Fun Fun Fun Fest Interviews: Active Child

When I look at the Fun Fun Fun Fest lineup for the weekend, trend setting new band Active Child is one of my must sees of the festival.  We caught the live act a couple of years ago, serving as an introduction to the band, and the ATH crew has been fans ever since.  Lucky for you and I, the brains behind Active Child, Pat Grossi, made some time to answer a few of our questions.  Follow the jump for more.

ATH: We have always been very impressed with your engaging and intricate live show.  I specifically remember the Mohawk show last year being outta site.  Do you think a venue with the smoke machine and lights going is more your thing?  As in, do you feel like you fit in better in that setting?

Pat: I think every venue calls for a different performance. Sometimes you can spend months preparing for a tour, organizing visuals etc and then you get to the club and the setup just doesn’t work. Smaller clubs call for more interaction, more intimacy, and larger ones seem to lean towards more mystery, more smoke, and lights. I try to play it night by night, but in general I think the show is strongest when we can combine the smoke and lights while still making the audience feel like they are connected and not just a spectator.

ATH: You play a fairly early set at the festival this year.  Do you find it more difficult to get the crowd engaged so early in the bright sun?  Do you and your band change anything to try and get the hungover crowd going?

Pat: Playing early at a festival is always a tough one. And the music we play doesn’t exactly lend itself to a bright sunny day, but we’ve had some really great experience during those slots as well. We played Sasquatch a few years back mid day and had a blast, so you never know. In a perfect world we would as the sun set and the moon rose.

ATH: I’ve always been curious how your sound developed into what it is today.  Obviously your voice was trained in the vocal choir, but how did that develop into this unique synth/pop/layered vocal sound?  It’s incredible btw.

Pat: Thanks! When I first started recording little snippets years ago I found myself diving into two worlds. One seemed focused on my voice, acoustic instruments, and field recordings, while the other leaned towards synths and programmed drums. One day those two pieces came together and I wrote a song called ‘Wilderness’. I can remember sitting at home in Denver and listening back to it, and just really enjoying having a finished song. After that I wrote a song a day for two weeks, and not long after released my first EP, Curtis Lane.

ATH: On that same note.  I just used some words to describe your sound.  How would you describe it to the unfamiliar?  And crazy adjectives you can think of?

Pat: New age meets new wave seems to fit most of the songs. The new EP has been described at ‘gospel pop’ which I think is a fitting description. But I struggle with this question, I’m always trying to surprise myself when I’m writing and recording, so the songs feel distinct to me and blur the lines between multiple genres.

ATH: It’s been well documented that you grew up listening to rap as a kid so we won’t even ask any questions about that (people can google).  Rather, what would be your rap artist alter ego name?  May I suggest “el niño activo”.

Pat: Haha, I like it, I think I would go for something more traditional like ‘Lil’ Saint James’ continue with my spiritual yet secular vibe.

ATH: Similar question.  Fun Fest is well known for bringing in a plethora of hip hop/rap artists.  Do you still follow the genre?  Had a chance to peruse the festival lineup?  Anyone your maybe excited about seeing?

Pat: Yeah, I still keep up with it, and I’m definitely gonna do my best to see some acts while im there. Hoping to see Ice-T, Big K.R.I.T., and Mikky Blanco.

ATH: Okay so I remember at your Mohawk show last year that you asked for requests and I was screaming out “Diamond Heart”.  I think you acknowledged me and shook your head no… Any chance we’ll ever hear that song live?  Can I get a dedication at the festival?  Please?

Pat: Was that you?! We’ve played that song a bunch live, but certain nights call for certain songs I think, and sometimes we just aren’t prepared to play certain things live. But, sadly there will be no Diamond Heart at the fest this year, mostly new stuff and my favorites from the past. Sorry!

ATH: Lastly, you’ve come into Austin before.  Do you have anything you look forward to doing when you’re in our crazy little town?

Pat: Austin has so many great little spots, but one place I always try to make time for is a small synth shop called ‘Switched On’. They have an insane collection of synths and I usually walk away with something new for the home collection. Actually heading there before the fest to get some minor repairs done on my juno-60.

Thanks again Pat for the time!

You can catch Active Child on Friday at 1:25pm over on the Orange Stage.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Active-Child-Playing-House-ft.-How-To-Dress-Well.mp3]

Download: Active Child – Playing House (ft. How To Dress Well) [MP3]

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