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Eliot Lipp puts down the bong and falls in love with smooth jazz

Synthetic soul



If Eliot Lipp's 2009 release Peace Love Weed 3-D was a gimmicky nod to dorm room bong hits (every track clocked in at four minutes and 20 seconds), then the recently-released How We Do: Moves Made is a portrait of a mature artist graduating to vaporized sativas.

"I think some people are disappointed that there are no club tracks, but I can't force myself to make tracks that I don't want to make," says Lipp of How We Do. "We weren't trying to make it cool."

A collaboration with Lipp's childhood friend, Jasia 10, the new album opens with "Sunrise," featuring an emotive, addictive key-and-vocal hook. "Move It" follows suit.

Lipp and Jasia 10 first recorded together at 15, bonding over their mutual love of meticulously picking through the local record store's stock in their hometown of Tacoma, Wash. Last year, the pair took turns flying between Washington and Lipp's home in Brooklyn, recording the entirety of How We Do in their home studios, using live guitars, percussion, and synth tracks.

"Every genre we're interested in makes an appearance on this album, from hip-hop and techno to jazz and funk," explains Lipp. "It's good to have all those influences."

The pair even utilized field recordings and a voicemail from a friend in the mixes, collecting random samples wherever they presented themselves. Free of the previous album's time restrictions, the pair stretched out and let each song take its natural course.

"Doing stupid shit like that [the Peace Love Weed songs], it's important for me to remember that I need to approach music with a sense of humor," Lipp says, clarifying that even that album was still a serious endeavor. On How We Do, however, he chose to prioritize melodies over club beats.

"Each song started with a short 30-second keyboard jam," he says of the new project. "We would both get on the keyboards and mess around until we stumbled upon a melody. It's fun to start a track that way. Some people start with the drums or with a sample, but this way, I think, is why the album became so melodic."

Since completing How We Do, Lipp has begun using Melodyne, a new software that allows users to alter the pitch of samples without changing the playback speed.

"When you slow up or speed down a sample to change the pitch, you end up with certain notes that are out of key, but it gets complicated," Lipp says. "To me, it's like a metaphor — combining records made in different eras, different countries, and by totally different people, and bringing it all together into one song."

For How We Move, Lipp relied heavily on the jazz of the late '70s and early '80s, much of which falls into the "smooth" category. He's not offended by the comparison to music playing in a T.J. Maxx.

"It's got an adult contemporary vibe," he admits. "I dig it. We've been called New Age, and that doesn't bother me at all."

Veteran fans of Lipp's highly danceable live show shouldn't lament. He's touring with drummer Cru Jones and drawing from his seven-year recording catalog. Still, the sideways hat contingent might have to share their womp-womp room with a maturing audience interested in Lipp's more recent down-tempo efforts.

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