Already a known quantity in Chicago for their live shows and dance parties, Pixel Grip have now put out their first LP Heavy Handed. Energetic, dark synth-pop grooves with deep analog synth zones, in their words “menacing”. We had a quick chat with the trio to hear their thoughts on their hometown, moving away from the constraints of genre and the confidence of extended repetition.
Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about how Pixel Grip started?
R: Hi, thank you! The three of us went to the same high school and bonded over liking electronic music despite the uninspired atmosphere of our hometown. The three of us independently tried to pursue music with other bands and it took us a while to get in a room together, but now we’re inseparable.
You’re based in Chicago, unarguably the birthplace of house music – what’s the current scene like? Do you feel supported by other artists and the wider music community?
R: It’s true that Chicago is the birthplace of house and has a flourishing electronic music scene. I just still don’t know where we fit in. We kind of feel like outsiders here; we don’t really fit in with the dark wave or goth scene, we don’t fit in the club scene. We’ve just been playing our set on venue and festival stages and hoping people like it.
We are loving your track ‘Plastic Enemies’, which we’ve played on the radio show and love the video, can you tell us a bit more about the track?
R: ‘Plastic Enemies’ is a moody song with a powerful bass-line and heavenly chords. Me and Jon developed the structure of the song very quickly through improvisation, and Jon produced his heart out on the track. The lyrics are inspired by falling in love with a straight girl.
Your debut LP Heavy Handed feels like it draws from a number of musical genres – how would you describe the record?
R: I find myself less interested in the idea of “genre” more and more every day. Our goal in the creative process is to write a good song. A song with movement and power and expression. When we are working together we like to riff on energy that’s dark or funky – something that makes you bang your head or do stank face. There’s also songs on the album that pause from the dancing to reflect or emote.
What is your creative process like, do you work together or separately?
R: We do both. Jon works really well on his own when he produces the tracks. When we are songwriting we try everything: generally, we create concepts through improvising with each other, but a few tracks on the album were produced around a crude demo I made by myself.
You’re known for your live shows and dance parties in Chicago – can you describe them for us?
J: Something we love about playing live is our ability to transform recorded material into something new and unpredictable. We get to use new instruments, unique sounds, stunts, anything really. We used to DJ more often in Chicago, but lately it has been more exciting to apply those mixing skills into a full band set. I think the biggest takeaway is the confidence of extended repetition.
Plans to come to the UK anytime soon?
J: Yes! Want to help us get some UK shows…?!
What’s the rest of 2019 got in store for Pixel Grip?
J: Start writing the second album! Also, we hope to be on the road as much as possible, maybe even more than what’s possible.
Finally, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other new/upcoming bands or artists you’d suggest we check out?
J: Definitely check out Sports Boyfriend, Cameron Traxxx, and Ariel Zetina. Those are just a few of our favourite Chicago musicians.
Huge thanks to Pixel Grip for answering our questions! Heavy Handed, the debut LP from Pixel Grip, is out now.