Elite Gymnastics: An Introductory Interview
Elite Gymnastics have been cartwheeling across the blogosphere for the past few weeks. The duo (James and Josh) hail from Minneapolis, producing their music, art and website out of Josh’s apartment in true DIY style. Already labels and comparisons are being thrown around as per usual when new kids show up on the block. They’ve received the official head nod from Pitchfork and the boys from Big Stereo and Disco Dust are giving them a much-deserved boost. Cut through the hype and you’ll recognize that the Elite Gymnastics debut is as solid as they come. With the right dose of styling diversity among their tracks and a new spin on contemporary sounds, we can expect nothing but good things from these guys.
Nightdrive was lucky enough to land a brief interview with James. He tells us a bit more about Elite Gymnastics:
NIGHTDRIVE: Tell us a little about where you’re from and how Elite Gymnastics came about.
James: I’m from Vancouver, originally, but I live in Minneapolis now. Elite Gymnastics has kind of been going on for awhile in the background but we just decided to get serious about it and start recording some stuff like a month ago. We met at one of our good friend, Peter Lansky’s DJ nights at First Ave in Minneapolis. Josh approached me and asked if I was from D-C (Dassel-Cokato). We had gone to high school there together and were even in some classes with each other but were never friends. It wasn’t until years later when we met at First Avenue that we’d become good friends. I was wearing a t-shirt that I sharpied and on it said, “Ask-ask Paul McCartney.” Josh was one of the only ones that knew it was a UGK reference and yeah, we’ve been bros since.
ND: You’re getting a whole lot of love from some popular blogs in the past couple weeks. What has your reaction been to all the attention?
James: Honestly I am pretty shocked. I guess we always sort of thought that people from other places would like what we were doing more than people in Minneapolis but we didn’t expect to get so much positive attention so quickly. We’re psyched, it’s really cool.
ND: Travis from Big Stereo went as far as to say that your track “We Fly High” could be the next “Losing My Edge,” setting the tone for the next decade. Even he admits its a tall claim, but it’s an amazing track with an underlying emotion that people are latching on to. What were you trying to get across with the song and how do you explain the appeal?
James: I was just kind of trying to write something honest. I remember reading a story once about Slick Rick having to rent gold chains to wear in his videos because he didn’t actually own any. To me I guess that’s kind of what “we fly high” is – instead of rapping about all of my gold and jewels, I’m telling you mundane details about going to rent gold and jewels to convince other people that my life is glamorous and exciting.
I am definitely an LCD Soundsystem fan, and they are an inspiration to me for sure, but “we fly high” was also inspired by the ’00s-era output of British noise group whitehouse, who we sampled on “if u love me”, and who were the inspiration for the name Elite Gymnastics.
ND: One thing that stands out when I listen to your body of work so far is the diversity and variety of influences. I hear everything from Tanlines to Jakwob to Pictureplane to Neon Indian. There’s a continuity throughout that ties it all together though. Can you talk a bit about your influences and where you see yourself fitting into current music trends?
James: I guess Nine Inch Nails is sort of where everything starts for me. Recording stuff by yourself with a computer instead of with a band in a studio, putting all kinds of weird noisy stuff in a pop song, I mean even giving stuff away for free on the internet. I kind of learned everything from Trent Reznor. We’re both really big fans of new music though, like we LOVE Pictureplane. I saw him and Washed Out at Rhinoceropolis in Denver and I was just totally psyched to be in that space and experience that scene down there.
ND: The specter of the “chillwave” brand looms near. It’s already been thrown around in reference to your music. It’s a phenomenon that still puzzles me. It seems bands are both embracing it but also keeping it at arm’s length? What do you make of chillwave and where do you see it going?
James: I think we just like the word chillwave because we’re really big Hipster Runoff fans. I love the writing, I think it’s funny and smart and occasionally genuinely touching. I love Washed Out, I evangelize about Washed Out to like everyone I know. He seems like a really genuine and talented guy and I really like everything he’s released. Beyond that though it seems like most people just like to argue over what is and isn’t chillwave, so it’s hard to say what it’s future might be because no one can agree on what it actually is.
ND: What’s in the near future for Elite Gymnastics?
James: We’re working on a new EP that we are going to release for free next month called “neu! ’92”, but beyond that we don’t really know. A few weeks ago we had no idea that anyone would be interested in our music so we’re still kinda just trying to figure out what our next move is.
ND: When are you coming to Miami?
James: The winters in Minneapolis totally suck, so I’m pretty sure we’d jump at the chance to escape down to sunny Florida later this year if it came along.
Check out www.psychedelicsurfclub.com for more free music and their EP coming June 21st!