Time to take a journey into some more electronic fueled tunes my lovelies. Now, before you get hell bent on not reading about this band because it says ‘electronic’ in that last sentence, know that this band masters mixing electronic elements with live instruments to create a harmonious and pleasing balance of retro sounding electro-pop-rock. I have openly admitted to being wary of anything with ‘electronic’ in it, so any band featured here has depth to their music beyond empty booming drum loops and basic synth sounds.
Letting Up Despite Great Faults brought themselves to my attention a while back and I was curious based on the name alone. I went to their site to scope out their releases and stumbled upon their newest album, ‘Untogether’. This is an album that will make you happy and break your heart at the same time. The vocals are whimsical and hushed which creates quite an interesting avenue to enhance the darker side of their lyrics. They also have both male/female vocals going on some of their tracks, which plays out nicely. These vocals paired with the mix of live/sampled drums, bass, guitar and keys/synth in upbeat tempos, you can’t help but dreamily bounce along to every track on this album. My personal picks from the album are ‘In Steps’, ‘Visions’, and ‘Sophia In Gold.
Letting Up Despite Great Faults is comprised of Mike Lee- Vocals/Guitar, Daniel Schmidt- Drums, Kent Zambrana- Bass, and Annah Eisette- Keys/vocals. Though based in Austin, Tx, this killer set of musicians have been travelling far and wide playing their amazing tunes, Japan, Mexico, LA, and beyond.
The members of Letting Up Despite Great Faults were kind enough to take some time to answer some questions for BBB, so read on to find out about their influences, why they aren’t some ‘Oz laptop shit’, and when music became ‘more interesting than soccer’.
When and why did each of you start playing?
Mike: I started teaching myself how to play guitar in Jr. High by learning all the songs that would get published in Guitar World. Funny when I think back, I never had a subscription but every month I would make my dad buy me the new issue at the grocery store. So not cost effective.
Kent: I grew up pretending I was in a band. It just seemed like a natural progression come high school.
Annah: I started taking lessons when I was in 2nd grade after my mom signed me up. I loved it and stuck with it ever since.
Daniel: Age 12. Music started being more interesting than soccer so I started taking lessons. Did that for 2 years.
How did you all meet, and why Austin?
Kent and I met in LA in 2005. We played with a bunch of different friends out there, but it wasn’t until I moved to Austin in Feb when we found Daniel and Annah here. We’re mainly in Austin because this is where Kent wants to be (his family is in Texas) but it’s also a great, eclectic city with a small town feel. The arts are truly supported here and it’s worth it just to not rent a place for SXSW.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
I was lucky enough to have an older brother who listened to Joy Division, The Cure, and The Smiths. I did like listening to some other things like New Edition and Public Enemy. I guess I listen to more electronic music now. Like, I didn’t grow up listening to Kraftwerk or YMO but I wish I did.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
Ones who don’t complain about the music industry. I admire artists who make their art and never ask for anything in return. Like, can you imagine Elliott Smith complaining about a missed royalty check? I’m not into Andrew W.K.’s music but his outlook is so great. Just have a good time, what’s the big deal?
Why the name Letting Up Despite Great Faults?
It seemed a good idea at the time to illustrate just how self-deprecating I am.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
We wanted to perform everything live so we don’t use any loops in our set. We break down every recorded riff into separate samples that we can play back note for note. We add some effects on top of that where it gives everyone more room for dynamics. Daniel plays a live kit but also has a drum pad to play drum samples. Even on that he’ll sometimes use a filter knob with his left hand while hitting the electronic drum pad and then immediately go into the live kit. We try to make things interesting but also transparent enough where you can start to understand what we’re doing and it’s not some wizard of oz laptop shit.
How does your creative process typically work?
The writing starts at home with me but the more we play, the more we practice, and the more we all talk, it becomes a bit like a feedback circle where ideas and criticisms become intertwined all the while with a, hopefully, forward movement. The tricky part has been to never a formula for songwriting or else I know I will ultimately become bored of it all.
What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?
It’s not really a break so to speak, but getting our manager was a big deal to me. He really helps keep the momentum up at all times, and the project could have very well ended if he weren’t around. Knowing that someone sacrifices his time into you as a sort of investment is also always motivational.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
Trying not to read reviews, etc. I want to stay in touch with our fans online but that inevitably leads to seeing all different kinds of opinions about you. Since we’re not a big band most of the things have been positive (I’m assuming if people don’t like us they just don’t bother writing about us since who cares). But even positive reviews can play mind tricks with you when writing. It’s definitely a difficult task to try to write without this kind of circle of song output/listener input. But, maybe I shouldn’t just be an output, maybe that’s too self-centered. I don’t know.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you the rest of this year?
I’ve been working on a lot of new songs. I’m always fiddling around, but it’s been a heavy dose of writing recently. Making Untogether was a big hurdle for me emotionally and technically and I feel like I’m at a point where I can really translate what’s in my head into a song and so I’m trying to take advantage of that. As for the rest of the year, we our touring Japan and doing some local shows before we all spend some time with our families for the holidays.
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan,what would it be?
If they like indie pop or a little shoegaze and/or electro then we might have a good shot with them. If they like getting melancholy and dance at the same time, then let’s be best friends please.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
The fear of pirated music. Some people will steal things because they are valuable but most people will steal things that aren’t worth very much. The idea the majors hold that they should make money off music needs to change from a right to a privilege. Once you start offering things of true value (both content-wise and product-wise), people will give you their hard earned money.
FIND LETTING UP DESPITE THE FAULTS HERE: