Electronic duo Bob Moses makes Aspen debut at JAS After Dark show
If You Go …
Who: Bob Moses
Where: JAS After Dark, Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, Sept. 2, 10 p.m.
How much: $49-$89
Tickets: Belly Up box office; www.bellyupaspen.com
Over the past year and a half, the electronic duo Bob Moses has had a ubiquitous club hit in “Tearing Me Up,” got a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording and a win for Best Remix, and landed on the stages at premier festivals from Coachella to Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.
But the pair’s sound was born in late-night Brooklyn warehouse parties and its live show was honed in small clubs around the U.S. So they should fit right in at Saturday night’s JAS After Dark set at Belly Up Aspen.
“It suits us better in a way,” producer and keys player Jimmy Vallance said from Los Angeles on a recent tour break. “That’s what we came from. … It’s just by happenstance that we ended up becoming a festival act. It wasn’t intentional. So we feel very much at home in smaller venues and clubs, because we did that circuit for so long.”
The duo’s signature organic sound lays lush vocals from Tom Howie over Vallance’s low-end minimalist instrumental tracks.
In a lot of electronic dance music, the listener can tell that a vocal has simply been slapped onto an existing instrumental. Bob Moses won’t do that. Their smooth sound is a result from a tight collaborative partnership between Howie and Vallance. Both can do anything and everything in the band. Howie sings on the records and in concert, but Vallance still writes some vocal harmonies. They collaborate on lyrics. Both can produce and build electronic tracks.
“We both do everything on the records,” Vallance said. “The coolest thing about this project is that there are maybe 10 different ways that we go about writing a song.”
The Bob Moses origin story goes this way: Vallance and Howie were high school classmates in Vancouver but didn’t know each other. In 2012, they met up by chance in New York — where both had relocated to pursue music — and went into the studio together on a lark. Thus, Bob Moses was born.
But it took about a year for the pair to find the Bob Moses sound.
“We came together with the idea of wanting to write the best songs that we could over what we thought was the most inspiring production of the time: electronic music,” Vallance said.
Both came from rock band backgrounds. The pair dug into the possibilities of electronic production and immersed themselves in the eclectic New York and Brooklyn scenes and found a niche. They hooked up with the Brooklyn-based record label Scissor & Thread, and quickly started making a name for themselves.
“We basically took that dark, smoky house sound from these parties and started writing songs over the top of it,” Vallance explained. “I guess we were lucky that the scene embraced it and we started running with it.”
The band’s live show tends to be more dance-friendly than you might expect after hearing the low-key Bob Moses recordings. They play with a live drummer, with Howie playing guitar and singing, while Vallance plays keys and DJs.
“When you listen at home it’s like, ‘Oh, this is a chill, nice-sounding thing,’” Vallance said. “But all the low-end comes out live, so it sounds more overpowering than it does at home or on headphones. We try to tap into that.”
They’ve been on the road supporting their breakout album “Days Gone By” for almost two years now, so they’ve perfected how to make these tracks work in a live setting.
“We’ve tried to give it the live energy of a rock band, but at the same time it flows together like a DJ set,” Vallance said. “We don’t have those stops and starts of a rock show. It’s a continuous flow.”
Though still touring heavily, they’re working on new material. Vallance said they’re in the studio making new music every day that they’re not on the road. Their popularity has been a welcome surprise, but it’s not changing the way Bob Moses does things.
“All you can hope for is to make music and connect with people who understand what you’re trying to do,” Vallance said.
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