Pretty Lights Music is loaded with solo electronic acts, so it’s refreshing to see that as lead man Derek Smith (Pretty Lights) has shed drummers over the years, Pretty Lights Music as a label is increasingly inclusive.
The “No Egos, No Tomatoes” tour will stop at the Fox Theatre on Nov. 17, featuring PLM members Gramatik, Michal Menert, SuperVision and Paul Basic with the intent to smear its own dynamic.
Denis Jasarvic, who performs as Gramatik, described this new teamwork mentality to Boulder Weekly over the phone. “That’s how Michal and I were trying to set the tone of the tour, to be one big collective tour of people not concerned with egos. That’s why we called it ‘No Egos, No Tomatoes.’ We both hate egos, and we hate tomatoes even more. Mike and I discovered this one day when we started the tour — that we’ll eat every single derivative of tomatoes except the raw tomato itself.
“That shit,” Jasarvic says, likely of both egos and raw tomatoes, “makes us puke.”
So in the spirit of what Jasarvic described as a “label tour,” joining them will be Coloradans and new PLM members Supervision and Paul Basic, opening for an inclusive dual-headline setup as Jasarvic and Menert play back-and-forth 30-minute sets.
PLM thrives on mid-tempo electro, and Jasarvic and Menert have volumes between them of heavy, plodding rhythms with a slinky attitude. Guitarist Alex will shred it onstage as part of Gramatik, and all three will eventually join forces at the end of the night.
“Every night we switch up a little bit depending on how we feel. We’re not like, you have to end up with this track so I have to start with this one; you do it on the go.”
PLM proudly waves a Colorado flag, but Jasarvic and Menert were born in Slovenia and Poland, respectively. Though Menert grew up in Colorado, Jasarvic stayed in Slovenia long enough to release a hip-hop album in 2006 (in Slovenian) and moved steadily into electro territory with 2008’s Beatz & Pieces Vol. 1.
The idea that someone was making soul-revering electrohop in Slovenia was as strange to Pretty Lights’ Derek Smith as it was for Jasarvic to learn that somebody in equally remote Fort Collins shared the same vision.
“It makes us as humans feel more connected that way,” Jasarvic says. “It’s not limited to some environment or nationality. It’s universal. It makes you feel good; it’s art in itself.”
Along with the excellent Expedition 44, an album of pure 4/4, East-Europe tech house, Jasarvic also manages to pay tribute to regional music as well.
“There’s not that much to sample, because folk music of Slovenia, and Slovenian music particularly, is all major, and I’m a minor type of guy,” Jasarvic says. “So our folk music is the opposite, like polka, the happy shit. So I can’t do shit with that, I’m a blues type of guy. I’m blue at least five times a day. So all that major stuff mixes with minor, it sounds disturbingly happy.”
Where Gramatik and Menert will really succeed is how they bring these sounds together in a live mix, especially with volumes from Gramatik’s Beatz and Pieces and Street Bangerz collections that play through like beat tapes.
“We’re not going to limit ourselves to anything,” Jasarvic says. “So say I’m not a one-genre type of producer, I definitely don’t want to be a one-genre type of sampler. I try to sample everything that I feel I can do justice to, it can be folk music from Bulgaria, if I feel that fuckin’ beat, I’m going to try to slip it in. Whatever comes our way and it’s hot, we’re going to make it hotter.”
Look for Gramatik’s collaboration with labelmates Break Science, “Boogie Down,” coming out the week of the show.
On the Bill
Michal Menert and Gramatik play the Fox Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 17. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Supervision and Paul Basic open. Tickets are $17 in advance, $20 day of show, with a $2 fee for being under 21. 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399.