TROPO is a live band with electronic tendencies, fusing a mastery of synths with skillful live violin and layered beats. Anthony John d’Almeida, a friend of plug.dj and hardcore user, recently went to Lightning in a Bottle and had the awesome opportunity to sit down with Tyson and Grant Leonard, the founding brothers of TROPO, which we now present to you in all its glory. Be sure to explore their raw yet ethereal tracks on their Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, and iTunes! And read Anthony’s LIB recaps here and here if you missed them back in June!
AJD: Tell me about your style and inspirations. How did this project come together?
TROPO: We’re really influenced by the electronic and DJ scene, but we’re live musicians–we don’t come from a DJ pedigree. We’re brothers and have been playing music together since we were kids. We learned violin together, and we’re just reflecting what’s happening in music. I find a lot of inspiration in DJs because they’re taking an already created form and producing an atmosphere. We’ve dabbled in a lot of styles, and don’t really try to go genre-specific. We’re just writing. Just making music. We used to be more instrumental, but we’re starting to bring in more vocals.
That’s just how things have been progressing. I think we have a positive message. At something like Lightning in a Bottle, there’s a spark in that special moment–you never know when that’s going to happen. Being live musicians, the audience affects us a lot. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
AJD: As much as people love electronic music today, audiences really respond when live instrumentation is used in an electronic set. How do you feel about this rise in interactivity and instrumentation–or lack thereof?
TROPO: We’re really into the electronic scene, but tired of folks that aren’t really doing anything interactive. A lot of my friends say they don’t care–they’re there to dance. We actually do care what producers are doing live, even if its just controlling one aspect of a track. I still respect the quality of some of these producers and what they’re doing with music whether or not their doing something interactive. However, we enjoy seeing something other than somebody up there dancing.
Technologically, we’re in a place now where a lot of things are possible as far as interactivity, but you have to be willing to go out on a limb. If you program your whole set all the way through and you just twist a knob or two, you can’t connect and respond to the audience in the same way.
AJD: What’s you opinion of the state of electronic music and the music industry in general?
TROPO: We all know the music industry of the past is dead. The industry now is mostly musicians helping musicians. There are fewer middlemen–the festival people directly to the artists; the artists directly to the fans. There’s less of this star power–it’s all about the music and the experience.
AJD: Have you been to LIB before?
TROPO: We’ve been coming to LIB for several years, setting up our own camp in the beginning. A few years ago, we were able to play in the Temple of Consciousness. Last year we played the Grand Artique.
AJD: And this year you’re on the Main Stage!
TROPO: Yeah! It’s always been a dream to play here. Lightning in a Bottle has been a pretty big influence. Some of these artists are from outside this community, and LIB is showcasing variety. Half of these artists, though, were brought up in this scene. They were born in this, and I feel like we were too. From going to these transformational festivals like LIB and Burning Man, we continue to grow with the artists and the audience.
TROPO: We use Ableton Live. We used to have all this analogue stuff but we’ve starting parsing things down. We got rid of monitors, amps, and outboard gear, and now everything you hear is going through Ableton and mixed with live drums.
AJD: What’s on the horizon for TROPO?
TROPO: More festivals, more touring. We’re also in discussions about our next release focusing on more vocal tunes, with some really banging band versions of them. So far all our CDs are are live–no overdubs. We just play the CD from beginning to end and release it. We’re doing this new record now, and talking to a great producer and sound engineer, Keith Olsen. We’ve been thinking about releasing our new tracks to a variety of remix producers to put out a well-rounded dance EP. We’ve always been a live band, but we love the club scene, too.