Robert DeLong: Deep Thoughts on the Dance Floor
It's easy to imagine Robert DeLong working furiously into the night at the cramped production space inside the garage attached to his house in Mt. Washington. He's got a savant quality to him, and talks quickly and decisively with the matter of fact authority of someone who just always knew they were going to be successful making music.
Today at this coffee shop in Culver City, DeLong is deep into the roll out surrounding the release of debut album Just Movement. The hype machine has been busy creating a full on artist-we-believe-in media onslaught for the LP, which is out today via renowned indie label Glassnote. (The label's current roster includes Phoenix, Mumford and Sons, Childish Gambino and The Temper Trap). DeLong has been given the MTV Artist to Watch label and snagged a slot on this year's Coachella lineup. The buzz-ey anticipation surrounding DeLong is culled from both savvy management and the quality of the album itself. There is the sense that he might really be an artist who matters.
The 26-year-old Seattle native moved to L.A. when he was 18, studying drums at Azusa Pacific University and playing in various groups around town after that while also working on his own material. DeLong didn't anticipate becoming a solo artist, but says it was logistically easier to not have to coordinate schedules or interface with bandmates. And this way, he could work as late as he wanted to.
A musician since childhood, DeLong started on percussion via his drummer father and taught himself how to play piano and guitar along the way. He's always been a singer. In high school, DeLong played in pop punk bands, ("we weren't any good"), and after college he taught drum lessons while gaining inspiration via the underground electronic scene he found at parties by Incognito and local techno label Droid Behavior.
"I had always been into more atmospheric and glitch electronic music like Boards of Canada," he says, "but when I started going to electronic festivals everything kind of came together. I'm a product of the times as much as anybody."
DeLong subsequently gave much of his old material an electronic treatment while continuing to write new music. "I was already kind of a computer nerd and into electronics and gadgets and stuff," he says, "and it became what it is." Dozens of songs were narrowed down to the twelve on the album. A 2012 residency at Los Globos caught the attention of Glassnote label founder Daniel Glass. After that, DeLong says with a laugh, it was all "just lawyers."