Eliot Lipp: A man of many sounds

Amidst the somewhat-unpopular lineup of this weekend’s Chamberlin Rail Jam in Big Sky, one veteran producer shines in the shadows.

Headlining the afterparty at Whiskey Jack’s on Saturday, Eliot Lipp will deliver genre-defying sounds sure to please your ears and keep you on your toes.

When Lipp describes his music to people who have never heard it, “I usually just say it’s dance music or it’s electronic,” he said. “I try to keep it pretty vague, because it does cover so many different styles.”

Lipp performs live with an analog synthesizer alongside standard digital DJ equipment. “I like having it because it’s from like ’79, and it’s got this old sound to it that’s fun to mix with new digital shit,” Lipp said.

After growing up in Brooklyn and spending almost 10 years in the electronic music scene, Lipp retains an easy-going demeanor. He’s released seven studio albums, the latest being “Shark Wolf Rabbit Snake” on the Pretty Lights Music label.

Although he’s been to Montana before, he’s usually just passing through. Last December, he played his first Bozeman show at the Zebra on the Tuesday of Dead Week at MSU. Attendance was low, but the dance floor filled quickly when he took the stage. It almost felt like a private show — people were stoked and Lipp mingled with the crowd afterward, dressed in his signature plaid shirt with a Western hat for some Montana flavor.

Regardless of how many people come to shows, “I’m just trying to promote the music that I make, so getting out into every part of the country is kind of important to me,” Lipp said. This is evidenced by the fact that Lipp is traveling from Texas to Big Sky to play back-to-back shows this weekend.

When we talked on the phone last week, Lipp’s phone died mid-conversation — but he called me back five minutes later and was more than happy to answer more questions. He might not headline sold-out shows on the regular, but Eliot Lipp is the real deal: He loves music and will not compromise his creativity to pursue greater fame.

For the interested, the full transcript is below.

Karen: What’s new?

Eliot Lipp: I’m working on a new album and I just got a bunch of remixes back from some friends of mine, so I’m going to be putting out a version of Shark Wolf Rabbit Snake that’s all remixes. I can’t wait to put that out, that’s going to be in a few weeks. It’s like Two Fresh, Mind Elixir, Knight Riderz, Stratus — a bunch of different EDM [Electronic Dance Music] artists from around the country.

You’ve been releasing a lot of stuff on SoundCloud lately. What’s up with that?

I’ve been giving away all of my new music for free, and I realized that a lot of that other stuff was just not available — some of it just came out on vinyl, and like there was one track that was only on the Japanese version of a CD, and I was going back and thinking that I should start making sure all of my music is available to people that are into it, you know? And it’s gotten a pretty good response. Some of those songs are getting a lot more plays and downloads than I expected, so it’s pretty cool.

Your music sort of spans all genres of electronic, would you say?

I guess — I don’t really try, but that’s how it turns out, because I like so many different styles of music.

How did you start playing music?

My older brother had a band, and so he had a drum set, and he would leave all the instruments at the house, and so a lot of the time after they had band practice my friends and I would go up there and just kind of jam on the equipment. And we eventually started our own band, and I started making beats, and it was just kind of a gradual progression.

So you started with the real instruments.

Well, also I was really into the recording end of it, too. I bought a 4-track and stuff when I was a kid. So yeah, it started off all about live instruments and I slowly, gradually got more and more into electronic stuff.

What do you use now when you play?

Mostly I produce everything in Ableton, and I do use a lot of samplers and synthesizers and drum machines and stuff, but I record everything into my computer and then the finishing touches always happen in my laptop with Ableton and Logic and various software.

So I saw you in Bozeman not too long ago, last December. Do you remember that show?


I remember you had — not a normal piece of DJ equipment, but something you used your hands to work with. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Yeah, it’s the old Korg. It’s the Korg MS10. It’s an old analog synthesizer. I’ve been touring with that lately, just bringing it with me everywhere. I play a lot of bass lines and a lot of synthesizer stuff on there when I play live, and it’s just fun. I like having it because it’s from like ’79, and it’s just got this old sound to it that’s fun to mix with new digital shit, you know?

What did you think about Bozeman?

Well, it was my first time in Bozeman. I thought it was pretty fun, I mean, like you said there weren’t that many people there, but there was still good energy, and the other DJs [Enzymes and Ampathy] were playing cool stuff. I thought it was pretty cool.

I always get bummed when I’m in Montana because I don’t have enough time to go explore. It seems like there’s so much to do, there’s a lot of hiking and all that. I really like doing that around New York, but there’s so much more out there. So much more to see, you know?

But the show was fun, I thought it was cool. Whenever I go to cities I’ve never played before I don’t know what to expect. Sometimes I’m like shocked and sometimes it will be totally packed, and then other times it will be more mellow. But I’m just trying to promote the music that I make, so getting out into every part of the country is kind of important to me.

How do you explain your music to people who have never heard it before?

Well, I usually just say it’s dance music or it’s electronic. I try to keep it pretty vague, because it does cover so many different styles, you know?

When one of my friends heard you were coming to town, he was like “Oh yeah, Eliot Lipp, he plays trap music.” And I was like, “No he doesn’t, what are you talking about?” But that’s like the only thing he knew about you, so what do you think about that?

Well that’s just…that’s like the flavor of the month right now, you know? Trap. I feel like there’s always a style like that. Like people have called my music electro-clash or dubstep or house, people just use all kinds of ways to describe music to make it seem like it’s what’s hot, you know? But I’ve never actually played dubstep or made anything like dubstep. When dubstep was popular people would say it so loosely. I think that’s the thing with trap right now. I don’t know, I wouldn’t say trap music is the style of music that I play or anything.

But fun to experiment with, maybe?

Oh, definitely. I mean I’ve always been into Southern rap and those kinds of beats, I’ve always experimented with them.

What about future plans? Anything big happening?

Well, I did a few shows last summer with a live band, and I’m really looking forward to doing more stuff like that. It’s really fun to collaborate that way, and I’ve done so many shows as a DJ, as a solo performer, that I’m really excited about trying more stuff with a live band. I think that’s kind of what’s on the horizon right now.

What music have you been listening to lately?

There’s this kid named Ulrich Schnauss. I think he’s German. He’s got this new record called “A Long Way to Fall” and I can’t stop listening to it, it’s so good. I love it. And there’s this Australian band called Tame Impala, their new album’s pretty good.