Jesse Miller Of Lotus Talks About Their Tour, How The Band Met, And The Progression Of Their Sound
Founded in 2001, Lotus has continuously proven their capabilities to integrate their unique style of jam music with the modern trends of today's electronic world.
Whether they are playing their own headlining show or a set at a top destination music festival, the group brings an energy to their audience that keeps fans on their toes at any given moment.
iEDM got the chance to sit down with bass guitarist and sampler of the group Jesse Miller.
iEDM: You guys just played Gem and Jam and then began the west coast portion of your tour, how's that been going?
Jesse: It's been good. We don't get out there often, maybe once every year or other year. It's always fun, and we love going to California, we've had some good shows out there.
iEDM: Any other recent stops on the the tour worth mentioning?
Jesse: The Portland show about a week ago. We also did two nights in San Francisco, actually L.A. was a lot of fun to, so pretty much the entire West coast.
iEDM: You have a couple notable and diverse openers joining you on your tour like JackLNDN, Slow Magic, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. As a band that has been around for over a decade, how does it feel having these new styles and acts join you on stage?
Jesse: It's interesting, a band like Lotus crosses a pretty wide swath of genres. So DJs like Slow Magic or even a group like El Ten Eleven that was opening up for us on the West coast, all kind of work with a Lotus show, just in different ways. It could be band or a DJ. We've played with all those openers before I believe, and it went really well.
iEDM: You’re an electronic jam band who tours across the country and has fans who follow you guys multiple stops along the way, how does that feel?
Jesse: It's great! They enable us to have a career. There's also the challenge of getting into new styles or doing things differently when you've been around for a long time. Sometimes those people that have been around a while are a little weary of change, but we always want to push forward, do something new, and keep people on their toes, and keep it exciting for ourselves.
iEDM: Speaking of keeping people on their toes, the Eat The Light Remixes came out recently. What is your take on this transformation of your original pieces?
Jesse: Luke (Miller) really headed that project. That's more of his world and he sought out these artists. It's always cool to get stems out there to different people and have them do their take on it, and hopefully get Lotus into the ears of people that might not have heard it otherwise.
iEDM: You've been around since 2001, how did Lotus originally come about?
Jesse: Luke and I are brothers, and we met Mike in high school at this church camp that we would go to in the winter. He lived in Kansas, and would come out for that. Luke and Mike spent a semester in college together and they immediately had plans, even before they got to college, to start a group. The next summer they all came out here to Colorado, and I joined up them, and we've been kind of doing Lotus ever since. We did it in college as learning how to play in a band, and starting to write music, and just kind of learning the ropes. Then we started getting into touring after we got out of school.
iEDM: How has your style changed over the last 16 years since the group’s creation?
Jesse: I think of it as a balloon that expands in a bunch of different directions, but still encompasses a lot of things. A lot of our earlier compositions were really simple. Maybe an A Part / B Part, to something that would set up an improvisation. As we went along, we definitely got more savvy about the compositions. Then we got more interested interested in bringing in electronic elements and taking cues from some dance styles. Then also, you can go more in a rock direction than some of our earlier stuff too. So like I said, expanding to encompass more kinds of sounds.
iEDM: How do you guys go about planning your set lists?
Jesse: Luke writes the set lists, and he kind of has a formula. We're looking at what we played last time we were in the market, what we played the night before, what we've played over the course of the tour. Maybe looking at what's a good song to open a set with, or a good one to close it with. We're also looking at whether there's a good mix of new and old, and also covering different tempos and styles. We normally don't want a set that's all one tempo. So taking all of those things into consideration.
iEDM: We have a fan question for you, why did you ever come up with the song "Basin To Benin?"
Jesse: "Basin To Benin" was a song that I wrote. The band Soul Rebels from New Orleans heard us play a remix of one of our own songs, which had Lyrics Born rapping on it for our Monks album. This song was called "Cannon in the Heavens." They had heard that song, and really dug it. They were Tweeting at us, and started emailing us and said "hey maybe we can do a collaboration at some point." So I kind of started writing this song with the idea of getting them involved. I started sending them parts, and they got in a studio down in New Orleans and cut a bunch of horn parts and sent those back. I got all those back, cut those up, put it back in, had them do another round. That's how it sort of came together. As for the title, Basin is in reference to New Orleans. Benin is the West African country so the kind of basic groove I used for that song was based on a 70's funk groove from Benin.
iEDM: If you had to collaborate with any band, which band would it be?
Jesse: I've been a big fan of Brian Eno's work both as a solo artist and as a producer for a long time. I think it would be really interesting to do something with him.
iEDM: You’ve played mega-festivals like Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Ultra, and Electric Forest that you’ll be returning to again for both weekends this year. Which festivals are looking forward to returning to?
Jesse: Definitely Electric Forest. We've played from the very first Rothbury, and have played almost all of them since then. It's definitely a stand-out festival. Very awesome grounds, very well put together, and the crowds are awesome. That's definitely a highlight, so it's cool that we're able to do two weekends this year. I know that one weekend has already sold-out, so it looks like the new two-weekend thing is going to be a success. Hopefully more of that to come. I would play any weekend at Electric Forest!
iEDM: Do you have anything else you want to say to your fans?
Jesse: We love the Colorado fans! It's awesome we can come play big venues like The Fillmore Auditorium and Red Rocks. I grew up around here so it's always great to be back in Colorado!
Photo credit: JV Photography