Apr 04, 2012

Bassnectar has been thrilling fans for years with his eclectic sound. Now his music is perfectly aligned with what the mainstream wants, taking his career to new levels. While at Ultra, Lorin talked with us about his creative process, politics, & his famous head of hair.

Bassnectar feat Lupe Fiasco - Vava Voom (Original Mix) [Amorphous]
LessThan3: Which stage are you playing tomorrow at Ultra?
Lorin: I’m closing out the Live Stage Sunday night, then I head to Lollapalooza and South America. This is the first weekend of four months straight of touring. I was at home for two weeks, but now I won’t be back until July 6.
LessThan3: Where are your favorite places to perform?
Lorin: I enjoy different places for different reasons. When I play in a middle-of-nowhere town, it rages just as hard—almost more. People in rural areas are more grateful since it is a more rare experience for them. However, if you do a Saturday night in New York, it’s going to have it’s own energy. Every setting has the potential to be a beautiful thing.
LessThan3: Your new album has a lot of different influences, including metal and hip hop. How do you think the music you make is fostering the ability to meld these genres together?
Lorin: The beauty of electronic music for me is it can sound like transformers having sex, or it could just sound like punk rock or hip hop and you’re just using electronic methods to make it phatter. It’s a great way to turn music up and combine different forms together; it doesn’t even need to sound like computer music. The most attractive thing to me about the genre is I could be a metalhead or tamper with styles of music I don’t even know a lot about and just meld them with other sounds that I’m more familiar with.
LessThan3: What approach do you take to your mixing? You are known to mix a lot of different genres and styles into one set.
Lorin: I’ve been a drummer for a long time, so beatmatching is very easy for me. I like being at 140 bpm with dubstep and then slowing it down to 85 bpm and then mixing in double-time drum’n’bass and Fugees tracks. I love Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. That used to be more of an anomaly, but now it’s pretty normal. Confining yourself to just the trance stage or the house stage seems kind of archaic to me.
LessThan3: How do you keep your sound unique and distinct?
Lorin: I don’t try; I just do what I love and sometimes that may mean that I don’t end up sounding unique, and sometimes I do. I just think about what I really want to make and I focus on what I find to sound best rather than what sounds newest. Also, when you’ve got a really deep record collection you can reach back even further into “Neverland” and really pull out some gems, rather than just always trying to play the newest sound.
LessThan3: You worked with Mimi Page recently. What led to this collaboration and what else can we expect from you two?
Lorin: A good friend of mine who goes by Minnesota worked with Mimi and ended up taking his track with her to my mastering studio. I thought she had a really cool voice, so I asked Minnesota to introduce me to her. She ended up being one of the most flexible and diversely talented artists I’ve ever worked with. She played stuff on the piano, I’d put it into Ableton, and we would go back and forth. She’d sing it, I’d rewrite lyrics, and so on. We were almost more thorough than we needed to be just because we were having fun and the language we were speaking was so fluid.
LessThan3: You’ve been known to incorporate some political messages into your sets. Is this usually pre-planned or is it more spontaneous?
Lorin: It’s the same as with my music process: I really don’t try, I just speak my mind. At times, my mind might be engaging in political thought and I would just as soon speak that as I would say “Hello, welcome to this night, nice to see you.” Frankly, the last several years I’ve been really disinterested in politics. I’ve been interested in humanism and social issues, but not as much in the circus of disctration that politics is. Now I find myself trying to gravitate toward giving people a uniquely magical experience, and not using political messaging as much. We don’t have as tangible of a “bad guy” at this point—it’s gotten more complicated.
LessThan3: Do you think it’s important for artists to use their outlets to direct their fans into positive or individualistic thinking?
Lorin: I think that it’s important for people to do what they are most drawn to do. I genuinely feel interested in bringing people together and connecting them to each other. I feel a strong personal connection to most humans because of empathy, but there might be another person who doesn’t feel that way, so it might not be best for them to lead people down a certain path of thinking. Do what you do best and hopefully good comes of that.
LessThan3: You post a lot of astronomy-related material on your Facebook. Is that also a passion of yours?
Lorin: I’m not much of a partier type of a guy, so I just post things that I find beautiful, interesting, or informative. I have friends who help me aggregate these things. I want to show people things that I love rather than just the latest hype. It’s hard to juggle that, though, because we have this new record coming out and the last five posts on Facebook have been about it. I don’t even want to be like that.
LessThan3: How do you think your personal sound has evolved over the past few years?
Lorin: Every time I sit down to make a song, it’s never the same formula for me. I might make something that sounds exactly like a track I’ve already made; I might make something that sounds nothing like what I’ve already made. I just work with what I want to do, so I don’t know if my sound has evolved—it’s just that I have very complex tastes and only so much time to explore them. When I was sixteen I was really into hardcore metal. When I was in the early rave scene I was getting into techno, trance, and ambient jungle sounds, and then I got into dowtempo and trip hop. This is the first several year sprint where what I want to do is coinciding with what is really popular. That’s a unique thing for me because I’m used to doing something that is very left-field. It isn’t necessarily going this wide because im trying to make it happen; it’s just been this natural fluke that I started liking something right before it got big. I could just as likely be not as popular in a year because I started doing something that isn’t as popular. That’s just my personality.
LessThan3: Are there any up-and-comers that you’re working with a lot right now?
Lorin: There is a vast web of people I work with through my label, Amorphous Music. They’re usually collaborators on my records. The guy I mentioned before, Minnesota, is a big one. Lupe Fiasco is another one, though he is by no means up-and-comer. He helped me transform a song on my upcoming record called Vava Voom into a really unique piece.
LessThan3: Has your touring schedule become more hectic over the past few years? If so, how do you manage that?
Lorin: It’s actually not that much more hectic—it’s been as much as I can take for ten years. The difference now is that I’ve got a bigger team, so I’ve got a lot more people helping me, whereas ten years when I was doing 150 shows a year it was just me. These days I have a whole road crew of fifteen or so.
LessThan3: What is the one message that you want to get across to your fans?
Lorin: I would probably need a whole day to talk with someone in-depth to really be able to get out all the messages that I feel are important. In a sound-byte format, I boil it down to what has helped me the most over the past few years. I have found the most happiness by focusing on what I’m most grateful for, even when I am struggling. Whether it’s sickness, stressful business, or depression, I just stop and focus on things like the fact that I have two working hands or that I can breathe. Any moment that you stop and look around, there are so many things to give thanks for.
LessThan3: Can it be challenging to take care of your hair on the road?
Lorin: I haven’t cut my hair since I was nineteen. I don’t really wear it for style; I wear it for “anti-style.” I used to play with my hair up to keep it out of my eyes, and I would bounce around so much that it would just fall down, and I would keep having to do my hair five or six times during my set, and finally I was just like “f*ck this” and I just let my hair down. It’s nice now because the crowds are so big that it can be almost nerve-wracking so I get a little curtain in front of my face that I can see out of but they can’t really see into.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Lorin: I wouldn’t listen to music; I would just enjoy sunlight and whoever I was with.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Lorin: Omnitempo Maximalism.
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