A lingering conversation (and walk to your car) with your crush after last call; the nostalgic daydreams of a memorable decade-old moment in time; the seductive taste of someone’s breath right before you first kiss them.
Every once in a while there is a band that breaks through the stale, inanimate boundaries of modern musical genres and seems to psycho-sonically sum up the story of one’s life.
For me, that band has become Electric Guest, the creative conception of lead singer, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Asa Taccone[/lastfm], and drummer, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Matthew Compton[/lastfm]–with some inspired production by [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Brian Burton[/lastfm] (a/k/a [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Danger Mouse [/lastfm] of [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Gnarls Barkley[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Broken Bells [/lastfm] fame).
An unsigned band boasting only a handful of shows and a limited amount of internet fanfare, the mysterious Electric Guest are slowly, effectively gathering nods from industry élite and word-of-mouth promotion by savvy music appreciators.
[pullquote quote=”Everything on the album is written out of something from my life.” credit=”Asa Taccone”]Electric Guest has held the attention of new fans with their captivating live shows and their ’60s-esque, melody-driven beatitudes dedicated to the dynamic viscera of feeling.
Even with the polish of production and the undoubted sparkle of talented musicianship, Electric Guest’s music lacks any of the contrived, mechanical ploys of many modern pop-rock bands.
Taccone explained that what the listener hears is an immersion into his own life stories, his own psyche:
“Listening to interviews with other artists, people have pretty much antithetical approaches to the same thing. I know people who are like ‘Oh, I just write fantasies,’…because I think things have been so watered down…everything on the album is written out of something from my life.”
“I tried to make it open-ended enough to not have it be about me so that it wouldn’t transcend and have people connect to it. I think a lot of music that ends up being obviously about the singer doesn’t allow people to feel whatever it emotes for them.”
“Everything on there is out of something.”
Similarly, Electric Guest’s musical influences share the same fluidity as the many varying influences of life; not one experience can define one person–or one genre accurately convey Electric Guest’s sound. Compton explained:
[pullquote quote=”There’s so many things that are just universal feelings that we want to try and get across. ” credit=”Matthew Compton”]”Generally, no matter what the genre of music is, there’s always certain things that really connect with us like emotion.”
“I feel like on every song, we’re trying to pull from different genres that we’re influenced by–whether it be something from a score that we like or an R&B song or an old Motown song.”
“There’s so many things that are just universal feelings that we want to try and get across. I don’t think it’s one thing in particular…I think that we both really enjoy things sounding a little odd and interesting.”
Ironically, in this pervasive world of social media music marketing and “buzzbands” blowing up the “blogosphere,” Electric Guest’s popularity is mostly built on the pre-Internet musical rules of success: great music, adept management, word-of-mouth from devoted fans, and the quintessential “It” factor.
This is quite fitting given that one of the first conversations I had when I sat down to interview Taccone and Compton was about the innate disenfranchisement in an internet driven culture, or as Compton says, a “society where things are a little more disposable than they were before.”
The visceral allure of Electric Guest’s music is perfectly counterbalanced with a philosophical intelligence in the spirituality-infused lyrical storytelling.
[pullquote quote=” Honestly, I think the reason why we’re so culturally isolated is because technology, capitalism is f**king us up.” credit=”Asa Taccone”]Charmingly intense, Taccone infuses his typical laid-back demeanor with diplomatic, yet ardent expression of his personal beliefs–including the imposed cultural isolation of the internet:
“I just read these two articles. One guy in the New Yorker…He’s basically a really progressive thinker and he’s a computer programmer; he’s the guy who kind of coined the term ‘virtual reality.'”
“He was at the forefront of creating virtual reality. He had this kind of utopian vision for it, thinking that it would actually connect us…He just wrote this book about how he is basically disappointed in the past ten years of technology.
“He’s like ‘I go around the country and around the world…although everybody is connected to Facebook and lives by it, they are more connected out of fear than they are love.'”
Emphasizing his point, Taccone brought up the phrase “All the fun is happening somewhere else” which he saw on a satirical piece of graffiti art by the controversial British street art activist Banksy:
“[This signifies] our whole culture–it’s not here; it’s not to appreciate what’s right in front of you. The grass is greener in every facet of our lives. Honestly, I think the reason why we’re so culturally isolated is because technology, capitalism is f**king us up.”
“The most ironic part of this for me is the fact that people always get nostalgic and romanticize the past decades and parts of history, like ‘Oh, they were so connected. They had a meaning, this communal idea.'”
“And, I’m like, ‘Never before in history has it been more important and have their been more reasons to come together than right now.'”
[pullquote quote=”Never before in history has it been more important and have there been more reasons to come together than right now. ” credit=”Asa Taccone”]”I think that this will be the biggest thing we will have to face. Finding a balance in this totally imbalanced culture.”
Perhaps, Electric Guest’s time-period transcendent sound, personal life stories, and philosophical views can be summed up best by an “esoteric” old woman that Taccone met at Dunkin Donuts.
Not only did the woman signify Taccone with a sort of spiritual mission on this planet, Taccone explained that she provided his future band with a meaningful name:
“When I got the boot from high school, I went to this…”Get Your Life Together” [school]…They have school six days a week and on the seventh day, on Sundays, you had the day off and you could do something…There was this Dunkin Donuts, which, kind of, for me, symbolized freedom from that place. A couple times they let us stop in there.”
“Each time I went in there, I ended up talking to this old woman that worked in there and she was this kind of esoteric, New Age-y type person…we got into these conversations.
“The last time I saw her she grabbed my arm and said, ‘You are an electric guest of the universe.'”
“This Head I Hold”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Electric Guest[/lastfm]