By Matt Oakes
Thieves steal to make a living therefore, the name Thievery Corporation is subtlety ironic for a Washington, D.C. based electronic duo. During the past half decade, Eric Hilton and Rob Garza successfully created a new and unique sound, which is a breath of fresh air to an increasingly stale and redundant electronic music scene.
Over a couple of cocktails in 1995, the two exchanged ideas about their mutual discontent for the current state of synthetically created music.
"Electronic music has become so predictable," says Hilton. "Certain sounds that you hear over and over again, I couldn’t be more turned off by stuff like that. Most of the time you just hear these canned sounds that come off a keyboard or canned beats that come off a drum machine."
In the music industry, thieving other’s ideas and sounds is common practice for electronic composers. Nevertheless, it is how a group arranges old ideas into new ones that sets a group apart from their peers. It is the blend of the synthetic with the organic and the creation of real sounding tracks that appeals most to Hilton about his style of music.
"I don’t like electronic music in general unless it sounds convincing. When we are making music we are making it synthetically, but in the end we want it to sound believable and real–like an organic piece of music."
The evidence is in their latest release, The Mirror Conspiracy. Hilton and Garza use a warm, natural instrumentation to integrate trumpet, sax, string bass and sitar with electronic sounds to create a framework that sets the stage for seductive vocals. The rhythms are complex and creative, yet not over-embellished. Hilton sees this as the key to Thievery Corporation’s unique sound.
"A famous classical composer once said that it is not the notes themselves that are genius, it is the space between them. A lot of times it is not what you do, but what you don’t do. The goal should be not to throw everything in your song except the kitchen sink. It is just like you are painting a picture. If you fill up every inch of the canvas it would just be a big brown splotch. So you have to have some space so the sounds can breathe."
The future for the group is very promising. Their worldwide record sales are increasing and that goes for Canada as well. They were featured on MuchMusic, and the single "Lebanese Blonde" graced the charts for months. They are currently in the studio recording their latest effort which is due for release this coming September.
Thievery Corporation, a duo fusing dub, ambient, bossa nova, hip hop and sleek latin-flavoured acid jazz into a concoction that’s as fresh as skydiving naked in January, is striving to inject new life into a flat-lining down-tempo scene desperately in need of the cardiac defibrillator. The DC twosome may capitalize on previously recorded sounds, but they are certainly not thieves.