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avatar for Robert DeLong

Robert DeLong

“For this next record I wanted to combine the variety of unique things I like to do sonically but have a greater focus on the songwriting aspect,” says Robert DeLong. The Long Way Down EP – released on November 10, 2014, is DeLong’s first new music since 2013’s critically praised breakthrough debut, Just Movement; DeLong shows both his diversity and maturity.

From the electro rock intro of the opening title track, which segues into “Acid Rain” - a quirky synth-driven tune, to the funky keys of “Feels Like,” and the blend of down-tempo and Steely Dan-esque pop of the closing “Isabel St.,” DeLong displays a wide range of styles and influences.

Despite the diversity and immersion in unique sounds and styling beats, these four new tracks are more traditionally written than previous work says DeLong. “They have more of a traditional structure than some of the songs on Just Movement, which is something I set out to achieve on this EP.”

Just as he did on the superb Just Movement, where he combined “rave-tastic” beats with thoughtful and universal lyrics, DeLong showcases his admirable lyrical skills right from the outset. The EP opens with DeLong singing in the title track, “I’ve been fucking around while you’ve been saving the world. I’ve been out of my mind, I’ve been dreaming things and seeing things. I’ve been smoking the poison, you’ve been slinging your antidote.”

While a number of artists in recent years have emerged with mixed electronic sensibilities and heavy beats as well as singer/songwriter tendencies, few, if any, have done it with the deft touch of DeLong, as exemplified in “Feels Like” - “We’re just trapped, like we’re living in a snow globe.”

DeLong cemented his rising star status globally in 2013 with a slew of big-name festival appearances, including Coachella, Lollapalooza, Splendour in the Grass (Australia), Reading/Leeds (UK), Oppikoppi (South Africa), Lowlands (Holland), Rock n’ Heim (Germany) and a star-making turn at Made In America Festival in Philadelphia. His live show continues to grow more impressive with ever-expanding production and visuals to match his one of a kind stage presence, where he mixes his ground breaking (and often self-created) instrumentation which includes video game controllers and monster drum solos - showcasing his background in jazz.

While the music on Long Way Down has evolved, DeLong continuously strives to deliver an even more explosive stage show to concertgoers with each performance. “The show is growing more bombastic and wild. If I’m playing a festival I ask myself, ‘How can I make everyone feel connected to me and each other with what I’m doing on stage?’ It’s about building an energy or spirit with the crowd and riding it together through to the last note,” he notes.

DeLong won many of his fans over with his strong beats, aforementioned drum solos and an engaging live experience that includes free face painting - adding to the communal feeling in the audience. But once people became familiar with his music, they dove even further into the songs and found stories of relationships, growing up and human nature, something that told DeLong he was on the right track.

“A lot of fans were first introduced to me through my festival performances, which are always a high-energy party experience,” he stated. “Then they would go back, buy the album, and tell me, ‘I listened to your album, and it’s the lyrics that speak to me the most.’ That really resonated deeply with me. It told me I was headed on the right path as a songwriter and that I should continue to strive to write songs with a strong lyrical focus.”

DeLong’s ability to mix catchy beats and lyrics can be attributed to his wide musical tastes, which range from Flume to Paul Simon. “I wrote ‘Long Way Down’ after I’d been listening to Flume a lot - slow tempo, funky rhythms. However, in terms of vocal delivery would be the moment Paul Simon creeps in,” he says.

Of course these songs were also well shaped by life on the road - especially playing around the world. “Being on tour, especially at festivals, you meet and see so many types of bands, so I’m always just trying to glean influence from artists’ live shows and find ideas and sounds that I like,” he says. “Last year we were on tour in Australia and Architecture in Helsinki was there. Not only did they put on such a fun show, there are so many impressive little things about the way they write songs, and some of that seeped in to my own music.”

Lyrically, the songs reflect DeLong’s adventures on and off tour since Just Movement was released. “Two of the four songs were written on tour. ‘Isabel Street’ was written while I was in South Africa. Isabel Street was where I lived in L.A. at the time, up in Mount Washington,” he says. “I wrote most of ’Acid Rain’ while on an airplane flying from a festival. ‘Feels Like’ was something I wrote when I had time off. It reflects on my life from being a madman on the road to when I’m home and the hardest thing to do is to remember to take that garbage out.”

Ultimately, Long Way Down is the next step for a gifted and compelling artist such as DeLong. “My tastes have changed pretty drastically since I wrote and released Just Movement. Some of the songs on Just Movement are now five to six years old. In my eyes the evolution of my work has been a slow progression, but for some of my fans it might seem like a quick leap up to something new. I’ve always had pretty eclectic tastes.”

Long Way Down is a precursor to DeLong’s second full-length, scheduled to be released in March 2015. The sophomore effort promises just as much musical eclecticism, paired with the beloved innovative instrumentation fans all know and love, exemplifying DeLong’s maturity and evolution in his artistry.