Eric Hilton discusses his cult band's longevity, cultural diversity, and the message of unity at its core.
Thievery Corporation has been captivating larger and larger audiences with their personal brand of electronica for over 20 years now, and, yet, they have are showing no signs of slowing down. On their newest album,Â The Temple Of I And I,Â the band set out to Jamaica to dig deeper into the landscape of a culture that has informed a variety of their sounds in the past. The result is a deeper look into their sonic roots, which has already managed to transcend age, community, and culture. It's remains no surprise that the Washington D.C.-based duo is so easily able to fly from style to style. ARTISTdirect's Christopher Friedmann caught up with Eric Hilton, one half of the famous duo, to discuss the recording of the new album, how Thievery has been able to exist without ties to any major label, and just what has surprised them most over the years. Christopher Friedmann: So, we're speaking today because you have a new album coming out. It's been about 3 years since, 'Saudadeâ€� - how is the mood in the camp? Eric Hilton: The mood is very good! [Laughs] the last record we did was very successful, surprisingly so because it was a very unusual record. This is quite a departure from the previous record, stylistically, and that can always feel a little odd to a fan but I think that fans of Thievery will really like this record as well. I think we're blessed to be able to do a lot of different styles of music and we get away with a lot of direction changes throughout our career, which is a nice thing. CF: The Temple Of I And I was recorded in Jamaica - the music of the country has long-favored your sound - but can you speak a little on how you came to chose that location and how your time their affected the tone of the album? EH: I happened to go to a very remote corner of Jamaica for a winter break, and I ended up in Port Antonio, and I fell in love with it. I feel in love with the place I stayed and then lo and behold - the place where I stayed had a recording studio! So I hung about there for a couple of nights and met the engineer, and met a few people recording there and found out Cee Lo Green and Amy Winehouse, and Gwen Stefani, a whole bunch of people had been there throughout the past, recording there. I realized that it was a pretty legit studio right away so I called Rob and said, 'Hey, I think it being winter, this would be a great place to start working on the next record.â€� And within ten days he was down there and Hashish, our bass player, and Robbie Myers, our guitar player, Jeff Franca, our drummer, came down - and Puma, one of live vocalists, came down and we just jammed for ten days and had the best time. CF: I feel like working in an environment like that you're blessed if you can get on track that quickly. Can you speak of one tune from the album that acted as a point of reference during the recording process - a moment when you knew that you were on the right track? EH: No actually! [Laughs] we were on track from the first hour that we started recording. It was amazing how we recorded for ten days. I think because we had nothing else to do, we were on a destination recording - so we were there to record' so we all wanted to, and when you get into a groove of ten hours straight of recording, it just starts to flow. I feel like we recorded probably 12 hours a day every day, so we made something like 30 rhythms, which is a lot of basic music tracks - and that's just what we did. CF: Despite being such a well-known band, you are not known for a particular single or album, how have you managed to stay in everyone's minds while avoiding