The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter played host for GRAMMYs On The Road at Lollapalooza on Aug. 3–5 in Grant Park in Chicago. The Chapter conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including Chicago-based DJ Zebo and indie band Neon Indian.
DJ Zebo discussed his local DJ career in Chicago, the history of the '90s rave scene and teaching his craft as a professor at Columbia College Chicago.
"It's amazing, I'm a Columbia graduate myself," he said. "It's really cool [and] really rewarding to teach these kids the knowledge and skills that I've learned over the years, but also to act as a foot in the door for them. I get a lot of kids opening up for me at clubs, or I have students [who] have done releases on my record label."
Voted by readers of The Chicago Reader as the best local DJ for three consecutive years, Johnathon Zebo Gust aka DJ Zebo mixes an array of styles, from hip-hop and disco to techno and freestyle. In addition to holding a residency at the MID and Primary nightclubs and running his own record label, Hot Dog Records, DJ Zebo is an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Columbia College.
Neon Indian frontman Alan Palomo discussed his family's musical roots, the Internet's influence on music, the future of electronic music, and his evolution as an artist.
"A project like Neon Indian, before the Internet, would probably have a hard time finding an audience, to be very honest," said Palomo. "There is a lot more music now than there has ever been, it's almost too much. For that reason you tend to cycle through albums a lot quicker because there's more options. …"
Neon Indian is the electronic pop project founded by Mexico native Palomo with longtime friend, video artist Alicia Scardetta. With its blend of pop and modern flourishes, Neon Indian's debut album, 2009's Psychic Chasms, garnered acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone, Spin and Pitchfork. The album reached No. 11 on the Billboard's Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Released in 2011, Neon Indian's sophomore album, Era Extraña, charted at No. 74 on the Billboard 200. Palomo has collaborated with Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, in addition to designing his own custom analog synthesizer.
(GRAMMYs On The Road at Lollapalooza: Interviews and news contributions by Ramon Alvarez-Smikle, Christina Castillo, Max O'Kane, and Emily Ornberg.)
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