The live musical project EOTO, formed by Michael Travis and Jason Hann, has been improvising their sets since 2006 and they look to continue their nearly decade long jam session. However, this is much more than a simple jam session; with a broad range of gear and instruments these guys pump out music on the fly while their Lotus stage fills out the audience’s experience with stunning visual content.
A truly unique experience, EOTO is the definition of once in a lifetime. Improvising a show is not easy and having to worry about mapping that to the visuals of the Lotus does not help. The crew manages; and they manage pretty well in fact having grown a following of over one hundred thousand on Facebook. We talked with EOTO to get an inside scoop on what the project is all about, how they got started and what is to come. Check out the Your EDM interview below and check to see if EOTO is stopping near you anytime soon!
Your EDM Interview:
1. What made you guys initially want to do this live EDM project?
We come from a live music background. We love to improvise and feel like part of the excitement of an improvised band is that neither the band or the audience is going to know what happens next. We took this into account when we started think of what our band would be like.
Back in 2005 we were fooling around with different instruments, and improvising music from 10pm-5am night after night. We were both also into producers like Tipper, Bassnectar, and SOTEG (Bill Bless) and loved the bass sounds and breakbeat style (at that time). We also liked live bands that were playing electronic music like The Bays (out of UK), STS9, and Siamese (out of Seattle). At some point we involved pedal loopers (Echoplex) to make our improvised jams more fun. That allowed us to start recording and stacking parts on top of parts live and in the moment so we sounded like more than 2 people. I had already been playing around with Ableton version 2 at the time and suggested that we go computer based to have ultimate control our sound. Soon after, we played our first show at the first Sonic Bloom in Colorado in 2006.
We love the challenge of playing improvised EDM all night, and to this day, we are still the only ones able to pull it off. Everyone else uses pre-recorded and produced tracks/clips to aid them. We enjoy and respect that process too, but doing it 100% live is our thing that still excites us the most. We don’t have any songs or set lists, and you will never hear the same thing from us once it is created that night.
2. Why’d you guys pick the original name End Of Time Observatory?
We went through about 20 different names. Our first billing at Sonic Bloom was as “Xaos” (trivia) and at some point, Michael Travis came up with End Of Time Observatory. We both went “oooooooh” and had them change the name on the billing.
3. So, who plays what instruments?
I (Jason) play acoustic drums, do the vocals, and play an African percussion instrument called “Djembe (pronounced Gem-bay). I also do live remixing and use 4 iPads running Lemur app and OSC app, and 1 MIDI Fighter midi controller. I have about 150 different “buttons” and “knobs” programmed for turning a bunch of efx on and off. It’s pretty much a space station controller setup. All of my gear runs through my computer, running Ableton 9. That all lets me freak and tweak and glitch out any of my sounds as well as our overall mix going to the audience.
Travis plays guitar, six string bass, synths, and tom-tom drums. His synths are Novation Bass Station II, Nord Lead, and Roland Gaia. He also uses 2 Korg Kaoscillator Pros, as well as Reason for more sounds. He uses 2 Behringer MIDI controllers and also runs all of his gear through Ableton, so he can mess with all of his sounds in the moment.
4. Who are some of your guys influences?
I mentioned some of the early ones above. We also listened to Telefon Tel Aviv, Derrick Carter, BT, Thievery Corp, Everything But The Girl, Zero 7, Shpongle, and Massive Attack when we were first forming. In 2008, Skream, Caspa, Rusko, and Benga influenced our sound, and in 2009 Excision was a strong influence. Now, we listen to lots on our own and those influences get mixed in naturally when we play. Calvertron, Mr Bill, Joe Ford, Trifonic, Ajapai, Opiuo are some. There’s a ton, though. These days, you can like a producer and the music changes so quickly, that by the time 6 months passes, there’s something else that triggers inspiration.
5. Would you guys want to collaborate with another EDM band, like Pretty Lights, Destroid or even someone like Beardyman?
All of the above artists sound great to collab with. Up til this point, we’ve only had live musicians sit in with us, from the drummers of Stomp to jazz guitarist Stanly Jordan. We really want to make stems of what we do in our improvised madness, and let other producers remix all of that at some point.
6. Is there a performance you guys have done that really sticks out in your guys minds?
That’s a tough one. We’ve probably played over 850 shows since 2006 and there’s a bunch of highlights. One that sticks out as I’m writing was when we got to finally play The Village Stage at Shambhalla (Canada) a couple of years ago. We played a couple of times before than on other stages there, but would always feel like the Village had the best sound system on the planet, and we had so many good musical experiences checking out other acts on that stage. They didn’t have any bands play there as it only accommodated a DJ setup. When they redesigned the stage, they asked us to be the first band to play on that stage. It was soooo satisfying to play on that sound system for that crowd at that festival. One of our many special moments, for sure.
7. Any plans for another studio album in the future?
We’re always thinking about it, but not actively pushing it right now. We’re proud that we’ve released almost 600 of our shows at our music archive site. Our schedule is so crazy that when we have open time, we both cherish our home time. I (Jason) live in Los Angeles and Travis lives in Boulder.
8. What’s 2014 looking like for EOTO?
Looking up as always. Lots of touring clubs and festivals like we do. We just played our first shows of tour, this past weekend, and everything felt so fresh, in terms of musical ideas and transitions. You could tell we hit another level and it got us excited that we can still go to places that we haven’t thought of before. We also have our new production out with us called “The Observatory” which is our projection mapping stage setup. We got “top 10 touring production” recognition from touring with our “Lotus” projection mapping for the past 2 years. Now we want it to evolve into a different thing to emphasize the audiences live experience. We’ve added lots of live cameras that can project our image onto a large screen in back of us and on 5 different columns situated on the stage. Our projectionist can morph all of the live footage as well as include animated materiel to make it an alien watchtower. Throw in some super advanced laser controllers and we’ve got a killer visual production to emphasize the musical journey.