Photo by Jen Maler
There was a post-Millennial moment, let’s say roughly 2000 – 2005, where you could barely settle in to a fashionable nightspot without expecting Thievery Corporation to at least be soundtracking some portion of your evening. To be sure, the D.C. duo – Rob Garza and Eric Hilton – had decisively captured the spirit of the new cultural zeitgeist, making music that was ridiculously cool but also challenging, optimistic and yet with a moody, almost shadowy streak
When the Saarienen chairs and Ingo Maurer lighting gave way to stags heads and Edison bulbs, though, Thievery went slightly underground – yet continued doing just what they do (2011’s Culture of Fear was a particularly affecting album). And in fact, with 2017 wreaking environmental havoc and threatening war, we need the solace of their soulful sounds more than ever.
And indeed, their first album in three years, the hauntingly titled The Temple of I & I, was released earlier this year. Better still they are returning to the stage (their live performances are an illustrious spectacle), undertaking a sixteen-date North American tour which find them at the House of Blues in Boston tonight. But we’re most excited for their show at Coney Island’s Ford Amphitheater this Saturday, the 30th, as well as shows at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on the 6th, and the Hollywood Palladium on the 27th.
Leading up to it, we grabbed Garza for a chat.
Thievery Corporation seemed to perfectly capture the post-Millennial zeitgeist. How do you feel you fit within the current musical climate? If at all?
The world has become more connected globally, and I’d like to think that our music reflects that, in terms of working with artists from different parts of the world and using music as a message to transcend our own culture.
The new album seems to have leaned a little more on your reggae influences. Was that due to recording in Jamaica?
Yes, we recorded this album in Port Antonia Jamaica at Gee Jam Studio. Jamaican music has always been one of the foundations of our sound, so it was great to go to the source. We were inspired by the country, the people, and the culture. It definitely was the main theme behind this record.
What does the name, The Temple of I & I, actually refer to?
I & I is a Jamaican Rastafarian term for us, and so we consider this a temple where all of us come together musically.
What can we expect from the live shows that will be new or notable?
We have a bunch of new songs from the Temple of I & I and we are also featuring a singer, Racquel Jones, from Jamaica. It definitely adds a new energy to the live performance.
Will there be other collaborators joining you on stage?
Always. One of the main features of a Thievery performance is that we collaborate with singers from Argentina, Jamaica, St Thomas, Iran…so there is definitely going to be a collaborative vibe on stage.
You have always been political – and are from D.C. How do you feel about the current American political climate?
Well, it is definitely a surprise to each day to read the news. As crazy as you think things are, it continues to get crazier every day. It is unimaginable that we are taking steps backwards after we have made such step forward socially. It seems like we have taken a sudden exit off the highway of reality.
You’re actually auctioning an autographed bass, with all proceeds going to hurricane relief. Can you tell us more about that?
The Caribbean has been a source of inspiration for our music, and it’s a tragedy to see what happened with the last two hurricanes. It’s a shame that more attention isn’t being given to places like Puerto Rico and St. Martin. There is too much focus on silly political issues here in the States. so we are helping out in any way we can.