Since being founded in September of 2012, Philadelphia’s own Glitch Squad has been building its roster and giving off strange tunes. The collective’s sound seems to be limitless, exploring an array of electronic production styles that cover familiar and newly explored territory. Electro-acoustic, glitch, future bass, downtempo, hip-hop, breakbeat and minimal are just a few of the genres releases from Glitch Squad have covered.
Founded by Jack Deezl, alongside Architekt, the collective has quickly gained traction and given off a plethora of releases since its inception. This is not typical dance music though, and in a lot of cases, it’s not dance music at all. I was lucky enough to catch up with the collective’s founders, as well as one its frequent flyers, JXLbeats, to talk about Glitch Squad.
We talked about the collective’s founding, its growth and development, as well as inspirations, and what the future holds for Glitch Squad. Check out the full interview below to see all of what these three incredible producers had to say.
In addition, JXLbeats has been gracious enough to provide us with yet another exclusive track, “Off Blue”. The track bolsters a hip-hop rhythm, something we’re surely familiar with from JXL by now; but the track has an overwhelming soulful tone to it, lacking the trappy 808 snares we hear in some of his production. Instead he offers a pulsating offbeat drum kit, accompanied by gorgeous brass samples among other melodic elements. There’s even a delightful selection of guitar sampling.
JXLbeats – “Off Blue ” — FREE Download!!
F: How did you guys all get to know each other and come together on formulating the idea for Glitch Squad?
JD: Well Mike was DJing before I was, and we were kind of just both coming up in the Philly warehouses and house parties, trying to make a name for ourselves. It was in May of 2011 at a gig that I met Mike. But we were both mutual friends with Aaron Kessler from The New Philadelphia. He was helping me design the pads that I used for “Coast”, from my first record, and then he was like, ‘check out this stuff that dude Architekt sent me’.
A: That was when I had no idea what a mix down was or how to do it. I just would make things as loud as possible. But Drew and Aaron were both audio students, and I was just the kid that was a drummer and was tired of just being a drummer in a band; I wanted to make music. I wanted to make club music, but I didn’t know how to get my stuff to hit really hard, and so I was reaching out to people who I thought seemed they knew what they were doing. Aaron was pretty crucial to that move. It essentially came down to this moment where it was me, Aaron and Drew, sitting around this table talking about where we were all trying to go.
JD: Yeah that was when we all sort of became friends. Both just working at Kessler’s house and being like, ‘this is cool, we should do stuff together’. There was this talk we were having about what was going on in Philly and how we could make it better. Then Aaron went and moved out to L.A.
So we just started hanging out more, talking online and playing gigs together. By Summer of 2012 we had all started coming into our own. I introduced Mike to Aaron Ruxbin over at Actual Records. Then I came up with this idea to do Glitch Squad because Actual Records was still completely physical at the time; there was no room for digital releases. So I wanted to be a part of Actual Records, but also have my own imprint label where I could release stuff for free on BandCamp. I had all this other music, and a bunch of music from friends I wanted to release that wouldn’t necessarily work on Actual. We spent a lot of time talking about other producers, who weren’t club music that we thought were really interesting. People like Flying Lotus or Baths that are electronic but it’s not for the same purpose. Essentially Glitch Squad became the vehicle to express ourselves musically in any genre, any fashion, and totally get away with it. It’s just interesting compositions. Then one day I just finally hit up Mike and said, ‘I want to start a label. I know you’re a killer graphic designer and can find more artists too. Do you want to start something up together?’ We ended up doing a party at Medusa Lounge, which ended up being Glitch Squid, to help promote it.
Then we met James [JXLBeats] through XNDR, who’s another Glitch Squad artist, really early on while we throwing those shows. Later I moved to South Philly and we all lived real close to one another.
Jack Deezl – “In Solitude”
F: What was the original intention of Glitch Squad? Do you feel you’ve stuck with that intention, or the function of it has grown toward other things?
A: We’ve just been taking this tight circle, which is Drew [Jack Deezl], James, Xander [XNDR] and I, and getting all the people we know involved. Everybody can contribute whatever they want to it, whenever they want, as long as what they’re contributing is quality.
JD: We call ourselves a record label. For all intents and purposes we are a record label. But as the guy running the record label, I have to say I feel like the entire model of a record label is kind of dumb. If you want to call it a record label, you can call it that, or you can call it a collective. It’s just a community of people. We’re always passing around tracks, constantly hanging out. We have this BandCamp and we have it setup with a distributor now so you can get it on iTunes and Spotify too. It started with a foundation, but it’s all started to really grow out. We’ve got radioaddict building an official website for us, and a lot of other guys that have become key players: Tilsonic, Speaker for the Dead, Jay Danko, Fried Monk.
A: We also really realized we had all these individual tracks from guys that we liked, that weren’t necessarily enough for a full release, but fit well together with stuff we had from other producers. So we started putting out compilations of all this stuff as well.
F: How would you say the creation of Glitch Squad has affected each of your own production?
JD: I probably would have quit making music by now if it wasn’t for Glitch Squad, or I would have just got bored. I already almost quit. I wasn’t going to quit completely, but I was going to make a different alias.
JXL: Having all the producers around you and getting all the tracks you’re getting from them, obviously you get more ideas for your own stuff. I feel like my music is still very organic, but I’ve begun to add more EDM elements to it, subtlety. I have so many people around me, who do that, who inspire me to step my synth-game up or something.
JD: Mike is by far the best synth designer on the entire label, and the stuff he comes up with is constantly challenging everybody. I feel like James is the same way on a sampling level. Everyone has their own thing. It’s a lot of friendly competition.
A: I’ll hear something, like a Fried Monk tune, that’s just so far left field; there’s nothing conventional about it. I make such structured, predictable dance music, because when you start throwing a club curveballs, they’re not about it. There’s a reason dance music is loop-based and repetitive. You can get lost in that world very easily, and sort of lose the joy of making music that sounds good, just because it sounds good, as opposed to holding it to a standard. I’ll hear an amazing Motown sampled pitch in a crazy JXL beat and I’ll be like, ‘woah, I need to go open some breaks and make a 90 BPM thing’. Or, Drew will make this crazy synth-layered harmony that will make me want to spend more time on making my synth patches brighter and have more life to them. Like Drew said, it’s a great revolving door of friendly competition.
JD: It opens a lot of doors for collaboration too. Mike was just asking me today if I could do some guitar on a track for him. A lot of times, we’ll do remixes, and it’ll become a Jack Deezl and Architekt remix, because I’ll have it half done and I’ll hit up Mike saying, ‘I think you could really finish this up better than I could’. There are a lot of unreleased collaborations we’re all still throwing around. A lot happened just because we’ve really built and developed this network.
Architekt – “Ghost Ride the Hearse (Architekt’s Zombie Teeth VIP)” — FREE Download!!
F: With electronic music evolving at the pace that it is, what direction to see your own sounds and the sounds of the label going?
A: I think there’s going to be a million different trends always. There’s always going to be the cool new thing to do. What’s great about what we do is we can draw from something like Disclosure or Flume that’s pushing boundaries, and then we can find our own weird, subtle ways of finding inspiration in that music. We’re taking these things and making our own interpretation of them. I like to believe Glitch Squad is a part of furthering musical ideas, because we’re constantly pushing boundaries. We’re taking things, like trap, and doing something really, really odd with it.
JD: We’re taking inspiration from all these different places. As DJs, when we play around the city we’re playing more club events. I’ve made a lot of different music, but what I play out live now more days is house and clubby dubstep, a little bit of trap. All the stuff that’s positive, but then we come home at the end of the night and listen to Baths and Flying Lotus. I dream of a day when there’s an East Coast thing like they have with Low End Theory out in L.A., with Brainfeeder and all them. If there’s someone I would say I think we’re all drawing influence from, more so than anything else, it’s definitely that West Coast beat collective thing. Brainfeeder would be the go to label for me. But we really do have all these other influences too.
A: Here’s a great way to break it down. Glitch Squad is that 2:30 AM feeling, when you’re like, ‘I need some Caribou, or something weird that I can put on at half volume and just relax and let my brain calm down’.
F: Do you want to keep Glitch Squad primarily local-based?
JD: It’s not necessarily that we want to keep it local-based. There are a few people we have that aren’t local. It’s not necessarily a Philly thing in terms of who contributes, but the scene itself is definitely in Philly; the heart of it is in Philly. It’s good to nurture the scene. It all grew out of the Philadelphia culture and attitude.
JXL: I think we’ll always be Philly based, but like Drew said, we’ve got a few guys outside the city. We got a guy down in North Carolina right now, a guy that goes by James Blow. I’m going to be starting a project up with him called Bulletproof Mink that will have some new stuff on Glitch Squad for 2014.
A: I don’t foresee us Mad Decent-ing the city.
F: Is there anything you’re specifically looking for when putting together releases for Glitch Squad, or do you try to let artists have complete freedom in their releases?
JD: Well for something like the hip-hop compilation, we’re obviously looking for something specific. But, for the most part, if we’re looking to do an original EP from an artist, I don’t look for anything too particular. There’s certain things I don’t want to hear, like more mainstream type of EDM sounds. It’s not that we think there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not the type of style we’re going for. Really we’re just looking for people who are authentic and original, not just trying to be somebody. People making music for the sake of making music.
F: If you could pick one or two smaller artists off the collective that you would tell people to keep an eye out for, who would you go with?
JD: Fried Monk’s doing a lot of awesome stuff right now; radioaddict has a bunch of new stuff on the way; and Parallel Ghost has some really cool stuff on the way as well. Speaker for the Dead has a new EP on the way, and Tilsonic’s also got a lot of great stuff in the works. Honestly, I can’t think of anybody that isn’t working on something really incredible right now.
JXL: Also look out for FedRox. He’s been my right hand man.
Speaker for the Dead – “Jupiter” — FREE Download!!
radioaddict – “Flow” — FREE Download!!
Tilsonic – “Crunch & Swagger” — FREE Download!!
Architekt – “Pleasure Seekers (Fried Monk Remix)”
F: Other than the things you just mentioned, what are some other releases we can expect from Glitch Squad in the foreseeable future?
JD: Definitely within the first few months of 2014 you’re going to see new stuff from Architekt, JXLBeats, Speaker for the Dead, Fried Monk, radioaddict, Tilsonic and more. Over the course of the year, you’ll see big stuff from every single person that’s related to Glitch Squad.
JXL: I’ll have my third EP, which is called This, That & The Third.
JD: We also have some really cool collaborative projects we’re all working on too but I don’t wanna give away too much. Just know, more compilations are coming, as well as some other dope projects that I want to keep a lid on for now.
F: Anything else you want to say?