Robert DeLong | Existential Whiz Kid

prof robert-delong_75According to his Facebook page, Robert DeLong is “shorter than Conan but taller than Daniel Radcliffe.”


Electronic artist, singer/songwriter, techie, and philosophy lover Robert DeLong has had an exciting year in music so far, and it’s not over yet.

The CMJ October Mixtape features his song “Global Concepts” as the lead track, which has been getting good vibes. He played South by Southwest (SXSW) earlier this year, is currently doing a residency at The Echoplex in Los Angeles Monday nights in October, and will play several shows at CMJ 2012. Later this year, DeLong will be playing the main stage at SnowGlobe December 30, along with Deadmau5 and Madeon.

DeLong was recently picked up by Glassnote Records in June, the same label that represents Phoenix, The Temper Trap, Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Childish Gambino, and others.

Let’s start at the top:

prof robert-delong_500

You were raised in Seattle and then moved to LA. What was it like growing up in Seattle, and did that influence your music?

I lived there until I was 18, and then moved to L.A. for college, and have been living here for about eight years. It absolutely influenced my music; I grew up in the middle of Death Cab, Modest Mouse, all that stuff. I think that kind of seeps into my music, definitely.

I must ask, are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?

[Laughs] I don’t pay much attention to Twilight, but one of my middle names is Edward, so I’d have to pick Team Edward. I have two middle names, which is kind of cool: Charles Edward.

You could be an English king with those middle names.

Ha ha, yeah. It’s cool.

You started playing drums at 10, and you made money off of it later on in life.

I grew up playing drums. My dad was a drummer so they were all around the house. When I was 10, I started taking lessons. Up until about three months ago, that’s how I made money: teaching drum lessons, playing, et cetera.

You went to university in L.A.?

Yeah, I went to Azusa Pacific University, a weird little Christian university.

What did you study?

Music production. Everyone was in the core music program; most of the time, I studied drums and music theory.

And it was a Christian university. How was that?

[Laughs] I was kind of on edge. It’s good, though.

robert delong 250Who are your musical influences?

The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Death Cab, Modest Mouse, Seattle bands, Radiohead… When I moved to L.A., over time, I started getting into the dance scene. I was always going out to shows and checking out what’s new.

Who or what inspires you?

Reading about popular science and philosophy; beyond that, I don’t know. It’s usually just ideas and thinking about philosophy and popular science, whatever electronic music I stole ideas from.

A lot of people ask you how you would describe your music, so let’s change it up a bit. How would you not describe your music?

Hmm… People can talk about it however they want, really. But they shouldn’t say metal [laughs], because I have nothing to do with metal. I describe it and it’s kind of nonsense; just listen to the music and figure it out.

Fair enough. You’ve got a posse of instruments on stage. What instruments are involved?

Some different midi controls like buttons, knobs, keypads, all things connected to my computer; game controls like my Wii mote, joystick, and game pad; and then I have some percussion: my drum set and, of course, microphones.

That’s cool. All those game controllers.

Yeah, people love that. It kind of came out of “I own these things,” and I tried to figure out how I could mesh it with music, and I kind of made it my thing.

Another thing of yours are those bright orange X’s everywhere. What is that about? Pardon me for not knowing.

It kind of started a few years back, around two-and-a-half years ago, when I first started playing shows. Initially, it started as something my girlfriend painted on my headphones and people kind of identified as my thing. People have been street-teaming them all around, covering L.A. and NYC.

You’ve got a residency at The Echoplex every Monday, correct? That’s pretty sweet.

Yep, I have three more Mondays that I’m playing at The Echoplex, then the 22nd, I’ve got CMJ.

Let’s talk upcoming shows, because there are two in particular that I just can’t get enough of. You’ve got two shows at CMJ?

Yeah, I’ve got about six more that haven’t been officially announced yet. A lot of two-a-days and stuff like that. Some of them are private things. I’ll be playing shows every day.

Are you excited? Scared?

Yeah, I’m super excited. You’re running around so much you don’t have time to be nervous or think about being nervous.

And SnowGlobe: We must talk about that. Some big-name artists, huh?

Yeah, that’s going to be radical. I’m a big fan of the Mouse [Deadmau5], and super excited to be on the main stage; there are so many great artists performing there.

I’ve got to ask about the “Tribe of Orphans.” Please explain who they are and how on earth they got that name.

It was something totally separate from me initially. My girlfriend would go out to dance with her friends to electronic events and get all dressed up. As I started playing shows, everyone started going to shows and they would all get all dressed up. It’s been an organic kind of thing, people who come out and like to party and have a good time.

What is the weirdest thing a fan has ever said to you? And, more importantly, did you like it?

I can’t imagine anything too weird. I can’t even think of anything weird; mostly they say nice things, which is great.

Your Facebook page says you are “shorter than Conan but taller than Daniel Radcliffe.” You’re a Harry Potter fan?

Yeah; I read all of the books and saw all of the movies, so I guess that kind of makes me a fan. It’s kind of addicting once you start. [Laughs]

Finally, let’s talk about “Global Concepts,which was released over the summer.

It was something I recorded this past year. We had a short radio promotion/mail-out that had that and “Happy” on it, and a couple of radio stations picked it up and started playing it. There is more of a vinyl version on the album when it comes out. The single will officially be released before the end of year, but the one that everyone is hearing now is sort of like a demo/pre-release.

And, it made CMJ’s October mixtape.

Yeah, I get a lot of love from CMJ.

It seems like there is a lot of love for “Global Concepts” on a lot of music blogs, and they like that they can use the quote “Did I make you fucking dance?”


Last question: Is it okay if you make people dance, or do they have to fucking dance?

[Laughs] I prefer the profanity, but it’s whatever people like. | Kristyn Potter

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