Interview with Brian and Alon of Elephantronic
Interview and live pictures by Michael Coles
July 7th, 2007
Shawnee Cave Amphitheatre (aka Salt Petre Cave), conveniently located 15 minutes from where I live, is natural beauty in Southern Illinois where musical entertainment, thousands of people, and nature come together for fun-filled weekends of camping, dancing, and where people get to meet people from literally all over the United States - and some even from the other side of the globe. There isn't any other "venue" I'd rather go and see a show at due to knowing that I will have plenty of room to move, and where one is able to breathe the fresh air and not stupid-idiotic-retarded cigarette smoke.
I have been attending The Cave since I was a child (although it was a tad bit different then), but my first big experience at The Cave involving DJs and electronic music was The Cave Man Experience 2 back in 2004. Although electronic music is the main reason I go to The Cave, they also have other styles of music; or as a friend put it; "Music for hippies" (Bluegrass, folk music, etc.). Occasionally Hard-Rock and Metal is also performed at The Cave, but only on rare occasions. And just for history's sake, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Grateful Dead performed at The Cave back in their day, among other popular performers from the 60's and 70's.
The fact is, as soon as Infected Mushroom was over and with no disrespect towards anyone else performing that evening (I wasn't expecting much from anyone else); BAM!! Moments later after Infected Mushroom's set ended, my ears couldn't believe what they were hearing! Psychedelic-trance-like-beats that literally had me stomping uncontrollably the entire set, and I just did not want it to stop! I'm sorry folks, but if you left and went back to your tents after Infected Mushroom performed (they were the headliners), you missed out last year.
As time progressed and 2007's Underground Sound was approaching, the line-up for this year was finally posted. And although there wasn't anyone spinning that I was truly excited about seeing like I was anticipating for Infected Mushroom the previous year, I did become ecstatic when I finally noticed on the flyer that Elephantronic was indeed going to perform once again. Having added them as a friend to my MySpace account, I decided to write them and invite them to crash at my pad if they needed a cooler place to crash. Camping is all fun and dandy, but in July camping in this heat is insane! One of the biggest reasons I am so grateful I live 15 minutes away!
After writing to who knows who (I didn't know their names at the time), I was contacted back by Brian and said they (Brian and Alon) would think about my offer. Not really knowing what they were going to do or when they were going to arrive, Brian called me the day before their trek and asked me if my offer was still available. They ended up arriving into Murphysboro around 11am and they did indeed crash at my pad. After talking momentarily and getting all of their gear out of their car, I would have to have been blind not to notice that they were both about to pass out of exhaustion. After hearing they drove all night and most of the morning non-stop (with no air conditioner at that!), I told them I had errands to do and that my shower and beds were at their disposal.
The Outcast: Okay, I'm sitting here with Elephantronic's Brian and Alon. This is the second time you guys have performed at The Cave. Tell me about your experiences last year (2006) and what is your opinion of The Cave?
Brian: Last year we had a lot of fun.
Alon: It's crazy just too even think about.
Sherry: That's great, that's awesome.
Alon: It was quite a surprise for us actually. It was a great opportunity.
The Outcast: You told me earlier on today that Infected were the ones that influenced you guys to form Elephantronic, correct?
Alon: Yeah, we were both playing rock before this and once we heard Infected.........
Alon: Right, exactly (laughing).
Brian: Infected from the very first moment, changed my whole musical direction at the time. We were mostly into Rock music and then we heard these new sounds......
Alon: It's an approach to making sounds.
Brian: It's a different state of mind all together.
Alon: To be able to start from scratch, it's uh, it's nice. You can pick up a guitar, you plug it in, and the most you can do is distortion, delay, things like that. You know exactly how it's going to sound. When you start screwing around with these programs, you get into sounds and things...... You didn't even think about your solos.
The Outcast: You guys mentioned earlier that you guys are "changing your sound" and that you guys were going to do something different than last year. Elaborate for me please.
Brian: There's just a lot of new technology that we're getting into. Our musical tastes have expanded. We're exploring different genres within our genre.
Alon: It takes a while to explore.
The Outcast: Besides Infected Mushroom, is there anything or anyone else that has inspired Elephantronic?
Alon: Artists all over the world are inspiring us. Every so often we'll find a CD or a record or an artist that completely blows our understanding of this music, there are so many ways to approach it. It's really refreshing to be able to find things like that.
Brian: There's not so much ego. It's about bringing people together, dancing, having a group experience with the people and your surroundings, living in the moment and not worrying about the hectic life that we all live in.
Alon: There is an energy I feel when I'm at these events, it's a different experience, very primal and raw you know?
Brian: It's really fast and energetic the first time you hear it, but I can relax to this stuff all day long. I probably shouldn't be driving my car listening to this stuff (laughing).
The Outcast: It cracks me up that there are times that I will put the satellite music station at work on The System, a trance station, and the majority of my co-workers get mad at me. They don't understand it at all. Everyone around here listens to either Country or Rap.
Alon: People have a hard time approaching music that doesn't have lyrics.
The Outcast: Yeah.
Brian: A lot of music that you hear on the radio, you know, people put it on in the background just as a distraction. You don't analyze it, you hear some of the lyrics, there's a hook, every once in a while it will get in your head.
Sherry: People around here don't have an open mind when it comes to music.
Brian: If you put out a psychedelic-trance record, you're lucky..... You had a "good" record if you sold 2,000 copies. It's not about the money. If you're making a career of it, that's very fortunate
The Outcast: A lot of it is already up on-line so people can download it.
Brian: We've given all of our stuff away for free. Download it please, listen to it, that's what it's for, that's why we made it.
The Outcast: What other places has Elephantronic performed at besides at The Cave?
Brian: We started at...... just doing house parties in our basement. Experimenting.....
Brian: Experimenting with new crowds. This isn't a style of music that everybody hears in this country.
Alon: We do have a good background with drum and bass and harder techno. Hallucinogen-astro-projection songs. But in the U.S., every year bigger shows, bigger events, more people are listening to this style.
Brian: We're in our infancy and we're really happy to have the response that we have. We feel like we haven't even started yet.
The Outcast: So what's up with the name?
Alon: The name has a very corky beginning.
Brian: I was living in New Jersey and Alon was in school in St. Louis. We had this program, this music creation program and it was enough....
Alon: Called Reason, tech junkie...
Brian: It was enough that we could send files back and forth to each other while we were back in school. I'd do my part and he'd add his. We were liking what we were doing and we really wanted to develop it even more. We eventually needed a name for the project. Alon calls me up and he says; "eba". I don't know if he was smoking something, but I'm like; "It sounds cool man." So...Okay, fine. How do you spell it?"
Alon: "e-b-a" It was something simple that everyone could say, you know?
Brian: Okay, so 3 letters. If we did that people are bound to ask questions.
Alon: "what do they mean?" there were a lot of bizarre ideas floating around and we were joking about leaving it open for interpretation. After a while, one combination just stuck, sounded good.
Brian: The E could be elephant, something animal friendly, something with nature. Or it could have been electronic. The B could have been beats.
Alon: I think A was alliance.
Brian: An alliance, academy...
Alon: Long story.
Brian: Eventually, somehow, through this conversation we couldn't decide between elephant and electronic, so why don't we combine the words? Elephantronic and it just came out and it was Elephantronic Beats Alliance for a while (laughs).
The Outcast: I think it fits your sound for sure, because I couldn't quit stomping when I first saw you guys. So who came up with the logo and the elephant with the one electronic eye?
Brian: I did. When I was in school I took this web-design class, I was really bored at night and I just started working with it. It works for the time. I think we'd like to develop it more, it's a bit two dimensional.
The Outcast: So what do you guys think of the whole ecstasy (drug culture in general) that unfortunately usually follows these musical events?
The Outcast: Well, any closing words?
Brian: Keep in touch.
Alon: Have a good night (meaning at the show).
The Outcast: Yeah man, its 9(pm) something!
Alon: You ready for this!?
For downloads and contact, find them on MySpace!!