Thievery Corporation's Rob Garza on remixing and the endless possibilities in the digital realm
Rob Garza has a lot going on besides Thievery Corporation -- he's also a touring DJ in his own right who ignites dancefloors everywhere he spins, and he has a new album out entirely comprising remixes he's tweaked. We caught up with him to talk about the album, how he works his own sound and what's coming up next for the impresario.
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Westword: Can you tell us about your new album, Remixes? Were the remixes tracks that you had been collecting for a while, or did you create them specifically for this album?
Rob Garza: Basically, it started, a friend of mine named Federico Aubele called me up and said, "Would you want to do a remix for me?" And I was like, "Thievery is really busy right now." We were just kind of in the middle of some other things. And he was like, "No, would you do it," and I thought, well, I could find some time and mess around with the track.
It started out like that, and other people heard that I was doing these remixes, and people kept asking me. And after a while it was like, man, I have all these tracks, and it would be kind of nice to put it all in one place and put it out as a compilation.
What was it like putting your own spin on someone else's work?
I think it was a lot easier, because there was no pressure. I was really just doing it for fun, and all these remixes I didn't get paid for. It was like, yeah, I'll do something, and if you like it, put it out, kind of thing. The other artists really dug it and I was like, okay, if you put it out, I'll put it out, too. I think at this stage in the music industry, everybody's kind of worried about making money, and I think with these tracks, the music in general is just kind of more about having fun, creating music and letting people hear it.
Even though you made the remixes separately, the album has a good flow to it -- how did you decide how to order the tracks?
I just kind of ordered them the way that I felt like was the natural listening flow of a record. I feel that that's one of the things that I have from doing Thievery Corporation is that we've made so many records and are good at thinking of a nice flow and continuity throughout a listen of an album, but these days a lot of people go on iTunes and they just pick the most popular songs; they won't even listen to albums -- so maybe that's silly in this day and age.
I don't think so, personally -- I love listening to albums that were crafted to be listened to beginning to end.
That's how I like to listen to music, too! But maybe I'm just old fashioned.
You do have one Thievery Corporation track, "Vampires," on the Remixes album -- how did that come about?
It kind of started off as an accident. There's a group here in San Francisco called Afrolicious, and they have a really good band. It's a really good project. And I asked them if they wanted to do a remix, and my friend who was working on the remix had it to this point, and I was in the studio with him and started redoing some stuff and re-sequencing and rearranging -- and at some point it became a collaborative remix of one of our own, meaning Thievery's, work.
It's very different from the original -- it's a good track, and I found it interesting how far you went with it.
That's the thing with remixing, in a way. The songs are never done. And especially in the digital realm, you can always take something and manipulate it or expand with your own ideas.
Tell us what we can expect from your DJ set at Beta.
When I started doing these, I came from more of an electronic music background, and lately over the past three to four years, I've been really getting back into electronic music, so the music I'm going to be playing is a lot of space disco and deep house. I've just been getting back into deejaying and really enjoying the art of going and finding music to play for other people.
It's a lot of fun, I really enjoy it -- and it's nice, too, because there will be a lot of people that come out who expect to hear -- maybe they expect I'm going to play a more downtempo set, maybe they're not so familiar with a lot of modern electronic music, so it's a way for people to really kind of be exposed to and also have a good time and move.
What do you have in the works right now that you're excited about?
Thievery -- we're working on a new album, it should be out in the fall, and it's the opposite of an electronic album. It's just super organic and beautiful. We're excited about that. And I'm working on a couple other projects: One's a kind of more deep house disco-y project called Out of Body Workshop, and that'll be out in the summer. I've just been really busy lately!
You can pick up Remixes, which contains remixed tracks by Federico Aubele and Afrolicious, this Monday, May 28.