by jazz than anything else. Both of us as producers sample a lot of old jazz records. I guess we were inspired by a hip-hop production style, but we definitely went in this direction for a lot of old school funk and soul.
What do you want listeners to feel when they listen to this record?
I kind of wanted to give a relaxing sort of vibe. Sometimes on a lot of my solo stuff there's tension, a lot of times I'm trying to make a lot of hype, especially the stuff I play live. It's usually a bit more energetic. But for that record I wanted to make songs that were more mellow and laid back.
Any particular reason why?
I feel like there's so much electronic music that is coming out right now that is really heavy and just really loud. I think there needs to be something to balance it out. I don't feel like there's enough quality music coming out that's downtempo.
I've been embedded in the electronic music scene for almost two years now and felt really refreshed after listening to How We Do. It felt more sophisticated and intricate than a lot of the stuff coming out right now. It seems mainstream electronic is turning into a dubstep free-for-all. What do you think is making this type of electronic music more popular as opposed to genres like downtempo?
It's big in the club scene and it's good to play out in crowds. It's good in the live setting because of the heaviness of the bass in the music and the physical quality. It's just rowdy. That music gets people pumped up. Dubstep almost has the same vibe to me as metal, you know, and I think people respond to that. Especially lately it keeps getting more popular, but there have always been people making chill electronic music. Even in the rave scene when hard techno was the most popular genre, or like when Daft Punk and all the French producers were doing like really bangin' electro tracks, there has always been a really mellow side to electronic music. But in a live setting it doesn't really transfer as well. It's more for when you're going on a long drive or you've got your headphones on or you're just chillin' out.
I love electro but sometimes it feels monotonous in the live setting. HARD tour, Identity Fest, even individual producers like Paper Diamond and such: It all kind of feels and sounds the same. Is this sort of dubstep flare just something every DJ has in their back pocket to rock the crowds?
I've always noticed the difference between someone's music in the live setting versus the music that they release. And sometimes it's for the best and sometimes it's for the worse. I guess what I try to do differently is have a live drummer that I play with so I can do live remixes of my tracks. I like the spontaneity of being able to change the track recording to fit the crowd response to the music or to fit the room I'm in. I like to completely morph the songs that I'm playing live. I don't think a lot of other DJs pay attention as much to what the energy is in the room.
Do you find it more difficult to go the funky/groovy route of your album when you're playing a live set? Do people usually respond as well?
It totally depends on the crowd. I have a lot of different styles. When I play live there are a lot of different styles of music. So sometimes I'll play a banger or two and make the crowd interested in what I'm doing and then I can kind of move around and start doing whatever I want.
So do you dabble in dubstep?
Not really, that's one genre I never really have tried to produce. There are some songs that are that same tempo and there's definitely some songs with heavy bass, especially some of the new songs I'm doing have really big bass lines and stuff.
In terms of electronic music and the scene, where do you think everything is heading?
I really have no idea. I ask people that same question all the time.
Do you notice any new elements producers are adding to their sets to differentiate themselves? Any trends you see manifesting?
Well, the visuals. Every electronic artist travels with visuals or video screens or LED walls and flashing lights. That stuff is getting pretty ridiculous. It's awesome! The stage setup you see at many people's show, like the Amon Tobin show that he is touring with, the visuals on his live show are amazing. Same thing with like Bassnectar or Pretty Lights.
Do you do a lot of lights and flashy get-ups?
There's a VJ that I travel with sometimes and he'll be with me in Colorado, but not every show. I think right now I'm trying to build a band. If I'm going to bring more people on the road it's going to be my drummer and another keyboardist. I think the visual is really important, but at the same time what gets me more interested in playing is having the live element of the music. I play keyboard when I'm on stage and I would like to have more live instruments on stage.