What started out as an experimental jam session between two percussionists from a long time jam band, The String Cheese Incident, has now become a nationwide phenomenon… With Michael Travis and Jason Hann holding the reins in EOTO, the duo has become the pioneers for a new genre of electronic music- live and improvised EDM. Locked and loaded with hi-tech equipment, software, and the latest Apple technology, multi-instrumentalist Michael Travis and percussionist, Jason Hann have sent a speeding bullet through the music-time-space continuum and spread a contagious dance fever across our country, hitting at least 200 shows a year. The two have been able to take one of the most popular DJing software, Ableton Live, and transform it into a tool that allows them to record all of their sounds and sequences in real time and then loop, re-loop, and remix the sounds throughout the concert.
An EOTO performance is truly the best of both worlds; combining finely tailored instrumental melodies and rhythms with aspects of several genres of electronic music. You’ll see Michael Travis up on the stage rocking the guitar, synthesizer, or his favorite, the bass, along with Hann ripping on his specially EQed drumkit or the bongos. This sonorous spectacle is accompanied by incredible visuals, as EOTO always travels with an artistically profound stage that employs 3D image mapping throughout the performance. Their concert at the Theatre of Living Arts this Saturday, February 1st, should be no exception, as it will include a one-of-a-kind light show.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to catch one of EOTO’s live performances, then you certainly know what we are talking about when we say that it is one of the most compelling musical-escapes of our day. Talk about personal- each show is unique, as the musical story passionately unfolds on the stage, right before your very eyes, no script! Each show is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if you have yet to become part of the EOTO experience… The Music Vibes hopes to see you at the Theatre of Living Arts on Saturday for your first trip. We also look forward to seeing all of you hardcore EOTO fans who have immersed yourselves in EOTOs musical universe on many occasions and who know that this time around will be just as wonderful and novel.
This week I had the wonderful opportunity, on behalf of The Music Vibes, to speak with Michael Travis, melodic instrumentalist from EOTO. He gave us the scoop on their music, influences, gear, stage visuals and lighting, and left us Philadelphian’s with a take-home message for the concert. Here is a little sneak peak of the interview:
Rebecca: Recording and looping your music live creates a multi-textural sound that allows you to add layers of different instruments into one song; essentially creating a live masterpiece that many producers strive to create over time in the studio. How did you guys come up with this brilliant idea of bringing electronic music to the next level, live and in real time?
Travis: As musicians first, we were both inspired by and appreciative of electronic music. In the jam world, improvisation is extremely important. It’s the current that made the Grateful Dead, the Grateful Dead. It’s this place where they go…beyond the ends of songs and into this uncharted territory where everyone could be present in the room. I have this sense that when musicians don’t know what is going to happen next, the whole audience joins them and it becomes a very elevated state. So, we wanted to infuse that feeling into the electronic music and thought that we knew how to do it. It took a lot of work to get to the point where it became convincing, that’s for sure!
Rebecca: So apart from the musical aspect of your shows, there is also an artistic and aesthetic theme that runs through your performances. . We were all quite impressed with the beauty and passion that was evoked through the visuals on your lotus stage last tour…
Rebecca: I understand that a newly designed stage will be debuted at your Theatre of Living Arts performance this Saturday…
Travis: Yeah, it’s going to be debuted this weekend. Our mad scientist of a lighting director, Devon Bryant, is going crazy on this whole vision that we kind of came up with together and we’ll see. We don’t even really know exactly what it’s going to look like. It’s very exciting, he’s just going to toss it in the middle of this whole thing.
Rebecca: We’re really excited about that. Also, I was wondering whether there is going to be a light show at your performance this weekend? The word on the street is that your light show last year at the Theatre of Living Arts was one of the best in all of Philadelphia.
Travis: Oh, wow. It was the lasers too maybe? There will certainly be a light show and there will be a big stage set up with projections. It should be pretty grand.
Rebecca: Can you tell us a little more about who is handing your lights on this tour?
Travis: Yeah, it’s this guy named Devon Bryant and he is the housemate of Zebbler, a famous lighting guy that worked with us for a number of years and is now working Shpongle and other projects. They all live together in this incredible, artistic household. This family of artists keeps springing out of this one ridiculous fun house in Boston, bringing us all kinds of super heroes.
Rebecca: It’s an artistic city; they even have art hanging in their subways.
Travis: Yeah, this house is kind of miraculous. It’s amazing. It’s like an old 5-story office building and the landlord just turns the other way and lets people do whatever the hell they want in there. And these guys are like drilling holes in floors and putting psychedelic rainbow ladders up to other levels, playing in ball pits, floating DJ tables and secret doors.
Rebecca: Oh my gosh!
Travis: So it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Rebecca: It sounds like another world! About your performance… We believe that a live EOTO performance takes the crowd on a journey into this crazy dancing universe where everyone gets so energized and into the music, but then is delivered safely back with a sense of peace. What is it that you would ideally like the Philly crowd to take home from your show this Saturday?
Travis: Well, my favorite moments with String Cheese, and they do happen with EOTO sometimes, but it’s more rare, is where the entire room lifts off and it just becomes so suspended that there is this ripple that goes across the whole audience and everyone forgets themselves a little and remembers the broader identity of everybody in the room, or everyone on the planet even, and uh kind of that lift off feeling is always my favorite to wish upon a show.
You heard him Philly! So all of you that will be entering the magic and mayhem that will be EOTO’s performance this Saturday at the Theatre of Living Arts, prepare for take off! Buy your tickets for Saturday’s show and join the dance party. The Music Vibes is ecstatic to be a part of the EOTO experience for the second year in a row, so get ready for some awesome photos of the 3D stage mapping and light show as well as a review of the performance that will contain the full interview with Michael Travis. See you all there!
Preview by Rebecca Wolfe
Interview by Rebecca Wolfe
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