An undiluted love for music has taken Rob Garza places (quite literally) – from performing in the Himalayas to the most obscure clubs worldwide, the founding member of American electronica duo ‘Thievery Corporation’ is always in exploration mode.
That’s possibly why he branched out and started his solo DJ career after 18 years in the industry. Metrolife caught up with the producer before his set at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender.
Recalling the early days of ‘Thievery Corporation’, Rob says, “It was really exciting because we were just doing it to have fun and never thought that we’d make a career of it. We were just making our music and decided to release some vinyls. All of a sudden, we were travelling, getting to see different parts of the world and playing our music. I remember those times with a great fondness and am still happy doing what we do.”
While ‘Thievery Corporation’ fuses electronica with dub, trip hop, reggae and ‘bossa nova’, Rob’s solo work has a lot more deep house and nu-disco influences. Asked whether it was tough to make the transition, he replies, “It’s actually been quite easy. After I moved to San Francisco, people started asking me to DJ, which I hadn’t done in a while. When they heard the new stuff, they liked it and started encouraging me. It’s been really great!”
“Back when I was 19, I started off as an electronic musician making techno records. Getting back into production has made me passionate again because it’s a side I haven’t explored for a long time,” he reminisces, adding that ‘Thievery Corporation’ is still in full form and has a new record coming up early next year.
Comparing the two projects, Rob notes, “It’s always great to go out with a band and play live. But there’s also something liberating in being able to go out by yourself and getting into the atmosphere of a room where everybody’s just getting off on the music.” Travel is as consistent in his life as music, leading to collaborations and influences that reflect this fact. “I’m travelling every week to different parts of the globe.
I love being in new places and meeting new people. As artistes, that sense of exploration affects what we do and how we do it,” shares the self-proclaimed ‘international music explorer’.
When it comes to collaborations, he feels lucky to have worked with some of his favourite artistes like ‘Neighbour’, Emilíana Torrini and David Byrne (of ‘Talking Heads’). “I’ve to be a fan of their music and get along with them. Sometimes, you don’t know exactly what clicks but it just makes for a great collaboration,” says Rob.
Talking about his songwriting process, he says, “I just get into the studio and start playing around with instruments till stuff starts to happen. It’s a very natural and organic process.”
Though Rob is not well-versed with independent music in India, he is familiar with the likes of Anoushka Shankar, with whom he has collaborated in the past.
On his upcoming India trip, he says, “To be honest, I don’t know what to expect. But I’m looking to go over, have a great time, share my music and just enjoy being there.”