Credit: Skylar Steinberg
Known for his eclectic alt-electro songs and vibrant performance style, Robert DeLong has an unguarded way of commanding attention. He has been drawing in millions of streams and views across platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube since releasing his debut album in 2013, making it clear that fans are more than happy to give Robert their approval. After dropping a couple of EPs and a handful of singles over the past few years, including “Favorite Color Is Blue” with K. Flay, Robert has been building up the hype for a new LP since his sophomore album In the Cards in 2015. This new LP came in the form of Walk Like Me less than a couple of weeks ago, featuring 12 tracks that send Robert into different, but good, territory. Catching up with him during this thrilling time, we talked to Robert about how the album came together, his upcoming live shows, and more.
Melodic Mag: Hey there! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat; I’m sure you’re super busy promoting your latest release! How does it feel to be adding another album to your repertoire? Robert DeLong: It’s been a long time coming; I am so excited for the world to hear this record! I feel like it is the most eclectic grouping of songs I have put together, both musically and lyrically, and really spans the diverse genre touchstones I love.
How did this album come together? Was it in the works for a while, a quarantine project, a little of both…?
This album was a collection of seemingly disparate songs that I had written, mostly in the last two to three years, but tied together during quarantine. Having all of that concentrated alone time gave me the focus and perspective to see what sort of music I had been making, and gave me the time to experiment with different song combinations. It took a long time to realize what things went together, but once I did, it felt like these songs were a complete and connected body of work – as if they had always existed to complement each other.
I noticed the aesthetic for Walk Like Me involves neon colors, checkered patterns, and graphics, as we have seen in the videos for “Did it To Myself” and “Own Worst Enemy.” How does this bright vibe tie into the themes on the album?
I think there is a zany, wacky, high-energy vibe to all of the music, and I wanted that eclecticism to be reflected in the artwork as well. The art director Elyn Kazarian came with a concept that matched my vision and direction perfectly, and got the uniquely future/90s photographer Skylar to deliver some fun and wild shots. There is a latent 90s undercurrent to the music that I think is demonstrated perfectly in the visuals.
Which tracks are you most excited for people to hear?
I am excited for everyone to hear EVERY song on the record! There is a broad range of styles and vibes on the album, so I think there might be something for everyone – the gut-wrenching acoustic ballad “Rest Of My Life,” the manic pseudo-punk energy of “Chaos Chaos Chaos,” the sad boy goth club meets folk-country of “10 Years,” the out-to-lunch Talking Heads vibes of “There Goes The Generation”…these various genre references I think make it possible for each listener to relate to something.
Since releasing your debut album in 2013, has the way you approached and created albums changed?
My first album Just Movement, released in 2013, was a collection of songs that were written over about eight years, and there was no intention of creating an album until it became obvious that it was already there. In the Cards was written in just 12 months, mostly while I was one the road, and was a very different process. This album was more intentionally composed in some ways, but I gave myself plenty of time to experiment and let the album write itself.
You begin the first part of your Walk Like Me tour very soon on November 29th! What surprises do you have in store for fans coming out to the shows?
I am so excited to hit the road; I’ve got all sorts of surprises planned for the tour. New songs, new visuals, plenty of laser harp (an instrument that uses lasers as a controller – hard to describe, but fun and strange to behold). It’s been so long since I’ve played shows, I am just glad to be out connecting with fans again.
Fans know that you have a passion for blending art and technology, especially since you dropped your own cryptocurrency this year! What would be something that you would love to invent for the music industry, whether it is a new way of recording music, releasing music, etc?
Honestly, the first thing I’d like to invent for the music industry is a functional way to unionize songwriters so the various streaming platforms are forced to give reasonable rates for people listening to their music. I know so many artists and songwriters who have real fans, have worked on huge songs, but are still struggling to pay for groceries. It’s not a very sexy invention, but I think it would benefit everyone involved; it would encourage artists to be able to take more interesting risks without sacrificing their potential income, which would, in turn, give the audience a wider range of art to enjoy.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
Honestly, I am most looking forward to playing more shows, going to more shows, and writing more songs – i.e. getting back to real life.
Plans for the rest of the year?
I get off of tour just before the holidays, so I will visit my parents in Seattle for a few days, and then be back home preparing for the second leg of the tour!
Thanks again for your time. Do you have any final thoughts or comments?
I’m just so happy to have gotten this album out to the public, and I can’t wait to hear the response!