Pop Quiz: Thievery Corporation

Aidin Vaziri | For the past 15 years, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have quietly built an empire around their eclectic electronic music act, Thievery Corporation. The Washington, D.C., producer-DJ duo hasn’t just released albums and played major festivals such as Coachella and Treasure Island, but it also runs its own studio, label and nightclub. Then there are the high-profile soundtrack appearances (“Garden State,” “The Sopranos”) and big-name collaborations (David Byrne, Perry Farrell). The group is on tour in support of its sixth album, the politically charged “Culture of Fear.” We talked to Garza, who recently relocated to San Francisco.

Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation
Q: Electronic music fans are notoriously fickle. How have you kept the band relevant all that time?
A: On one of our first trips to London, guys would tell us, “You’re doing down-tempo – your music is dead. It’s all about drum ‘n’ bass now.” From the beginning, people were telling us we were passe. It’s funny to be doing it 15 years later. We’re a no-hit wonder. We don’t have any hit songs. It’s allowed us longevity. People respect the music and still feel they’re discovering it themselves.
Q: Sometimes having a hit is the worst thing that can happen to you.
A: Imagine if you’re in that band A-ha, who did “Take On Me.” That would suck. With us, people don’t really know the particular songs. A lot of times people don’t know the band but they probably heard the music in “True Blood” or “The Sopranos” or the coffee shop. It’s out there, but people don’t even realize it’s out there. It makes it a lot better. When people come up to us it’s because they recognize and respect us for the music not because they saw us on MTV.
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