It was a big week for Brooklyn based electronic DJ and producer, Eliot Lipp. Lipp’s in the middle of a national tour and just celebrated the release of his newest LP out on Pretty Lights Music, Watch the Shadows, which is a deliciously diverse collection that fuses hip-hop sounds, synth beats and vocals for tracks that keep you guessing, “what’s next?”
Even though I caught Eliot while he was getting over a cold, it didn’t stop the ambitious artist from sharing his excitement about recent collaborations, his most anticipated tour stops and tips for staying healthy on the road.
Megan Venzin: Where do you feel like you get most of your influences for producing music?
Eliot Lipp: Probably from listening to my friends music and listening to stuff with other producers that I hang out with. I’m influenced a lot by them, also from playing live and recently kind of starting to make me want to make more club and dance music.
MV: And this your something like your 7th or 8th release!
EL: Something like that, I can’t really remember but it’s getting up there. (Laughs)
MV: How do you feel like your sound has evolved over time, and how have you grown as a performer?
EL: There’s a lot more layers. I’m trying to make it so musically there’s more depth to it, but I don’t know I’m also trying to get better at the engineering side of it. I took a mixing and mastering class at Dubspot in New York and that helped me quite a bit, just learning the technical aspects of being a producer.
MV: I was super interested in their program too. Was it worth it?
EL: Yeah definitely, I was wondering that myself because I didn’t know if it was just for beginners, but they offer all levels. For mixing and mastering, it’s pretty awesome. I knew a lot of the stuff they were talking about, but I learned a lot of new stuff too. I met producers doing all different styles of music, which was pretty neat too.
MV: How did you end up working with Cherub? I feel like those guys are everywhere right now. I love the things they’ve done with Gramatik and Big Gigantic too.
EL: I met Cherub years ago just doing festivals and playing shows, I kept running into them everywhere and we had a lot of mutual friends. We did that song quite a while ago, before they had their record deal. There was no reason. We were just hanging out and I was showing them what I was working on, and one of the tracks stood out to them and they started writing on it. I had no idea that it would become a legit collaboration track and end up on the album. I’m pretty happy with that. I usually just work with people I’m friends with. I haven’t actually seeked out a producer to work on a remix with.
MV: When Cherub was here in April, I somehow ended up partying with Jason Huber’s dad for the majority of the night. His name was Brian, and he was awesome.
EL: (Laughs) That’s pretty funny.
MV: Yeah, I ran into, wait I mean, “I saw” Jason Huber at a show at Bonnaroo, and I was a little drunk. I just ran up to him and started telling him that I hung out with his dad. He probably thought I was insane because I was talking to him like he knew who I was, and I definitely don’t. He was probably just thinking, “go away, weird girl”. But whatever, he needed to know.
ANYWAY, When did you start releasing on the Pretty Lights label and how has working with an artist of that caliber translated into your work and the way you are received by the electronic community?
EL: The first record came out two and a half years ago, but it was probably four years ago when Derek from Pretty Lights first told me about the label and wanted me to do this. It just took a while for me to finally give him that album. It’s a big inspiration seeing him do it and reach the level he has [sic]. I saw him play with the Colorado Symphony, and I had never thought I’d see instrumental music like this. For the most part it’s hip-hop beats with synth and he takes it to such a level I’d never expect to see. It’s a huge inspiration for me as a producer, and musicially I’m inspired by his stuff as well because I really like the sound he creates. It’s been very cool working with him since I’m also such a fan of his music.
MV: Do you feel like being based in Brooklyn has helped you get more exposure as an artist, and has it influenced your sound?
EL: I think it definitely has influenced my sound. But it’s weird. I’ve been in New York for nine years or so. I’ve done shows here, and there are some people I work with that are in New York also, but most of team, my booking agent, my manager, and collaborators are all based in other parts of the country. I hang out with a lot of musicians in New York, but I don’t necessarily do a lot of work with them. It’s not really the epicenter for the type of music I’m doing. Even though I draw a lot of inspiration from New York, I seem to get bigger crowds in Colorado, San Francisco and Chicago.
That said, I don’t think I’d want to be living in Denver where it’s all about one style of music. It’s nice to be in New York where it’s closer to what’s going on in Europe, with all different styles. That doesn’t really spread through the rest of the country. Culturally there’s a lot more to offer even though it’s not the headquarters for electronic funk stuff. There’s music from all over the world going on here. It’s a good place to be just because of the inspiration I can draw. I never use it for the networking part though. What I really appreciate about New York is getting to see all of these other bands play live and getting to spend time with those musicians where I can pick their brains, but not just for the industry part.
MV: How has playing at small DIY venues like Glasslands helped you grow to play bigger shows?
When I play solo it’s usually Glasslands, but the other day we did Gramercy [theatre] and it was totally packed, which was super cool. That’s kind of rare for me in New York. I really like Glasslands though, and that’s another thing about New York I love. Being here really levels the playing ground for musicians. There’s always someone else who is bigger than you, and that fact kind of crushes people’s egos in a good way.
You also see big groups play small clubs in New York all the time. It forces you to focus a little more on the raw connection you’re making with your fans when you play live. That can get lost at a festival when you’re playing on a giant stage far away from the crowd. I just feel like it’s so much more exaggerated at a big concert or festival. I tend to get more nervous in a smaller crowd compared to when I’m in front of 10,000 people.
MV: I guess that makes sense, and I’m sure it’s helpful when you know you can get a big crowd to shut up and listen that helps when you’re in a more intimate setting.
EL: (Laughs) Yeah, absolutely.
MV: So what are your goals surrounding the tour? Are you just trying to hit new cities and spread the word about the Watch the Shadows?
EL: We’re halfway through the tour right now. We started in the middle of the country and now we’re on our way to Asheveille, NC.
MV: I hear it’s great. I’ve never been.
EL: It is. It’s fun! It’s like a little Portland. It’s just a hippie town in the mountains with tons of great food. Everyone is really nice. I love it there. There’s also the Moog Factory, the synthesizer company, so I get to go there today to take a tour there, which should be really cool. New York was also one of the shows I really stoked to play.
MV: Are you going to New Orleans?
EL: We are! Yeah!
MV: New Orleans is THE BEST.
EL: Yeah! And Austin too, that will be a good one.
MV: Austin is amazing. What a strange town to exist in a state like Texas, but so wonderful.
EL: Yeah, yeah. I know what you mean.
MV: Are you a barbeque man?
EL: I love barbeque.
MV: When I was there for Austin City Limits last year, we went to this amazing place called La Barbeque and it was just this trailer where you could order meat by the pound and they had all you can drink free Lonestar Beer. So it was like $8 bucks to eat mountains of meat and drink for as long as you wanted. You can’t find anything like that in New York. (Laughs) It’s so nice.
EL: Yeah, and when you do find a place in New York where the barbeque is as good as the Texas stuff, it’s like $30. It’s funny, you spend so much money on just a piece of brisket.
MV: They try and make it bougie too. That part is so funny to me.
EL: Yeah, seriously. (Laughs)
MV: So how is the album being received by crowds? Are people getting into it? Are you feeling pretty jazzed?
EL: We put out the single, Watch the Shadows and I’ve been playing that one out. You know, it’s cool! I love playing a brand new song, and then finding the people in the crowd who already know it. I love dropping the intro and then seeing a handful of people start hollering. I can tell they already like it. I think there are a handful of songs on the record that are going to be really good to play live. They just have a good funk beat to them. A lot of times when I’m working on tracks I’ll test it out by playing unfinished versions of the track live in my sets. I’m really stoked for the new record to finally come out, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to play live.
MV: If you just listened to your album from start to finish, they songs sound so different that if you didn’t know who you were you wouldn’t even realize it was the same artist necessarily.
EL: I know. (Laughs) That’s a problem.
MV: I think that’s so cool though! And really rare too! I guess I understand that it’s important to find your signature sound, but I think it’s so nice and fresh and exciting to not know what’s coming in the next track.
EL: I’ve been working on that. I’ve been trying to make the albums more cohesive, but I love so many different styles of music. It’s hard to pick just one to stick with.
MV: Is there anyone that you really want to collaborate with? Your sound reminds me of Gramatik and Griz, The elements of funk are there. And I know that Pretty Lights works with Big Gigantic. Who do you hope to sit down with in the future?
EL: I’ve worked with Big Gigantic and Pretty Lights. Derek’s done a remix for me and I’ve done a remix for him, but what we’ve been talking about, and what I’d really like to do, is get in the studio and actually make a song. We haven’t made plans for it yet, but it’s definitely something we’ve been talking about. I’ve been working with Michal Menert who’s also on the Pretty Lights Music label and while we’ve been on this tour we’ve been writing together on the bus. So we’ll probably release that later.
I want to work with more vocalists. There were a couple of vocalists on Watch the Shadows who I’m going to be doing a lot more stuff with. They’re both from Tacoma, WA, which is where I’m from. I’d like to put out an album with vocals on every song because I’ve done so much instrumental music already. I’ve been working up to doing a whole album with MCs and different vocalists on each track.
MV: The album comes out next week. Are you going to have a party?
EL: I’m going to celebrate for sure. I’m doing a big Halloween show in Denver, which will be two nights. And I’m going to keep promoting the record. I’d like to do a solo tour too, probably next winter.
MV: You guys just don’t sleep! Every time I talk to a producer I’m amazed that you’re able to function with the playing in clubs til 6 AM, then the early load-ins. You guys are NUTS. So here’s a good question, what advice can you give to producers on the road regarding how to keep their health and sanity?
EL: You should get as much sleep as you can, but that’s hard sometimes. And eating healthy is so important. If you’re lazy, you’ll eat whatever is closest to you, or fast food, just to get to the next show. It’s crazy how much better you’ll do if you can just eat healthy. You won’t even need as much sleep.
MV: THAT’S SO TRUE.
EL: During the tour when the schedule is packed and there’s no time for sleep, I just make sure not to eat anything that’s going to put me in a food coma because that fucks up the whole schedule. I brought my juicer on the bus with me once and everyone fucking hated me because it was so loud and there was just shit everywhere, every day. All that shit left over from the carrots and celery (Laughs).
MV: I’m obsessed with that.
EL: I did a 10-Day juice cleanse while I was on tour, and it was really ridiculous.
MV: We’ve got DJ KALE! I love it. I just did the CLEAN Cleanse and you’re right. You feel great, you don’t need sleep, and then you have a beer and it all comes back to get you.
EL: (Laughs) Totally!
You can stream Watch the Shadows for free via Pretty Lights Music HERE.
You can check out the new single The Western ft. Cherub via Soundcloud below:
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