HOLLAGRAMZ: “Be whoever you want to be.”

05.05.10, Words by: Ruth Saxelby

HOLLAGRAMZ is a really lovely man called Ron who lives in Denver. He brews his own beer, grows his own food and, most importantly, makes the most incredible trance-inducing dancefloor jams this side of anywhere. Part of Denver’s Rhinoceropolis party scene and a pal of PICTUREPLANE (interview/Dummy mix here), his music feels almost religious. There’s a cyclic, layered, shamanistic edge to it that gifts the dancefloor with a higher purpose, that returns a validity to night-time and to night music. (Download his demo mix on the right to see what I mean.) It’s something he shares with New York’s sublime BLONDES, though HOLLOGRAMZ is unreservedly more rave. There’s also an intensity and depth to his sound that brings to mind HOUNDS OF HATE (interviewed here) and HEALTH (read their favourite noises), who he’s remixed. (You can also check this out on his demo mix.) We recently emailed back and forth for a couple of weeks. Here’s how it went.

I first heard about you via Pictureplane’s Denver mixtape for The Fader. Tromperz Cycle immediately grabbed me. It’s so heavy, heady and emotive – really mood altering. I listen to it on my headphones when I’m going about my day. Are you thinking about the dancefloor when you’re making it?

That’s awesome, that’s one of my favorite songs. I’m always thinking about the dance floor when making jams. But at the same time thinking about the melodies and the emotions they provoke. Always striving to make something that I can get lost in, and hoping others can too.

How did you get into making music?

I started playing guitar when I was 12, inspired by bands like Rage Against the Machine. All of that late 90’s heaviness. I also had this four track tape recorder that I would record jams on, then later on add in beats and keyboard. From there I got into all live instruments and have been playing music ever since.

So when did you start HOLLAGRAMZ and what was the idea behind it?

I started working on HOLLAGRAMZ about a year ago, then started playing shows about 9 months ago. It was my first time attempting to make electronic music. Having been to Burning Man for last last 3 years, I’m very inspired by the late night rave madness that happens there. I wanted to bring an element of that to Denver. My main objective behind it is to make people dance, REAL HARD. I want people to get lost in the music and forget about any bullshit that’s going on in their lives and just live in the moment and get crazy.

My best friend is going to Burning Man this year but sadly I can’t afford it. What’s it like? What’s your favourite memory from there?

If you can ever find a way to go to BM then do it! It’s worth your while. There is such a stigma about BM, a lot of people think that it’s just a bunch of hippies and burn outs in the desert, but it’s so much more and can be whatever you want it to be. I think BM can be sort of a kick in the face to someone who is used to the daily grind of the corporate, capitalist world that we live in. It’s a whole city (40,000 people+) made entirely out of love and art. No money. And like I said you can do whatever you want and be whoever you want to be. It’s all there. SO MANY favorite memories there, that’s a tough one. I would have to say last year, at this party on the edge of the playa where Ill.Gates and MiMOSA where playing. They were Dj-ing in this chromed out fire truck that extended out for the dj booth. Everyone there was dressed as crazy as possible. Post-Apocalyptic dance party. I chilled in this giant star wars-esque tent with these awesome Vancouver kids that I had just met. Vibing out to the music, sipping calimocho, while watching these dominatrix people do their thing. Total craziness, totally awesome.

I love your Burning Man memories. Music is so interlinked with memories to me, whether it’s of a place, a time, a person or feeling. Are you ever trying to record or evoke memories when you make music?

Music is the same way for me! It’s a very magical thing that seams to transcend time and space. Definitely. To me I am almost recording certain emotions or feelings. I really like sounds and melodies that are very melancholy yet very uplifting at the same time. Kind of like “This is REAL, it’s heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.”

What music makes you dance real hard and forget about any bullshit in your life?

My favorite music is always changing. Right now the shit that makes me really get into it has been Starkey Stars (and all the remixes) Caribou ‘Swim’, Martyn ‘Great Lengths’, and as we speak I’m revisiting LCD Soundsystem’s ’45:33’. I’ve also been taken away by the new Crystal Castles and the Rudi Zygadlo EP.

What’s the Denver music scene like? Rhinoceropolis sounds amazing – how did you get involved?

The Denver scene is booming right now. There are a lot of things happening outside of the Rhino scene but I think the Rhino scene is where it’s at. I feel like Pictureplane is kind of paving the way for the artists in Denver right now. He’s brilliant. I think he’s made electronic music a lot more accessible, once it was just for raver’s or club goers, but it’s really for everyone. I used to be roomies with Travis (Pictureplane) and when our lease was up he moved in there, so naturally I started hanging out there and got to know the people of Rhino. From there it inspired me to get involved and bring my own thing to the table.

What are your dreams with Hollagramz?

My dreams are to make a lot of music, music that really moves people, and also makes them stop and think. I REALLY want to travel and tour everywhere. My first tour might be happening at the end of the summer.

What else do you do apart from make music? Do you have a day job as well?

Outside of making music, I love the mountains and nature. During the summer I like to get up to get up there with friends and have mystical nature experiences. Riding bikes. Gardening and growing a lot of food in the summer, it’s my favorite time. I enjoy reading about aliens and far out there conspiracy theories. Ha. I brew my own beer and work at a local sandwich shop.

It’s getting sunny here, so lovely after such a long winter. Do you have long winters in Denver? There’s a theory that kind of the music that is made is very much influenced by the changing weather. I guess because it ties in with mood. What do you think?

The winters are pretty cold and long in Denver, I’m kind of sick of it. Haha. But its a good time to hibernate and work on art and music. I would totally agree with that theory. It’s funny, I’m working on a brand new EP right now that is very influenced by summer time. I’ve been really into trying to make some feel-good summer jams.

The HOLLAGRAMZ EP will be out later this year on Laserpalace. Plus check his myspace for details of upcoming split cassettes with other Denver artists.

HOLLAGRAMZ myspace