In the ever-expanding universe of electronic music, local Berkeley band And Drop! finds itself at the forefront of the genre’s rise. With its infinite subgenres, electronic music has flourished in the age of high-powered personal computers and social media. Though primarily characterized as electro-house and dubstep, the group’s approach to music-making is one that has allowed them to evolve just as quickly as the genre itself. When asked to narrow down their style, band member Harris Kauffman brought the band’s singular methods to light: “The scene is changing so often, we try to infuse as many different genres as possible and make it our own…it’s party music essentially.”
The band’s name references a major characteristic of the electronic genre. “In electronic music there’s tension and release,” lead performer Joe Wiseman explained. “It creates this sort of hype in energy, then it just drops into the beat…it’s the point in the song where everyone goes wild hopefully.” The band consists of Wiseman, Kauffman and the latter’s younger brother, Sylvain. Joe, a media studies major at Berkeley deejays many of their live shows as a one-man act. Harris, an English major, has dedicated himself to producing the band’s original mixes. Sylvain is a senior in high school who’s referred to as a “little musical genius” by his bandmates, who credit him with constructing the technically elaborate foundations for a lot of their songs.
And Drop!’s music-making process is as collaborative as it is individual. “We could credit some of the songs more to one person, but it’s always a team effort,” explained Wiseman. “Someone usually lays down the skeleton then we all just collaborate on it.” Their systematic approach has proved fruitful. The band admits to having over 30 tracks in hideaway. “Maybe one day we’ll put out ‘the lost files,’” joked Wiseman.
As students of the craft, the bandconstantly searches for groundbreaking techniques. Kauffman explained how creativity is often an outcome of listening to other artists’ attempts to push the boundaries of the genre: “It’s always the little things that spark an idea, like when you’re sitting at night with your headphones and find little nuances in songs, like a percussion hit on the upbeat right before the drop.”
A large part of the band’s love for electronic music comes from the excitement of knowing that different styles are being created everyday. Harris clarifies the band’s desire to absorb the riches of the genre: “My mom says it’s an obsession, if I wasn’t making it I’d be listening to it all day everyday, in between passing periods or whatever. I wake up, get out of bed, hit space bar on iTunes. It’s an addiction.”
Electronic music culture has resonated with computer-friendly fans around the world. The members of And Drop! credit much of its success and popularity to file-sharing and the far-reaching effects of the blogosphere. “I think electronic music did something completely amazing in the way it embraced free downloading,” Harris said. “It’s not illegal downloading anymore, it’s just handing it out for free.” For Harris, the genre’s extensiveness seems almost immeasurable. “It’s so vast compared to any other genre of music, the blogosphere is definitely the venue where kids from around the world are coming and trying to gain the knowledge on what’s the next big thing.”
Many successful electronic artists have banished the concept that all music must be sold, and And Drop! is no exception. “No one buys electronic music off of iTunes, except maybe the Deadmau5 album or other exceptions,” said Wiseman. “But you’re not going to go buy the Munchi’s mumbacore edit remix of Dillon Francis’ edit of the remix, you know what I mean, they just put it up on blogs and then you’ll hear it at a club.” The file sharing revolution has imparted new significance on the live performance, which is where many electronic DJs and bands are starting to earn most of their revenue.
Harris elaborated on And Drop!’s presence around Berkeley. “We have friends at colleges all over the country and I think Berkeley has been ahead of the game in everything that’s cool, they were definitely quick to pick up on the electronic scene.” Their most recent performance took place in Cape Town, South Africa during a study-abroad session. Wiseman managed to utilize their Facebook profile as a means to get in touch with local club promoters where he managed to perform among acts like Haezer, a prominent DJ in South Africa. After making the rounds in renowned clubs like The Assembly and Fiction, a common stop for major bands, And Drop! managed to make a splash in the local South African club scene, where they were featured in various blogs and local radio stations.
And Drop! is currently working on putting out new material, saving major shows and promotions until then. Their current project includes exploring the depths of Moombahton, a relatively new style that mixes reggaeton and Dutch house elements into a different brew of dance music, a testament to their evolving nature. In true electronic fashion, the band looks to tackle their new endeavor with signature flare, looking to bring to Berkeley their biggest drop yet.