Interview by Parisa Eshrati
I had a chance to speak with electro-funk artist Eliot Lipp via email in anticipation for his set at this year's Gem and Jam Festival. We discussed the evolution of his sound, the process of creating his new album, juicing and more.
Listening to your discography, you can hear more and more layers being added as your career progresses. On the technical side it could be due to the fact that your equipment has changed over the years, but I imagine there's more to it than just the equipment. What has driven you to make your sound more intricate?
The point I'm trying to make with my music has gotten a little more complicated. At first, I just wanted something with lots of bass and good drums for my friends to rap over. Now I want every album to be like a soundtrack to my life during the period I spend making it. I want my music to capture my feelings in hopes that the listener will get those same feelings when they play it. It isn't meant to be intricate. I'm just trying to convey these vibes.
Several years ago you took a mixing and mastering class that's helped you develop technical skills of being a producer. What have been some of the learning experiences of being more in control of your music's overall output?
I always want to add more chords and more samples to my music, now that my mixes are way cleaner I can open up that space to keep adding or to make complicated elements of the track easier to hear. I'm still learning about mixing & mastering, my buddy Daniel Wyatt does courses at mixmasterwyatt.com. Ive been taking the online courses and he has taught me a ton.
You've also been getting more into music theory lately. Has that changed your approach to creating a song?
Not necessarily, I never had a problem structuring songs but I'm now starting to understand the relationship between the different scales. I organize all my samples based on what key they're in so my workflow is smoother as well.
I know you're also really into 70s jazz fusion. Are there specific techniques from that era that you draw inspiration from? Is it difficult to translate that kind of improvisational energy into electronic music?
When I do shows with my drummer, Cru Jones, we improvise quite a bit. Collaborating with other musicians is really my favorite way to perform. The thing I love most about that 70s fusion era is the juxtaposition of intricate playing and negative space. Weather Report, Return to Forever, George Duke, Herbie, etc... they would rock out for a minute and then just chill for a while with the synths bleeping and droning. I love that shit.
I was reading in another interview how you like being in NY because it's not necessarily a hot spot for electro-funk and you can be exposed to a lot of other wordly influences. What specific cultures or aspects of NY have you been inspired by?
I've been in the Northwest for the last year or so. I haven't spent much time in NY lately. I've mostly been spending my free time in the Olympic mountains or biking the foothills of Mt Rainier. Making up for the lack of nature I experienced while living in NY.
I've heard you're really into juicing. What're your favorite juice combos? You ever make muffins with the extra pulp?
I like ginger lemonade a lot. And super green smoothies.
Your next album, according to a FB post, is about 87% finished. I know you like playing some unfinished tracks for crowds to get a reaction. Have you already played some of this material live? If so, how have you shaped it since seeing the audiences' responses?
I made this one start to finish with very little outside influence, It's not so much a record for the club as much as it is for earbuds and long drives.
Your album Shark Wolf Snake Rabbit's theme was developed from your friend's painting. Is there any artwork that's driving the theme for this record?
I'm trying to get this dude to let me use a photo he took that is a major inspiration, we're negotiating over the cost at the moment.
All your songs start with samples, so what kind of music have you sampled thus far for the upcoming album?
Tons of Funk and Soul, a little classical (always for the strings), and some 60's jazz. I can't really name names because I don't want to get sued lol.
I saw on Instagram that you still fucks hard with Angry Birds. What else do you fucks with nowadays when you're not recording?
I fucks with long hikes in the woods, hikes on train tracks and hikes through Seattle.
Finally, what can we look forward from you in 2016? Any collaborations in the works?
I'm working with a vocalist from Tacoma who goes by Echoes in Sleep. We're making music with his guitar loops and my beats, it's pretty raw compared to my other stuff.
Eliot Lipp will be performing at this year's Gem and Jam. For tickets and info:
For more info on Eliot Lipp: