Volta Bureau is the new electro/house/dance collaboration of DC’s movers & shakers of the electronic music scene Will Eastman, Micah Vellian (Miguel Lacsamana) and Outputmessage (Bernard Farley). I have known Will and Miguel for several years, initially through my old band Soft Complex. Miguel (then under the moniker Person) did a remix for our 2006 EP, and we had the pleasure of performing a live set at Will’s Bliss Pop dance party at the 930 club in 2007. I was super excited to hear they had come together to form this new group, along with Bernard Farley- they all have talent, drive and style in spades. I have a feeling this trinity is one to watch!
This week I had a chance to chat with Miguel, aka Micah Vellian, and ask him a few questions about Volta Bureau.
Alexia Kauffman: So, I know you all have been active in the DC music scene for years, but how did you decide to come together for this project?
Micah Vellian: Bernard Farley (Outputmessage) and I were living in the same house, with a shared studio space, around 2007 and worked on Dmerit. Around that time, Will Eastman and I started working on music together for his tracks. For the next few years we wound up just bouncing ideas off each other, remix each others’ stuff and DJ together. Initially, all three of us had vastly divergent styles, but eventually we all started moving towards the same musical direction. The best example of that is Will’s balearic-esque remix of Dmerit’s “Stuck On You”. That was the first track where all three of us had a substantial input. The bulk of the original work was Bernard. I added a few elements. Then Will retained a lot of our ideas, but switched up the atmosphere and sequencing. At this point, Dmerit wasn’t even sure if we were going to release a remix EP. Will had taken the initiative to promote his remix, and then the next thing we knew, Tiesto had charted it on his blog! So it kind of forced the issue of releasing an EP. But, more importantly, we realized that the sum of all our work was larger than the individual parts.
AK: Can you explain what exactly Volta Bureau is? (band? dj troupe? other?)
MV: Volta Bureau is a band of producers/musicians. Live performance is going to be a central part of Volta Bureau. Sure we’ve only been DJing, thus far, but our live show will be our main mode of performance.
AK: How would you describe/What would you call the kind of music you all are creating?
MV: It’s often hard to define one’s style, especially when you’re involved. We definitely want the music speak for itself. Fortunately for us, Chad Clark said this, regarding our music, on Twitter the other day; “House music made with deep love for the form. Worth your attention.”
AK: What are each of your roles in the group?
MV: There aren’t really any defined roles, per se. We play to our strengths and we all work towards a common goal. When it comes to writing music, performing, and everything else involving the band, we all strive to share the load equally.
AK: What has the creative process been like as far as putting songs together, recording and preparing for live shows?
MV: When it comes to creating songs, we all bring ideas to the table and finalize everything once we reach an enthusiastic consensus. I can’t go into details about our live show, because we are trying to keep it under wraps until our first live performance in October at Artisphere. With that said, however, it’s not just going to be three dudes up there staring at laptops. It will be a live performance.
AK: Where did the name come from? What is the significance?
MV: Will got the name from Alexander Graham Bell’s laboratory, of the same name, based in Georgetown. It’s perfect because the lab developed a lot of audio technologies. We, as a group, work in a very scientific way. It can’t really be helped, seeing as how all three of us come from academic backgrounds (Will was a former historian, Bernard has a Masters in Abstract Algebra, and I used to teach English). All three of us also love DC and what better way than being named after an historic DC landmark?
AK: What are some of your main influences? (musical, literary, art, etc…)
MV: Collectively, we are all into Kraftwerk, Cajmere, Daft Punk, Moroder, Chic, Salsould Records, Larry Levan, Robert Hood, New Order, Prince, Zapp & Roger, Quincy Jones, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and Mark Rothko.
AK: Aside from influences, are there any musicians out right now that you’re really excited by?
MV: Azari & III, Maya Jane Coles, Runaway, Maceo Plex, Art Department, Tensnake, Danny Daze, and dOP
AK: How was it opening for Thievery Corporation a couple weeks ago? Was the crowd receptive? Was that the biggest crowd any of you have played for? (Pretty impressive gig!)
MV: It was definitely a huge crowd. We didn’t really get to dj as long as we usually do, but people seemed to dig what we were playing.
AK: What can people expect from your live show?
MV: We want people to enjoy our music as much as we do. So if anything, that’s what one can expect from our shows.
AK: Any plans for touring/out of town shows in support of your new album?
MV: It’s too early to say, but we “Hope” to support our new single in the coming months.
AK: Plans to take over the world?
MV: Not currently, but you never know.
You can see Volta Bureau perform a DJ set this Saturday for the record release party at U Street Music Hall. Their first live performance will be at Artisphere in Arlington on October 8th. Check out the video for their first single “Hope” here, or listen here.
“Hope” Record Release Party
Saturday, September 3rd