An Interview with Autograf
The recent revolution in computer and digital technology has heavily influenced and increased the production and dissemination of music. Commentators and critics are still attempting to understand electronic music’s wider implications and future. With technological improvements, instruments have become more accessible and are easier to use. Sharing platforms such as SoundCloud, YouTube and BandCamp have rendered the uploading and distribution of music incredibly simple. It is therefore increasingly difficult to be heard and circulated as an artist. In this shifting and vast scene, it takes talent, expertise and vision in order to dominate the market. That is exactly what Autograf have done.
Autograf, the name selected by Jake Carpenter, Louis Kha and Mikul Wing in 2013 at its founding, represents the artists’ desire to leave a lasting artistic imprint on the world. Autograf’s tracks are joyful, energetic and perfect summer tunes. Below, the Hippo Collective is proud to present an interview with Autograf.
Where does the name Autograf originate?
The concept of Autograf is to encourage people to leave their mark on the world. And in the most literal sense that involves signing your name, or leaving your ‘autograph’. Everyone has a limited amount of time on this planet so you should make the most of it, and that means leaving your stamp on the world in some positive way or another. You can do it through art, music, dance, poetry, literally anything. It can be as simple as the experiences you spend with friends or kind words to strangers. We want to remind people that our actions make a difference, so make them count. We just want to encourage people to leave their Autograf.
How did you all come together to form such an innovative and creative group?
We were all in different music projects before we started with Autograf, but Jake and Mikul’s background is in visual art. Jake went to art school for sculpture and painting, and Mikul’s background is in street art and graphic design. So we started Autograf in some ways to get back to doing the kind of art that we all missed. It all started with a concept art installation/dance party event called Future Factory where we made pop art sculptures inspired by Andy Warhol. For example we made an 8-foot, 600-pound ‘Future Soup’ sculpture as well as our own interpretation of Warhol’s Brillo Boxes. So the Autograf project has its roots in art but then we started making music which began to gain tranction online. The growing demand for our music kind of pushed the project more in that direction, but we’d definitely like to bring the focus back to art at some point.
If a listener is just discovering your sounds, which song (original or remix) would you recommend they listen to first?
Our first original song ‘Dream’ to get a taste of the album we’re working on, then our Odesza ‘All We Need’ remix and Christina Perri “Burning Gold’ remix to show the grittier side of our music.
How do the dynamics in the group work? Do you interchange roles or each stick to a single general area of expertise?
We started Autograf inspired by the concept of Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’ and where we treat the group like an artist collective. We all have input into the different facets of the group, but someone usually takes the lead with one thing. Jake takes the lead with the music, Mikul with the visual art, and I (Louis) usually take the lead with the live performance and mixes. Typically someone will start an idea and then we’ll all collectively figure out which direction it’ll go and eventually end up with the finished product. Just like Warhol’s ‘Factory’ we want to bring creative minds together working in cohesion to make some really awesome stuff.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the industry, who would it be?
Niles Rogers has expressed interest in performing live with us, and possibly doing a collab, so that would be amazing.
So far, which experience, either producing or touring, has been the most fulfilling and fun?
I think it’s the journey and process of building a project that’s most fulfilling. It wouldn’t be as much fun if we just became famous overnight, but putting all your passion and work into something and seeing it grow is very fulfilling. We’re more into the process of creating art or music rather than the end product. After we create something, we typically don’t listen or look at it anymore. What’s fun is making the shit!
What is your creative process like? Where do you find inspiration for new songs?
Sometimes it comes from being in an inspirational place like the beaches of Zihuatanejo in Mexico where we laid out the initial ideas of our first original song ‘Dream’ and then sometimes it comes from mundane activities like mowing your lawn. Often it comes from hearing another song that you want to put your own interpretation on. For instance when 50 Cent’s ‘Magic Stick’ came on the radio while I was cruising around in Los Angeles, I thought it would sound really cool as a chilled out Deep House version, so we made one. And sometimes a song or melody just starts playing in your head and you have to figure out a way to recreate it. Inspiration can come at anytime and at any place so you have to be ready to pounce on it!
As summer rolls around, which upcoming project are you all looking forward to the most?
We have new remixes for Avicii, Griz and Faithless all coming out this summer. And then after that we have a bunch of new original songs that we can’t wait to share with the world. Also we’re really excited about continuing to develop the live performance. Currently we’re performing with a marimba, djembe and controllers. We’re also going to finish building an electric drum made out of clear acrylic that will be light reactive. So the next phase of our live show is to really bring a new and interesting visual aspect to the music.
I take it that you are touring. Could fans still grab tickets to upcoming concerts or festivals?
Yes! We’re really excited to be performing for the first time in Asia, so come see us at ‘It’s the Ship’
If you would like a bit of blank space to express yourselves, it would be awesome to hear some thoughts that are not prompted by a question!
The most successful people are the ones that have failed the most. That’s been a rallying call for Autograf. We’ve realized that we’ve all failed many times. We’ve had a clothing line and art gallery space that flooded in the most dramatic fashion. We’ve had an underground music, art and poetry slam space that epically ended with the roof collapsing. We’ve had live performances flop because we pushed the boundaries of what we were capable of doing at the time. We fail at making music everyday, knowing it’s not good enough, and pushing through until it is. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying, you’re not putting yourself out there. Those who fail the most, are taking risks, learning from their mistakes and making shit happen. Nothing turns out perfectly, but it’s these failures that push you to being better. It’s these failures that create an interesting canvas to paint on. So go ahead, fail hard and you might become like us!
The Hippo Collective would like to thank Autograf for the taking the time to chat with us. Make sure to keep up with their social media and check out their upcoming album. Head over to their Soundcloud page for perfect summer tunes.
The future of electronic dance music is exciting, mysterious and developing. You can be sure that Autograf will be spearheading artistic innovation and changing the way we think of and listen to music for years to come.