String Cheese Talk About Their Role With Electric Forest And Curating Experiences in iEDM Exclusive Interview
String Cheese Incident fused the electronic scene and jam scene together Into one and opened many fans interests to another realm of music. They are an act that anyone will enjoy because they shift through genres and bend musical boundaries.
String Cheese is a Colorado band made of up of Kyle Hollingsworth, Bill Nershi, Michael Kang, Jason Hann, Keith Moseley, and Michael Travis. They each bring different elements to the band, and together work in perfect harmony all while obviously having a great time themselves.
Most of the guys in the band have side projects, in fact some even perform as EDM acts. For example, Jason Hann has a solo project called Prophet Massive that is heavy dub, and then together with Michael Travis, they perform as Eoto.
They are the host band of Electric Forest and Hulaween, bringing other artists from Skrillex to Matisyahu out to the stage to collaborate.
Everyone attending Forest or Hulaween talk all weekend about the Saturday night Cheese set, and for a reason. Their music is very positive and feel good, and is always a dance party. They often plan themes for their sets and give their audience a different experience every time.
I got the chance to sit down with two of the guys, Jason Hann (percussion) and Kyle Hollingsworth (piano) for an interview at Electric Forest weekend 2 in between rehearsals the day before their big 'Saturday Night Shebang.'
iEDM: You guys used to play six sets every weekend and now you're playing only four, so from three nights to two, why the change?
Kyle: Since it's two weekends long it made more sense to stretch out our shows. In one weekend, we get our groove on really well with three shows, but by the third show, voices are a little bit shot and energy is down, so I think this way it's a little more refreshing.
Jason: The number of sets that we would fit into three days of shows, it takes that much more out of you.
Kyle: Plus the whole shebang thing. It's cool, last weekend we were able to a special unique set and this weekend is our normal shebang.
iEDM: So what was last week's sets like?
Kyle: It was a bunch of sit ins from all the EDM world, and even outside of that.
Jason: We had the Floozies up there with us, Kamasi Washington, Snarky Puppy, Matisyahu with Liquid Stranger. That was so fun. Brazillian Girls were up there.
Kyle: Brass Knuckles. It turned out to be a really fantastic set. We were all a little bit nervous and a lot of work went into it. We started at like 11 in the morning rehearsing, everyone about an hour. Then we didn't stop. No dinner. Straight through the set.
iEDM: That's amazing. I'm jealous, so is Saturday going to be even better?
Kyle: Even better! No worries.
iEDM: So how do you go about planning your sets when you do two weekends? Do you repeat songs or do you think a lot of fans are here for both?
Kyle: We are actually in that discussion right now.
Jason: *laughs* We're about to find out.
iEDM: I have always been under the impression that you guys are curators for this festival, is that true? What is your role with Electric Forest?
Kyle: Yeah, we visions ourselves as the curators or hosts of the event. It started with a String Cheese and Madison House vision coming together and bringing the idea of a multiple genre type bill, mixed with the experience of the Forest. We had a Forest going, that kind of concept, many years before at Hornings Hideout. We took the disco balls, and the trees, and the hammocks, and just kind of put it here. So in that sense, I think we were there from the beginning. And I think with sets like last week, we are kind of in that host spot. We like to bring everybody together.
Jason: I think we are without a doubt, a bridge between the jam scene and the electronic scene. I was talking to some kids after the show last night. This one guy was like "I was only into electronic music and I saw you guys here a few years ago and you guys are my favorite band now." It's great to see how things cross.
iEDM: Yes, I always say you guys are the only band I've seen go from bluegrass to electronic in one set, and I'm like how did they do that? So when you guys do rehearsals, you guys bring in everyone that's going to play with you that night?
Kyle: Yes. Generally we'll bring them in and stage them one by one. We're going to be doing some music with Big Gigantic tonight and see how that goes. We put the offer out for whoever wants to join us.
iEDM: You guys were recently featured on VICE for "My One and Only" video, tell me a little about that.
Kyle: That was a tune I wrote with Bonnie from Elephant Revival. I had a dream of the melody and the chorus. You know how every once in a while you can wake up and actually tape your dream.. you'll wake up like I wish I could remember that dream.. well this is one of those few moments where I woke up and ran to the piano and saved a little bit of it.
And I brought it to Cheese two or three years ago, and we kind of worked it out and said this song, I can sing it, but it needs a nice female vocalist and I had worked with Bonnie in the past, so she and I got together and wrote the lyrics as well. Then she came in the studio and recorded and then we wanted to do a video. She had a cool video, she works with Gregory Alan Isakov a lot and he had done really cool videos so we try to work with people in that scene and we found someone similar.
Jason: It was so well done and so beautiful.
Kyle: It was important to me as I was getting feeds of it, I don't want it to be too hippy, I don't want it to be too Cheese specific, just more graphic.
iEDM: It's very artsy. You guys always seem to support the arts, from aerial performances and lots of circus acts and things going on. What inspires that?
Jason: Kang and Travis have been going to Burning Man since 1998. Kang in particular knows a lot of the artists that set up installations out there and to a degree, brought pretty much all the artists that he knew to this property when they were doing the Rothbury Fest. Almost all of those people have stayed around and contributed in different ways. At Burning Man they usually do all that for free or they have a grant. But that's there thing for the year and now festivals are starting to ask them to do stuff. Kang was a big part of the connections here. And now fans are going through seeing one of these sculptures that you would only see at Burning Man, which are jaw dropping. You don't see those things anywhere. I just think almost with removal of a stage, then there's just art all around and you can just be like wow..
Kyle: That's true, the removal of the stage is where you can just be fully immersed in the arts.
iEDM: And you guys are doing that with Hulaween too.
Kyle: Yes! I think it's always been part of our thing to have every show be an 'incident' to some degree, where it's more than just music, that you are involved in production, and hopefully that you feel like you are part of the production.
Jason: Yeah, we find ourselves in wow too. We don't see it until everyone else sees it too, so we find ourselves playing like what the.. what is going on.. ya know.. it's really cool and amazing.
iEDM: The Hulaween Festival lineup just dropped. It looks great. Anything planned for that?
Kyle: We are looking for suggestions.
iEDM: Yeah, how do you out do yourselves? The themes the last two years were 70s and 80s.. will there be a 90s?
Kyle: What would be 90s?
Jason: Nirvana for sure.
Kyle: Haha, I don't know, we'll see.
iEDM: How did you guys get the name String Cheese Incident?
Kyle: Well we're the newest guys in the band and we haven't been in the band long enough to tell us. Once we've been in the band over 23 years, on that 23rd new years, we'll sit down with an envelop.
Jason: That could be anytime now.
iEDM: How was the Los Muertos Con Queso this past winter?
Jason: Oh wow. That was really really fun. Hanging with the guys from the Dead and stuff They've become friends and all super talented.
Kyle: We've been working with them for so long at this point, since like 91. It was so fun, anytime you can get down on the beach, walk through the ocean while watching your favorite music.
iEDM: What can Cheese fans look forward to coming up?
Kyle: We've got Red Rocks. I am making an ice cream for Red Rocks, a String Cheese Ice Cream and a beer. In August we are doing the Eclipse.
We are going to continue working on the lab. We have this new practice space, so I imagine we'll be coming out with some new singles. I am hoping one with did with the Floozies.
Jason: Yeah we did a brand new song last week in our set. It's a collaboration with the Floozies. It's a super feel good summer song. And we had a really fun time playing it.
Kyle: We are keeping good music coming from our creative space.
We can't wait to see you guys at Hulaween! Stay tuned for String Cheese's Electric Forest live set later this year on YouTube and stay up to date with their new releases on SCI Lab HERE.