By Evan O’Brien and Malcolm Doak
In the scant year since their debut EP Chunk of Change was released, Passion Pit has quickly risen from local favorites in their native Cambridge, Massachusetts, to international acclaim. Their first full-length release, Manners, was released in May of 2009. Currently wrapping up a U.S. leg of their tour, Passion Pit members Ayad Al Adhamy and Ian Hultquist spared a few minutes to talk to us about their music.
KORG: Passion Pit is a young band. Did both of you begin playing at an early age?
Ian: I started learning the guitar in 7th or 8th grade. I had played alto sax in the school band as a kid, but I wanted to be able to play songs I heard on the radio. I started dabbling on piano and keyboards in college, but it wasn't until starting passion pit that I began seriously playing synths.
Ayad: I began playing guitar at 13 and during high school I began my interest in music technology. I then studied Film Scoring and Music synthesis at Berklee College of Music, and I only recently graduated.
KORG: Manners has been getting some great attention...any memorable stories from putting it together?
Ian: I remember the feeling of putting it together. It was an intense 10 weeks of rushing back and forth between Boston & New York almost every week. Mike and Nate were in the studio for the entirety of the recording; the rest of us kind of came and went throughout the recording process.
Ayad: I was still finishing college!
KORG: How would you describe the creative process involved in making music with Passion Pit?
Ayad: Most of it was recorded in small phrases with a lot of layering and looping. Then stuff was cut about for arranging, and then parts where sculpted down to finish the songs. Usually the songs were nearly complete before the vocals were tracked.
Ian: Mike would have a groove or melody in his head and just go from there. It was like making music using building blocks.
KORG: How did Korg come into play while recording the album?
Ayad: A vintage [KORG] MS-20 was used a lot for lead lines, noises, and processing through its excellent filters.
Ian: I think some of the noises you hear at the end of "Folds in Your Hands" are a guitar being mangled by the MS-20.
KORG: You guys have been touring pretty extensively; U.S., Europe...how has the road been treating you?
Ayad: Pretty well! It is amazing but tiring. We get to visit a lot of cities and meet lots of great people, so it's impossible to complain.
KORG: I understand you’ve got microKORG XLs out on the road with you. What made you choose them?
Ian: The sound palette really expanded with Manners. Before, we never had a real need to use anything other than the synths we already had.
Ayad: I didn't really know much about the microKORG XL before using it, but I think I bought it after maybe 10 minutes of playing with it. It sounds and feels amazing, and the price was amazing.
KORG: Any other Korg gear in your stable?
Ayad: I used to use the Poly800 live, and I also own a Polysix and an EX-800.
Ian: We've had CX-3s make appearances from time to time. My dream is to have a vintage (‘80s) CX-3 running through a Leslie...one day.
Thanks, Ian; thanks Ayad, and great luck with the rest of the tour!
To find out more about Passion Pit, visit www.passionpitmusic.com!