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Bear Creek 2012: Interview with Jesse Miller of LOTUS

Bear Creek was incredible. A part of our experience in the amazing Live Oak venue was getting to chat with Lotus’ Jesse Miller. We discuss Lotus’ electronic infuence, live sets and their upcoming releases. Enjoy!

DubEra.com: First off, I want to thank you for your time, go ahead and introduce yourself to our readers.

Jesse Miller: Yeah no problem. I’m Jesse Miller, I play bass for the band Lotus.

DE: Now, what sets Lotus apart from other bands that are rocking music festivals today?

JM: Well I think Lotus really has a unique sound. I don’t feel like we fit in really easily in a genre. We draw from a lot of electronic influences but we’re very much a rock band and we also do some more instrumental post-rock. There’s some jam things in there, but I wouldn’t say what we do is a very traditional jam kind of sound. It covers a lot of different ground. To me it’s all just this sound that is Lotus.

DE: What sort of electronic artists influence you guys? 

JM: We’ve been a band for a long time and one thing that’s influenced us from the get-go is anything that has a really good groove. I think early on when the really ravey stuff was happening in the later 90s, we really went for the more ambient house and a little bit more psychedelic stuff. I think the Orb and Underworld early on were really big for us. As for now, some of my favorites are Four Tet, Burial, Siriusmo, Caribou, some of the artists that don’t necessarily have such a digital sound. There’s something kind of natural about their sound. There’s a vibe there and the quality of sounds are good and the grooves are good. That’s what I look forward to in good electronic music.

DE: And you guys have covered Daft Punk, Justice and Deadmau5 in your sets. What made you want to do that?

JM: It’s difficult for us to pick who we cover. When we do we want to make it something really recognizable. We usually go in to what would be more poppy than our influences, but if we’re covering something we want most people to have an idea of what it is. If it were up to me we’d be having the band cover obscure Kraftwerk songs and it would probably be over the head of a lot of our fan-base. I think when we hear those tracks we hear a good groove and a good melody. I think even though this is something more poppy than Lotus, we can pull it in and make it something that’s our sound and it really goes off inside of our set.

DE: In 2008 you guys began to put your live sets up on livedownload.com. How has that contributed to the listenability and popularity of your band?

JM: We’ve always been interested [in livedownloads], but we’ve never had the technical capability. We started off slow, doing 4-track recordings then 8-track recordings and then eventually doing 18-track recordings and now we’re doing 36-track recording. Basically full multi-tracks. And we could get it to a place where we had a quality that was good enough to release. It fills multiple roles for the fans. It’s obviously great because if they saw a show live, taking in that whole experience is one thing. But if you want to go back and listen to in greater detail and that recording is available and sounds good then that is a totally different experience. Remembering certain parts from the show and digging deeper… there’s something more there. That’s the main reason, for people who saw a show and want to listen to a show. The other side is people who can’t go to shows but want to keep up with the band doing new versions of songs and improvisation and debuting new songs all the time. Luke [Miller, Guitar / Keyboards] and I mix these shows. So after we play we go through a multi track recording of the show in detail and say “this little thing can be changed and it can be better.” To be able to go under your own show with a microscope has it’s benefits. We learn to find what sounds better.

DE: That’s great for you guys because you get to see where you were genius and where you may have messed up. 

JM: At a show, it’s all about energy and that doesn’t always mean everything is perfect and correct. You can be missing notes but if the energy is there that’s what’s important. But still like we can go back and say “this sample needs to be readjusted” or “someone’s playing the wrong note here.” And we might not have heard it in practice but you can pick up on these things when you have it all tracked out. Those things are really helpful.

DE: You guys have been to Bear Creek before. As a performer, what sets this place apart from any other festival.

JM: I think it’s one of those locations where it just feels homey to people. It’s not just a field where people erected a festival stage. I think people come here multiple times and they know where they should camp and know where to get this and they have friends. The festivals with locations that have a lot more character are always the better festivals.

DE: Lotus is often times the one band thrown on an electronic music / DJ line-up. How do you feel playing that role?

JM: There’s two sides to it. I really appreciate that promoters want to bring us out to a festival that is dominated by DJs. Sometimes we definitely feel like the odd man out, but we’ve always had this electronic influence and years ago we thought would it be great if the jam festival scene and the electronic scene would come together. About five years ago they really started to come together. In some ways it’s a good thing, in other ways I’m wondering if it’s kind of cheapening what’s going on. I appreciate the rise of electronic music in the mainstream in the US over the last five years, but I also think that especially some young fans haven’t been exposed to the artistry of a live band. Sometimes we see these crowds and it feels like the fans want to hear a track that they’ve heard before. At a jam festival fans want to hear something new. Even if it’s a song they know they want to hear improvisation. There’s really a dichotomy there. We try to bridge it, we try to bring the energy of both and work with those, but when we’re playing one stage and Skrillex is playing another stage I’m wondering is there any musical relation? Frankly, I don’t think there is. But you know its music at the end of the day and I’m glad it’s all happening.

DE: What’s coming up next for Lotus? 

JM: We’ve been taking some time off the road this fall and doing a bunch of studio work. We actually have two albums completely finished ready to be released and we’re working on a bunch of material even beyond that. I think Monday we’re going to announce the first leg of our 2013 tour which is very extensive. And for Florida fans you’ll be excited to know that we’re doing a full week in Florida. Look forward to that.

DE: Do you have any last words, any shout outs, anything like that?

JM: Other than that, I’m looking forward to the set tonight. We have a bunch of new stuff coming out. I actually have a solo EP coming out on Monday that I’m excited about. Stuff I’ve been working on my downtime from Lotus. It’s called “beard o bees.”

DE: What kind of sound can we expect from that?

JM: It’s a pretty eclectic electronic sound. Stuff that I would say is based in weird house and UK 2-steppy things and some more hip hop tempos with a harder electronic edge. It’s its own thing. [soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/64890762″ iframe=”true” /] [soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/64890759″ iframe=”true” /]

BONUS: DubEra exclusive video; Lotus live edit from Freebird Live in Jacksonville FL.

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