Lotus, the notorious EDM act-turned-jamband played a solid sold-out show at The Westcott Theater on a Wednesday, January 30th, making quite the comeback with their tenth album, The Build. The band continues to enchant listeners as they genre-bend their way into an idiosyncratic combination of funk and EDM, proving to be more relevant now than ever.
Before the show, I got the chance to talk to Jesse Miller, the bassist and sampler for the band.
Gauraa Shekhar: Your new record The Build is recorded live to analog. How did that come along considering the wide range of instrumentation?
Jesse Miller: We have been following the process over the last few years. It is a classic 70s thing, you know—with basic tracks and everything.
GS: That’s really cool. In The Build the rich texture really comes through, especially in songs like “Middle Road”. How do you guys produce music within a budget without compromising the quality?
JM: Most of it was done by myself and Luke. We rehearsed the process before we went into the studio and relied on a lot of software to help us. So we didn’t waste time and money on extra studio hours.
GS: That’s very practical. What kind of a demographic are you catering to with such genre-bending music? Is it easier to find the venue that matches your sound or do you have to pay special attention to it?
JM: I don’t think there is a specific demographic that we cater to but venues are definitely important. We aim for high-energy shows. Sometimes, we play for a younger crowd but there really is no specific age.
GS: Performing live is obviously a great aspect of your music. How do you mix it up on stage to keep the audience entranced . . . I mean, besides the lights of course.
JM: Improvisation, for sure. We try to mix it up by changing the instruments and arranging the songs a little differently.
GS: Since you guys incorporate a lot of computer generated digital sounds in your music, how do you put a different spin on it whilst performing live?
JM: There are certain things that are important to pull out of line…sometimes, we play around with the melody and sometimes we change up the instruments. We also trigger samples on stage.
GS: Oh, wow! Well, what is it like having a 47 days tour?
JM: 47 days in a tour can be hectic. But it allows us to develop a sound and a rapport.
GS: I’m sure. Bands have issues but you guys seem to stuck together as a band through all these years. What are some of the main things that glue you guys together?
JM: Well, it’s mostly the work ethic and the drive. We’ve been at this for such a long time and we’re really passionate about the music.
GS: As are we! Looking forward to seeing you in ’Cuse on the 30th, Jesse!
JM: Looking forward to the show!
As promised, Lotus gave those looking to get a high-energy head start to their weekend more than what they had bargained for. As I walked straight off the campus to their venue, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had walked straight into a Tim Burton set with all its entailing paraphernalia. I watched inebriated girls in princess costumes flail their way to the front row and men leaping out of crumbling bathroom doors with glowing light sabers. The night was fecund with possibilities as if anything could happen. Excited fans drove in all the way from Rochester and Watertown, yelling out to anybody willing to listen: “This is the fourth time I’m seeing them perform”, “I just watched their show in New York last week” and “They just keep getting better each time”. It was more than evident that Lotus’ electronica sound sustained their fan base over a span of fourteen years. And let me tell you, the infamous interplay of stage lights was only the beginning. Only a band like Lotus could turn a dance party into a religious experience. Lotus fueled the room with time-transcending energy and a motley crowd checked their baggage at the door, walked in, simply wrapped their heads around the music— and let their hair down.