Bob Moses is an electronic duo originally from Vancouver, but it wasn’t until they relocated to Brooklyn that they started turning heads and moving feet on the dance floor.
Jimmy Vallance and Tom Howie were back home in New York when we rang them up to chat about the different pockets of the Vancouver music scene. “Well, we both started in our younger years making rock, punk, and stuff like that,” says Howie. “As we got a bit older, we got sick of having bands, so I went to do more acoustic guitar stuff. And then Jimmy started DJing trance stuff.”
After high school, the pair moved separately to New York, unbeknown to each other. Soon after, Vallance went to Berlin with the aims of furthering his electronic music career. Once there, he began working with producer Matthew Dekay. “I spent a couple months [in Berlin], and we were making tons of records, and just trying to find cool songs and make headway over there,” says Vallance.
In New York, Vallance and Howie encountered each other by chance in a parking lot one day on the way to the train. By this point, Howie was already an accomplished recording artist, having released a solo EP mixed by Sarah McLachlan’s drummer Ashwin Sood in 2010.
This experience, combined with the knowledge Vallance gained through working with Dekay, gave the pair a solid foundation for launching a new project. “It helped me to push myself as a producer, and engineering and making really good sounds, so then when Tom and I started to link up I had kind of been to [the] university of how to make beats, and how to do all that sort of stuff,” says Vallance.
Their combined mastery of both electronic production and live instrumentation gives them a dynamic that sets them apart from other current electronic acts and serves to fuel the off-kilter sounds heard in their records. “We always try to make certain things that would typically be electronic with a sort of live start, like maybe recording something, and then messing it up in the computer to make it sound very electronic,” says Howie. “We try to like switch it up a bit, and keep things interesting, and combine [sounds] in ways that keep people guessing when they’re listening.”
For this duo, achieving this effect means continuing down a path of experimentation inspired by artists like James Blake, Nicholas Jaar, and Radiohead. “There’s one [track] where I’m playing drums on the floor, on a mic stand, and we just put some effects through that and put that on the record,” says Vallance. “If we don’t know how to get things we hear in our head, we’ll try a bunch of stuff until we get there.”
These attributes, along with lyrics that speak on their own experiences with relationships, careers, and life, ultimately allowed Bob Moses to carve away from being grouped with other contemporary electronic duos.
“We don’t think of ourselves as deep house or anything like that,” says Howie. “We like making deep music.”
*This article was originally published in Oct. 2015.