Posts Tagged ‘EOTO’

Musical Risk | An Interview with Jason Hann of EOTO

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Musical Risk – An Interview with Jason Hann of EOTO

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward []


Thanks to Danny Lithin for the photograph!  Your work is amazing stuff!

Crisscrossing the country like an out-of-control game of cat’s cradle, EOTO, fronted by String Cheese Incident dynamic-duo Michael Travis (bass/guitar/keyboards) and Jason Hann (drums/percussion), is a live all-improvisational electronica project in pursuit of making obstacles into opportunities within a genre vastly diluted and often over-saturated.

Coming to fruition during late-night experimental jam sessions at Travis’ humble abode, the idea soon snowballed amid a youthful curiosity each had with the latest technology and pioneering acts emerging from the depths of the underground scene.

With over 600 start-from-scratch performances under their belt during the last four years, Travis and Hann still found enough time to release three studio albums (Elephants Only Talk Occasionally (2006), Razed (2008), Fire the Lazers!!! (2009)) and two compilations (K-Turns & U-Turns Vol. 1: Fall Tour Complilation 2008 (2009), K-Turns & U-Turns Vol. 2: Best of 2009 (2010)).

Baring witness to them recently at the Nateva Music Festival, I was awestruck: “The calming, yet claustrophobic electronica presence of EOTO pulls eyes wide open, in awe of a glimpse of not only possibility and grandeur, but also the evolution of mankind. Their futuristic beats, paying homage to our ancestors, echo off sacred land with a howl to creation and its greatest assets- humanity, rhythm, and dance.

Garret K. Woodward: What is EOTO?

Jason Hann: An all-live and all-improvised electronica band made up of [myself] and Michael Travis. We play electronic club music, going through styles such as dubstep, electro, and house.

GKW: What does improvisational music mean to you?

JH: The musical equivalent of jumping off a cliff and seeing where you end up. Musical risk.

GKW: What was your first encounter with improvisational music? When was the first time you yourself played improvisational music?

JH: I’ve seen my dad play improvised music since I was able to comprehend stuff. I was around 11 when I remember trying to make anything up in the context of a performance.

GKW: What influence did electonica have on the String Cheese Incident?

JH: Seems like it’s been around since Kang and Travis have been going to Burning Man. That was some of the inspiration for introducing acts like STS9 and Bassnectar to a larger jam-band audience. There are definitely some SCI songs like “Rivertrance”, “Valley of the Jig”, and “Bump and Reel” that are electronic inspired. Many jams from songs like “Big Shoes” and “Desert Dawn” lean towards an electronica vibe.

GKW: What influence does the String Cheese Incident have on EOTO?

JH: Creating an atmosphere where people from all different backgrounds can gather to rage it together.

GKW: What lured you towards an electronica project? What do you love about electronica?

JH: When we would do late-night jams at Travis’ house, we set up all sorts of different things to play as a duo and just have fun. Eventually Travis started using some looping pedals that he had and it felt better to play electronic grooves against them. I suggested this program called Ableton Live, which gives you so much control over each looped track. Once we started diving into that, it gave us inspiration to try and play as a live project.

GKW: How does the dynamic of only two members affect the band’s approach? Will it always be two members?

JH: It will always be two members. It works so good having Travis be in charge of the harmonic information and me being in charge of the rhythmic information. We don’t have to signal each other for key changes or groove changes, only tempo changes. This lets us listen to each other while diving into our own worlds of gear and moving on to new themes at a good pace. It’s all about the pace.

GKW: EOTO started as a side project, but now has taken on a life of its own. Did you intent for it to get as big and as hectic of a never-ending tour as its become?

JH: We were hurting when we first played out. We weren’t very good and we didn’t have a distinct sound. We tried to imitate acts like STS9, Tipper, and Bassnectar as we liked their music and that was the scene we wanted to reach out to. When we first played, there weren’t that many people that showed up to check us out. Of those people, lots of them were curious SCI fans that were turned off by seeing a laptop on stage, and, again, we weren’t very good. We didn’t have our publicity together so we weren’t getting the word out very well eithter. We knew that the only way for us to get better and create our own crowd was to just keep touring and play every night. 600 plus shows later, in four years, we feel like we found our sound and our audience and still have a hunger to get better and keep evolving.

GKW: It seems you will play anywhere, anytime. I look at the tour itinerary and it’s literally every venue from coast to coast. Why do you prefer a tour schedule like that? What do you like about playing these little known or off-the-beaten-path venues?

JH: We realize we evolve faster the more we play. After two weeks of playing every night, we’re going to sound different. Many people comment after seeing us at the beginning of a tour and at the end of a tour and notice all of the new things we’ve incorporated into our sound. Playing the off-the-beaten-path venues are great because it becomes an x-factor for us. Usually those places don’t have bands come through all of the time, so the people that know about it are more excited to spread the word so that some kind of scene can come from the opportunity. That usually creates an explosive vibe from note one. Playing places like Aberdeen, South Dakota and Fargo, North Dakota and Oklahoma City and Key West have been some of our most frenzied shows.

GKW: What do you like about playing a small venue? What about playing a late-night set at a festival?

JH: Small venues with a decent sound system is more the category we like. When the sound is good, it doesn’t matter where we’re playing, we’re usually able to get off on that. Late-night festival action is just such a party waiting to happen. People have been raging but the late-night is where they get everything else out. That’s usually where they empty the tank before sleeping. If you do a good show, it comes back to you tenfold.

GKW: What’s on the horizon for you guys?

JH: New recordings and hopefully expanding our regular tour scenario oversees to Japan, Europe, and South America.

GKW: What affect does EOTO have on the future of the String Cheese Incident?

JH: Not as much from the touring standpoint. From a musical standpoint, some of the jams may want to go into some of the styles that we cover in EOTO. Not like we’re trying to do more of it in the course of a a night, but when we do, it may take on a different flavor.

GKW: How do you stay relevant in the electronica industry, an industry which is often overrun and sometimes a very diluted genre?

JH: That’s the best part about improvising live. Electronic music is pretty disposable. There are very few songs that retain a life of more than a few years or even a few months. When we’re improvising, we’re putting out music in a rapid fire way that is inspired by what we’re listening to at the time. When we first heard dubstep, we tried it the next show we played. As long as we keep our ears open and keep developing our own sound, we stay more relevant than a producer who may not feel comfortable producing anything out of his or her style at the time.

GKW: What’s going through your head when your onstage, in that sweaty, chaotically climatic musical moment?

JH: I’m thinking, “What’s the next thing we can do to make the people dance harder?”, “What’s the next transition that’s going make people lose their minds?”, “What’s the next groove that’s gonna keep the people going?”.

GKW: What’s you state of mind right now?

JH: Anticipation


Monday, August 9th, 2010

Video Production : Elliott Beenk & Joe Bookman

Contributing Writer : Griffen Harris

Contributing Photographer : Carrie Guenther

Camp Euforia, a festival founded by Iowa City’s own Euforquestra, is a festival aimed at providing attendees with an excellent taste of world, afro-Cuban, jam and reggae music, as well as a selection of up-and-coming local talent. In 2003, Euforquestra created the festival collaborating with friend and co-founder Jerry Hotz, owner of the farmland that Camp Euforia inhabits each year for two days of musical exploration, near Lone Tree. This partnership has created an ever-expanding annual event that continues to garner more and more attention on a national scale over the past seven years. Much of the music featured at Camp Euforia 2010 explored the world and “jam” genres although a few ventured into jazz/funk fusion like The Uniphonics of Iowa City; however, others explored more experimental realms such as Juno What?! (on tour from Colorado) and Eoto among others.

The bands featured at this year’s festival managed to erase age barriers and appeal to children and grandparents to create a genuine musical experience. The diversity of Camp Euforia is impressive in many aspects, not the least of which is its dedication to the local community. This can be seen by M.C. Ginsberg’s, a local jeweler, recurring sponsorship of the festival’s main stage, as well as the Iowa City Yacht Club’s stage and overall continued dedication to the improvement of the local music scene.


Another great feature of Camp Euforia is the inclusion of a free Saturday Morning Yoga class from Victor-Ian Yarn & Yoga – similar to those seen at larger festivals across the nation. This class allows any attendee to participate in professional yoga instruction absolutely free in the comfort of the euphoric landscape. Camp Euforia’s dedication to local life is astounding, and is representative of the grass roots music and community movement embodied to the hilt by Jerry Hotz (who allows nearly 1,500 people to temporarily inhabit his land each year!). In the coming year, Camp Euforia 2011 plans to expand and progress to new heights. Eric Quiner, former keyboardist of the founding band, Euforquestra, was quoted in the Gazette stating, “Each year the festival brings in enough money to keep planning the next year…we’re not getting rich over the deal” (Gazetteonline, 2010).

My interest in the festival stems from my own musical ventures over the years, and I would love to see an even greater diversification of music genres as well as a greater focus on the local talent portion of the festival. Because of the important role that community plays in Camp Euforia’s existence, it would be exciting to see more of Iowa City’s musical talent on the Iowa City Yacht Club’s barn stage or perhaps performing opening sets for the larger touring groups. A great strength that Camp Euforia yields rests in its dedicated attendees who brave the heat to camp in tents for two days of music, beautiful sunsets, relaxation, and old and new friends. Camp Euforia has a distinct ability to promote interaction between fellow festival-goers in contrast to larger festivals such as Lollapalooza or Bonaroo – the attendance is so massive that there is never any real chance to meet new people.

This past Euforia weekend provided me with a great look into a thriving local community I was previously unaware of.  With the music continuing through to the early hours of dawn, the energy in the air was positive and rejuvenating. I can only hope that Camp Euforia continues to expand while staying true to its community-born roots in the coming years because Jerry Hotz and Euforquestra have truly created something wonderful in this farmland festival.

Trinumeral Music Festival 08 – RFWtv

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

In 2008, RFWtv took a trek to one of the most beautiful festival sites we have experienced. On the radiant grass of Ashville, North Carolina, the 8th annual Trinumeral Music Festival featured performances from Galactic, Particle, GZA, Conspirator, The Mahavishnu Project and EOTO.