Every Wednesday at The Airliner in Lincoln Heights, beatmakers of the experimental electronic and hip-hop scenes in Los Angeles gather together for Low End Theory, performing for loyal fans at the price of $10 per guest. The weekly club night has launched the careers of prominent electronic artists such as The Glitch Mob, Flying Lotus and The Gaslamp Killer.
At first glance, The Ten Thousand’s name on this week’s Low End Theory bill may seem slightly out of place. Alongside prominent producers such as Lapalux, D Tiberio and The Gaslamp Killer, those familiar with The Ten Thousand’s more traditional rock sound may believe the band is out of place in a group of electronic musicians.
The band, however, has been evolving. Lead singer and UCLA alumnus Kevin Daye, the band’s principal songwriter, used to write lyrics using his acoustic guitar. In a move toward a solo project, he abandoned this technique and instead turned to the music software Abelton, coming up with 10-12 new songs that were all produced electronically. The rest of the band was so captivated with the new sounds that they attempted to re-imagine the music so that it could be played by The Ten Thousand.
In taking Daye’s electronically written songs and envisioning them as music the group can play, The Ten Thousand has come up with a distinctive new sound – one that promises to be more in line with the music usually presented at Low End Theory.
Drawing inspiration from groups like Atoms For Peace, which performs its electronically produced sounds through a live band, lead guitarist and UCLA alumnus Dylan Robin said he believes that there is a tremendous reward in taking the time to recreate electronic sounds in a live setting.
“We’ve definitely taken inspiration from electronic artists, but will be taking risks in a different way,” Robin said. “We’ve been trying to take the sounds that are in our heads and recreate them in deliberate and colorful ways.”
Drummer and UCLA alumnus Garrett Harney said he agrees.
“My drumming is a lot more focused; it’s a lot less embellished,” Harney said. “My playing style will be more meticulous to make sure all of the tones to our sound are coming through.”
Being invited to play at The Airliner is a big step forward for the band. Low End Theory’s reputation speaks for itself: With its humble early beginnings at The Airliner, the popularity of the club’s Wednesday nights grew exponentially – its monthly podcast now has more than 3 million downloads – to become one of the most revered showcases of local talent. Its growing popularity led to appearances ranging from Erykah Badu to a secret Thom Yorke DJ set.
With that in mind, The Ten Thousand feels ready to rise to the occasion. About a year ago, it was asked to play at Low End Theory, but the plans fell through.
“A year ago, we weren’t prepared,” said UCLA alumnus and keyboardist Satoru Yamamoto. “But Garrett and Kevin got in touch with them again – Kevin lives off Low End (Theory). I’m very happy it all came together.”
Even with the band’s music venturing into electronic territory, the essence of The Ten Thousand will remain the same, Robin said.
Robin said earlier versions of the band spanned different genres over the space of a few songs – some songs would be punk-rock, and others more bluesy. Instead of changing up the instruments, the band will focus on playing the instruments they already have in new ways.
“This time around, we’re a lot more focused. We’re honing in on our sounds, and have an understood common goal,” Robin said. “We’ve really come into what sort of band we want to be.”