There are rockers. There are dancers. Conspirator is here to rock the electronic dance music scene.
The four-piece, created by members of electronic jam band Disco Biscuits, is trying to shake the label of “side project” and embrace its undefined sound and growing independent fan base. Conspirator’s latest album, Unlocked: Live from the Georgia Theater, bridges the gap between the sound of the band’s studio recordings and its live performances.
Chris Michetti, guitarist, says the band plays and improvises over studio recordings in concert. The live album, released April 10, finally gives listeners a true sense of the band’s onstage sound.
The band is now on the second half of its spring tour. It was formed by bassist Marc Brownstein and keyboardist Aron Magner, originally from the Disco Biscuits. The two musicians created the group in 2004 with DJ Omen. Conspirator’s remixes of Avicii’s Seek Bromance and Porter Robinson’s Say My Name garnered much attention online. The remixes played 85,000 times combined on SoundCloud, and the Say My Name remix played 33,000 times in two weeks.
Last year, the band played the Ultra, Nocturnal, Electric Forest and the Biscuits-founded Camp Bisco music festivals. Michetti says the second tour leg has been more strenuous than the first, though his bandmates have made the constant traveling fun.
Michetti brings the rock sensibility to the house music band. The guitarist previously played in the jam band RAQ before getting into the electronic dance music, or EDM, scene. For his personal tastes, Michetti says Dylan Francis is the best in the scene. He regards Skrillex as one of the masters of dubstep, a newly popular, aggressive sect of electronic which he calls the metal of EDM.
To Michetti, one of the best parts of EDM is the speed of productivity. While a rock band will take years to put out an album, let alone a single, an EDM act can churn out a song in no time. Plus, the music is entirely in the artist’s hands. Michetti says he’s always held interest in production, and EDM DJs don’t worry about others tampering with their final product.
“It’s really cool and really liberating to be in a genre of music where you can make something viable on your laptop by yourself,” he says.
Conspirator, like a jam band, crosses the spectrum of their music scene. House, drum and bass, dubstep — all electronica subgenres are represented at shows.
“That’s the joy of Conspirator,” Michetti says. “It can go in different directions.”
The studio recordings enjoyed by fans are merely guides for the Conspirator live band’s freeform onstage performances. Michetti says even diehard guitarist friends appreciate how the shredding on a Conspirator track doesn’t downplay the instrumentation. The band accomplishes the seemingly unholy union of the DJ and the rock band.
“It’s tough to do something original today,” he says. “Conspirator brings the live band element into the future.”
Michetti finds his transition from jam to EDM natural. He says most jam bands today incorporate electronica — the keyboard is a staple of both genres. He compared the backlash against the long-haired Skrillex to backlash against progressive rock gods Pink Floyd.
He says the best part of this tour is getting away from the Disco Biscuits fans. He’s proud to see Conspirator garnering its own fan base. He found Biscuits fans too intense. He says they’re too competitive, one-upping each other over who saw a song played live earliest, and too possessive, jamming as many pins as possible into their hats to prove supreme loyalty.
As Conspirator develops, Michetti says the group will continue defying music conventions and labels.
“Sometimes we’re a rock band, sometimes we’re a DJ,” he says. “All the time, we are good looking men.”