About to hit Australia for the first time later this month for Splendour in the Grass and a couple of sideshows, we catch up with Asa from acclaimed LA duo Electric Guest to talk about their album Mondo, touring the world, working with Danger Mouse and much more...
First off, congratulations on Mondo – it’s an absolutely terrific record. Chockfull of RnB, hip-hop, fuzzy disco, adult contemporary and synth-pop flavours, ‘Mondo’ really delivers. What are some of your influences – what did you grow up listening to that helped shape your sound?
Damn, Adult Contemporary? It's true, agh. I remember once I was playing a demo for Brian at his house in L.A. & he was sitting on his couch, closing his eyes & bobbing his head for the whole 4 minute song but when it was over he took off the headphones and was like, "what the fuck was that? It sounded like adult contemporary". But yeah, I think you're right. Um..I don't know, we both listened to a lot of different stuff, mostly adult contemporary. Just kidding. I listened to mostly hip-hop and Matt listened to metal but as we grew up & became less retarded we got into other stuff. He's really into old film scores & I like most folk these days.
You two met whilst staying in a house in Mt Washington, is that right? And that’s where you met the one and only Danger Mouse as well. What was it that made everything gel? What was the initial meeting like?
Me & Matt met at that house but that's not where we met Brian. I met him years before when I was in school. I used to call my brother who was living in l.A. at the time and play him songs of mine over the phone. One day he said, "I've got a friend here that does music. You should play it for him." He put Brian on the phone and I played him the song. He said he liked it and that I should send him more stuff. We kept in touch over the months and exchanged music until he suggested that I moved into the house in l.A. where he was moving out of. I moved into his room and he ended up sort of mentoring me for years before suggesting he produce the album.
Nice to see a Berkeley boy do good – I’m originally from across the Bay in San Francisco. Did your Northern California upbringing inspire some of the psychedelic sounds that permeate your music?
Of course. I can't escape it. I still say hella every other word. I can't wait to move back but I couldn't do music there because everyone was hella lazy and never wanted to spend any of their own money to finish projects. After I spent all of my money I left for L.A. But yeah, I think it definitely influenced a lot for me.
Like the proverbial chicken and egg, were the songs that ended up on your debut played live before ever being recorded, or vice versa?
Vice (re)versa. None were played live beforehand.
Tell us a bit about Danger Mouse’s producing style. I can certainly hear his influence in the album!
Hm. I would say casual. I know that sounds weird but he's all about being comfortable and just focusing on the music. We had long hours. I remember him shaking me awake a few times so we could finish songs. He would fall asleep too though. It was adorable because he has this tiny couch in his studio & he's a big dude. But yeah, he really helped us finish the project.
One of the highlights off the record would be the epic, eight-minute long track ‘Troubleman’. Were you surprised when it was first played on the radio?
Yeah. I had a friend that kept telling me, "man, I love hearing you on the radio but it's my entire drive to work." We never thought that song would be on the radio.
One aspect of Mondo I find truly endearing is how it sometimes feels like a paean to the late-‘70s/early-‘80s FM adult-oriented ‘yacht-rock’ sound. When you were putting the record together, were you at all cautious about over-doing that particular sound?
No. I don't think any of us listen to that kind of music so we weren't thinking of over doing anything.
When you’re not being musicians and touring, what do you guys like to do to blow off steam?
I like to try and steady my tempestuous mind. Matt likes to listen to music and watch movies. I know because I live with him. We're still broke enough to be roommates.
You’ve grown in leaps and bounds since that kindly old woman in Dunkin’ Donuts helped give you your moniker. What’s next for Electric Guest?
I don't know. Touring? We're on tour for the next half a year I think. We'll probably release some more music in that time.
An extra question from Larry: I had the chance to catch up with you guys on the road in the US and the UK doing the old industry circuits. Has anything directly resulted from your time at these events? What were your highlights and/or low-lights of your escapades?
It's hard to tell what is directly linked to doing shows, like does it help to get other opportunities for the band but I think a lot has resulted from it. The grind of touring is exactly that: high & low escapades. Low points for me include crying in hotel room in Paris while texting Brian things like, "I can't do this shit. I haven't slept in four days. I lost my voice last night blah blah blah etc". While high points include seeing the world and meeting people so generous that they restore any faith that's been lost along the way.
Thanks so much for chatting with us! Good luck on the tour, and welcome to Australia!
Electric Guest’s critically acclaimed album Mondo is out now via Dew Process. Tickets are on sale now for their Splendour Sideshows with both Sydney and Melbourne selling fast.
ELECTRIC GUEST with Special Guests YesYou
Presented by Channel [V], Street Press Australia & Groupie
TUESDAY JULY 31 – OXFORD ART FACTORY, SYDNEY
Tickets from: oxfordartfactory.com or ph: 1300 GET TIX (438 849)
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 1 – NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE
Tickets from: northcotesocialclub.com or ph: 1300 724 867