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Why The Glitch Mob Does It Differently

“It takes a lot of courage to disappear for two years.”
Photo by Lucas Gregg

It's no question that The Glitch Mob has one of the most unique sounds in electronic music. Some may label their sound simply "glitch," or electronic symphonic rock. Either way, they're an act you need to hear and see live to understand.

The trio from Los Angeles started their year with a new album, Love Death Immortality. We caught up with the guys, edIT (Edward Ma), Boreta (Justin Boreta) and Ooah (Josh Mayer), before their set at Electric Forest to discuss what the hell they've been up to for the past few years.


THUMP: Where did you guys just come from?
Josh: We were home for one day after playing Electric Daisy Carnival last week and also What The Festival, which is just outside of Portland.

How was EDC and how many have you played now?
Josh: It was amazing. We've played EDC a number of times.

Ed: It was our fourth or fifth EDC.

Justin: It was our first time playing main stage. In 2007, we basically opened the parking lot stage where everyone was waiting in line. There are still people who come up to us and say, "I was waiting in line when you guys were playing the parking lot!" It was a lot of fun for us.

You guys have taken about four years off since we last heard from The Glitch Mob. What sort of break did you all take?
Josh: We just decided to write another record and that's literally how long it took. It took us two years to write the record and two years after Drink the Sea, we toured.

That's just kind of how we do our thing. We tour for a while and then we stop and write music and then we tour again. We're more like a traditional band than DJs because DJs are constantly putting out new singles and they're always touring. There are no tour cycles with DJs—it's just, 'We can play a couple shows, go home and write a new song for a couple of days, try it out, play it, make another song.' You know? It's that lifestyle. We approach it differently and we write full-length albums, mostly because we just believe in the album. There are not a whole lot of electronic acts that do that. So for us, it's a way to tell our story and carry the torch for the album's writing process.


The bands that we grew up listening to, like Radiohead for instance, put out albums and they were always so cool to take fans on that journey. When you put out a record, you get 10 to 12 songs about what Radiohead is about at any given time, so for us we really wanted to continue that process and wanted to do that as a group.

With your fans being electronic music listeners and the DJ production cycle being so quick, how do you please your fans while staying true to that?
Ed: I think nowadays, it takes a lot of courage to disappear for two years and then come back. The entire time, we put a lot of faith into the music and that the fans would still be there and that they would exponentially grow—which is what has happened. It just takes a lot of confidence to your craft and story. As long as you have that, and your story is good enough, the music at the end of the day will always prevail. It doesn't matter if you're gone for two years or ten, people will still want to hear your music. Daft Punk is the same way. They don't tour endlessly, they don't put out singles every month, they always just do them and people love it no matter what. That's sort of model that we ascribe to, as opposed to trying to constantly battle the up and down ladder of relevancy. That's not really our vibe.

With three of you, did you always just click together or were there some growing pains?
Ed: Well it definitely takes a lot longer to make music, since we all have to sign off on it. But, we've known each other for so long that I think the bond we have is far beyond brotherhood or band mates or even creative partners. It's much deeper than just relatives and business partners. There's a strong understanding and a strong trust in each other that no matter what, at the end of the day, we all believe in each other and the process.

Josh: It's also really interesting because we all produced electronic music a number of years before we reached out to one another. When we started playing shows and making music, we all believed that producing music together would be better than what one person could accomplish on their own. We were all fans and loved what each other did as DJs before The Glitch Mob existed. It was this empowering energy about what we were doing, it was sweet that we got to do it together and it was better than sitting at home by ourselves. So yeah, it was kind of like magic in the making when we got together and started writing songs.

The magic definitely shows on stage with your live shows being so crazy. Is it a different process in the studio versus making your live show happen? Do you make your music knowing what sort of stuff you're going to want to play live?
Justin: There's a little bit of both. When we're in the studio, we aren't really thinking, "Write this drum line here so this guy can play it." It's more so that we know the energy of the record and that it projects the same story we've been telling. It has a lot of feeling and emotion with very specific pictures we're trying to paint. This time, we wanted to just make music and add the energy of a live set. We've gone through so many transformations. When we're in the studio we think, "Okay this is what we're going to play live." Because it's a two-step process, after the record is done and mastered we have to think, "How the fuck are we going to play this live?" And then we have to build this whole stage around the album to perform it best.

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