The members of Autograf are known for putting on a notably unique live show. Armed with marimbas and charisma, this group perfectly echoed the feel-good beach vibes at Mamby on the Beach this past weekend. Although their set was early on in the day, a steady stream of people flooded onto the beach to see Autograf, barefoot and optimistic despite the stormy weather. Sound issues temporarily marred their otherwise polished performance, but as the drunk girl next to me slurred: “That’s the beauty of a live show!”
Let’s start by having each of you tell me a little about your background.
Jake: I did piano lessons when I was real little, and then drum lessons. Then I did percussion in middle school, trombone in middle school, and I did piano lessons for like 10 years, drum lesson for like 5 years, and then marching band for…three years.
And what is it that you do that brings individuality to the group?
Jake: Music. *laughs
Well what is it about your background that makes your skill set crucial to the group?
Jake: Uh…rhythm. No wait. Something more specific. Let’s be unique here.
*Mumbling in the background
Jake: Yep, you know what? Hold on here one second.
Daniel Brunelle: I’m a big fan of Autograf (laughs). But with only two voices, using the marimba…Autograf can really say a lot melodically and harmonically with only the most limited beats.”
Louis: Uhh…just so you know that was Gemini Club. They are now our spokesperson. Thank you – because they know us better than we do.
Okay, tell me a little about your background.
Louis: Ah…lets see…like any good asian boy I did violin, yes, you already guessed. And then in high school I wanted to be cool, because violin was not cool, and then I picked up guitar.
So how does your background translate into the music that you play today, and what do you bring to the group?
Louis: I don’t know…I think as you go along in life you just always want to do something different – what you weren’t doing before – so I think that’s why I wanted to take a more electronic role. You know, playing with a bunch of unnecessary buttons which could be done with more traditional instruments, but, you know…it’s all about just entertaining yourself a lot of times. That’s kind of what I do right now. I’m not saying what we do is the best way to do things, it’s just what entertains us at the time.
Mikul: So, in high school I played in a rockin’ metal band, and stuff like that. Then really throughout the beginning of college and up until pretty recently I was doing more art-based stuff. I owned a gallery and we started this group and wanted to do this big art-party thing, so we built a bunch of crazy sculptures. Now we want to keep bringing in all those art influences, so I’ve definitely been working on that. When I had my gallery I used to throw these crazy parties in the basement of it, so that’s really when I learned to DJ.
Tell me more about your individual style.
Mikul: My individual style? That’s a tough question. I think I have a pretty eclectic taste in music and I try to bring those things to the group.
Awesome. What’s your biggest focus as a group right now?
Mikul: Right now we are really focused on finishing up our album. We’ve put out one original song so far and there’s a lot more in the pipeline, so that’s going to be the big thing for the rest of the year. We also want to continually improve our live show and build some crazy art instruments and things like that.
What do you all hope to achieve with your live performances in the future? I know you have been growing, changing and evolving, so what are we to expect in the next year?
Jake: Well, we’ve been developing an interactive light show. Let’s say, for example, on a drum…you hit it, and it lights up immediately. And, depending how hard you hit it, it changes the color. How hard you hit it also changes how bright it is, so we’re adapting that for all of our hand percussion, stick percussion, and the marimba as well. So we’re hoping to have a more interactive light show in that it isn’t something that is pre-programmed; it’s something that happens based on what we’re playing.
Mikul: Too often when people have crazy visual shows, everything has to be timed out exactly, so we’re developing it where we can deviate and play whatever we want but it will still all be in sync. It’s a really cool way to do it.
How do audiences react differently to your live performance versus other performers?
Jake: It’s definitely different. For example, I get the general impression that guys have a larger appreciation for DJs and girls have a larger appreciation for a “live” act. So if you’re just a dude up there with headphones doing a bunch of fist pumping, guarantee you the first three rows are going to be a whole bunch of dudes. Unless for some reason you’re a model. And if it’s a band, generally speaking, for a band, the first three rows is all girls.
So you’re planning for the future with your performance style?
Jake: No, I mean…it’s a big gender difference for a live show. It’s true though…isn’t it? You’ve gotta believe me.
Louis: I just don’t want to say it. You know…it kind of promotes a patriarchal society.
Jake: But that was definitely not our objective. Women, I mean. Our objective was to bring something new and fresh to the DJ scene. And we slowly just went from doing controllers to doing full blown instruments to just being a straight-up band.
That’s part of what I want to ask. In the last…say, year, because I don’t want to go too far back: what are the major changes that you have gone through as a group?
Mikul: Well, in terms of the live show we started out just DJing, then we added in the electric marimba and we were doing that in conjunction with two DJs, and now we incorporated all of the live Ableton push and we’ll continue to evolve with that by putting in more drums and percussion heads.
Anything you’d like to add?
Louis: I mean yeah, we did just start out wanting to do the art-based dance parties, but our goal was to do a boiler room type thing where we made the stage an art installation and the DJ booth would be moved onto the floor. So initially we were just wanting to be DJs, and then, well, you know I’ve known Jake for like 5 years and one day he just tells me that he plays the marimba, and I was just like, “Really? Fuck. We’re buying a marimba.” It’s just so weird and unique. I thought it was really rad. So we added that in, and had a bunch of fun, so that’s kind of where we really started to expand.
Is there anything that we should be keeping an eye out for?
Mikul: Or both!
Jake: Our first original song came out a month ago, called “Dream.” It’s done really, really well and we just released our official remix for Avicii.
Louis: On the completely other end of the spectrum we just finished up a remix for our homeboy GRiZ, which was actually probably inspired by our experience at Electric Forest – it definitely has the future funk in it, so it should sound a lot more different that most of the tunes we’ve put out already. And beyond that we have a ton of originals coming out in the fall. People should really come check us out live because we’re just really excited about building and expanding!