Interview by: Chris Conte
Photos by: Juliana Bernstein (Get Tiny Photography)
Autograf is creating a whole new standard for dance music. This act from Chicago takes live instrumentation to a new level. Autograf is taking their shows into their own hands by breaking boundaries and creating their own atmosphere. I had the chance to ask them a few questions about how to hurdle these obstacles and what is next for them.
Before you read the interview, check out Autograf's new remix of GRiZ, taking "For The Love" featuring Talib Kweli and turning it into a chilled-out late summer jam.
You guys are doing something completely unique by bringing obscure instruments like the marimba into live electronic dance music. What was your reason for incorporating instruments like that?
It provided a unique sound and a different way of playing that really worked with the vibe we were creating. Also, it was a huge plus that Jake already had played for many years [laughs].
Have there been some hurdles to overcome with your live setup?
Right now our biggest hurdle is that we have all these ideas we want to incorporate – like more instruments and a visual setup – but with flying to shows and working within a budget, we have to build the setup slowly.
What type of music are you trained in?
We have done a lot in the past, from being part of drumline to playing in metal bands in high school. On the production side, it was mostly self-taught. We would come home at night and it was like a video game. Forums and videos helped a lot. Eventually we really got into the technical side of mixing and mastering. One year of working on the craft is better then trying to go to school for a few years.
What genre is your biggest inspiration and which artists within the genre?
Soul was a big influence to us. We also looked to the music of different native cultures around the world. Just pulling from the past and giving it a modern twist was a big part of it. Obviously, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder are huge to us.
You create your own stage installations. How did this come about?
That was actually the start of Autograf. We just wanted to do a party what was different from all the EDM shows that were going on, so we took on the huge effort of building a ton of crazy props and throwing a fun show. It probably helped that we came from an art background, too.
What is the creative process like between you?
A lot of bouncing music out, sending it back and forth, getting input and then jumping back into the studio.
Which festival are you most excited to play?
It’s hard to pick just one, because we have not experienced most of the ones we are playing, but Electric Forest was incredible. Hope you kept a lookout, as we did a show on a renegade stage out of a bus that we bought. We invited a bunch of the homies to come play, too.
Where did the idea for the name Autograf come from?
We were thinking about what it means to make music and art, and the way it leaves an impression on the world. And then there’s the whole idea of inspiring others to leave their mark with anything they do, not even limited to music or art.
That’s the whole idea of #LeaveYourAutograf.
What is next for Autograf?
We are almost done with our album, so you will start seeing singles come out over the rest of the year. Besides that, we hope to help inspire others to follow their dreams and to #LeaveYourAutograf.