The improv artists, Jason Hann and Michael Travis, played a full house at The Canopy Club on November 30th. EOTO moved the crowd through various musical genres, from glitch-hop to organic dubstep to tribal beats, and ended their performance with a crowd ovation. During the final moments of the show, the fans clapped simultaneously, looking as if they were part of the lotus flower set. As EOTO magically transitioned to a slower beat, the audience waved their lighters in unison. From start to finish, the artists had the crowd mesmerized to the rhythms and unique, colorful set.

After their successful show at Canopy, Hann surprised his guests with an after party at a discreet location that lasted until 5:30 in the morning. Travis also arrived and interacted with his fans, taking pictures and telling stories. The laid-back artists left everyone in disbelief and with great appreciation as the night slowly came to an end. EOTO will always be welcome back to Champaign-Urbana with open arms and eager ears.

UPC: What are your favorite shows or cities to play at?

Jason Hann: It’s such a mix because every city has its own character. There are some cities where there are friends or a crew that we know from seeing them there a bunch. I think some of the events we like to play at are Shambhala from British Columbia. It’s not like there are just some good acts, a good hang, and a great vibe, but I come away really inspired, like I heard the freshest music. Which is different than other festivals where I have seen all their acts and kind of seen them do their thing. Shambhala, year after year, impresses us like that. We also love doing Wakarusa Festival. That was one of the first festivals we played since we’ve been a group, and we’ve played it every year. So that feels like home. But I like Chicago, Key-West, even recently, Los Angeles has fit that mode, and Colorado without a doubt. It’s kinda crazy.

UPC: What’s the most monumental show that you’ve played?

Jason Hann: A few shows that really stand out from this year are Electric Forest, Shambhala, and Red Rocks. The first time EOTO played at Red Rocks was this year. It was super special. Also playing at Shambhala on the Village stage. It was the first time they had any bands play on the Village stage and that stage is pretty legendary. I’ve had many moments seeing other producers there. It may just be the best sound system on the planet. When you go there and hear a set, it already sounds like some of the best music just because of the way the sound system represents it. But then, people bring in their freshest stuff so it’s mind blowing and inspiring.

UPC: Are there certain vibes that cities bring out, and how do you know what to start the crowd with?

Jason Hann: Thats the thing… We kinda don’t know until we get there and see how hungry the crowd is and where that’s at. Sometimes it depends on who played before us. We did a show with Downlink just last week and he was playing some gnarly stuff. We were kinda on the fence about if we should start off gnarly or start out more glitch-hop or do something totally different. But…I don’t remember what we went with. (Laughing)

UPC: Do you know what you are planning on starting the crowd with tonight?

Jason Hann: I have no idea but usually Canopy Club is ready to dive all the way in from the start. We’ll see how it opens up.

UPC: Are there any specific genres or set lists that continually come out, in certain cities for instance?

Jason Hann: Yeah. I think that throughout the course of the tour we’ll take on our own format for how the night goes. We’ll cover all the different genres. We’ll do glitch-hop, dubstep, electro, some drum step, now we do some trap and we’ll do some funky 70’s groovy type stuff as well as some house music; progressive or minimal. We know we want to go through all those genres within the course of the evening. But then again, that’s when it depends on what the crowd is giving us at the time and how long we’ll hang out there before we transition.

UPC: Knowing that DJ Skream influenced your dubstep, how do you feel about mainstream dubstep now like Skrillex? Do you like it?

Jason Hann: When it all came out, when Skrillex first hit, it was definitely a game changer. He gets such a wide range of people who either like him or hate him. In ways, some people feel that he ruined stuff. But you can almost talk to any producer and discuss that he is a game changer for melodic stuff, his drum programing, and his sounds that he came up with… no one had heard that stuff before. Now, his stuff somewhat seems more formulaic, you can hear some similar sounds that he’s used in the past. But I do think he switched things up.

UPC: What do you think of dubstep straying away from the melodic tunes of UK underground?

Jason Hann: I think it started getting into how much you can out gnarly the other sounds or songs that are out. I still feel that is some really good stuff out there like Skeptiks Cohen Sound, Blunt Instrument and Jobot. I like their stuff but I guess they are more glitch-hop groups. There is definitely some other really good dubstep acts that do things pretty fresh, you just have to look around for it more.

UPC: You’ve been playing professionally since you were 12. How was that growing up? As a child, was your heart always set on music? Did you think you would become as big as you are now?

Jason Hann: I never really thought I was going to be a musician. My dad’s a musician and it just lucked out that he ended up getting a gig close to where we lived. He played early enough where I could come home from school and take my homework over there and do my work while I listened to his band. At that point, I think I absorbed music really fast. I took piano lessons and sang when I was a kid, never thinking about doing it as a career. It was just some fun summer stuff to do. I absorbed the drums really quick when I started seeing his band. From 13 on, when everyone else might have gotten side jobs at the movie theater or something like that, I was been playing at bars.

UPC: Your parents supported you?

Jason Hann: For the most part. I was almost always with my dad’s band. He was the one that was hiring me. Once in a while, I’d play with someone else at the bars. I was in Miami and outside, so it was a little cooler and not so “What’s that kid doing in the bar!” It was kinda weird growing up in Miami and seeing a lot of grownup stuff as a kid.

UPC: What would you tell those of whose parents discourage them going to shows and listening to dubstep or such music?

Jason Hann: That sounds like the history of rock and roll to me! From my perspective, it is to just be safe. It’s really weird to go to some shows and see 14 and 15 year olds at an all ages show and think “Oh my god, how are they able to handle themselves and how do their parents let them do that?!” But if you’re going to go to a show like that, there’s going to be all sorts of crazy stuff you could get into. If you just try and keep it safe and look out for each other, then you’ll have an amazing and fun time. You definitely see a lot of kids getting hurt or hurting themselves. That’s the only downside. When it gets to that point, it’s because either some people don’t know, or some people like to be hurtful to others. The funniest part is if you go to a football game, there is just as many drugs and drinking as if you were at a show.

UPC: What influenced you to combine organic instruments and technology at a live show? Was it difficult at first when you two started collaborating?

Jason Hann: We both have played instruments for a long time and love playing them. But, we also love electronic dance music and we love to improvise. Travis was in a group called Zilla before that was all improvised.

One of my favorite groups from the UK was called The Bays. I don’t know if they are playing together anymore but they are so legit on the EDM scene. From my perspective, when they would appear at festivals in the UK, they would usually headline their own stage because they were such a special thing. Everyone else was DJ’s. They were really respected because they could bring this DJ produced music to life and make it up on the spot. I always thought “Wow, that’s great that there are some musicians that are really holding it down!” They would even do things with the London Symphony. That was really influential.

When we started incorporating technology into it, it was difficult. We were happy if we were just able to combine. Lets say we were jamming on one peice of music and now wanted to make a transition to another piece of music, we are like “How the hell to we do that?!” The first time we did that, we were like “OH MY GOD!” and high-fiving each other, “We did it! We did it! We did it!” Eeach time we would get some new effect, you could hear that new effect just all the time. That was all we could handle. And now, after almost 800 shows, it’s just insane where we’ve come from and where we can take it to. Until you really see our set up, it’s really hard to tell how complicated it is. I always find myself with someone who is curious about the setup, and explain it to them. I enjoy just seeing their faces go blank and say “What the hell are you guys doing?!

UPC: How long does it usually take you to set up?

Jason Hann: It doesn’t take us that long at all. I think we clock in a little under an hour between when we start setting up and sound check. We have a ton of wires on stage but a lot of them are pre-connected. It does look like a mini music store up there but it does set up pretty fast.

UPC: When you and Travis first started, did you practice at home or did you pracitce at concerts, just doing improvisations?

Jason Hann: At Travis’ we didn’t practice with the sense of we’re doing a live show; we just jammed because we were having fun and weren’t trying to put a group or project together. When we started scheduling shows, we were doing so many shows and realized that’s the only way you could practice; by improvising and making stuff on the spot because so much of it is how the crowd reacts. If all of a sudden you’re playing but nobodies dancing, then you’re doing something wrong. You need to press the eject button and move onto the next thing.

UPC: Do you ever watch your past shows to see how you did?

Jason Hann: We used to, but we haven’t done that in a while. Each of us listens on our own. There are some things that we like and things we don’t like. It’s more like self critiquing and seeing what we can do better. We do need to have some big listening sessions because we haven’t done it in a while.

UPC: Your music evolves so frequently and you continue to produce a futuristic sound; is there a certain theme that you keep within your music?

Jason Hann: That used come up more regular. If we would hit this middle eastern sounding moment, it was something that it would take a little bit to progress to where it can sound really different every night, as opposed to when we would hit that moment and it would sound really similar with the same sounds coming up, same kind of beat behind it. That’s one of the things where when we realize it after a while, we’re like “Oh wow, we’ve done THAT kind of thing the same way.” That’s when we gotta kick ourselves into another gear and purposefully pick another time to do it and pick another beat or tempo to do it with.

UPC: Do ever use samples from outside sources than your own?

Jason Hann: Nope. Everything you hear on stage is in the moment. A lot of people thought for a while that we were getting acapellas and putting them on our stuff. It’s all us. That’s the fun and challenging part. It’s a little bit hard to say that because I really can’t think of any other group that does that. Every sound you hear is being made up right there on the spot. Usually everyones got some kind of songs or backing tracks. It’s just been a trickier thing for us to be like “No! We’re really doing it!” And it’s not like it’s a couple of people playing over a lot of backing tracks. We are playing everything that you hear.

UPC: How do you manage traveling 200 shows a year? Do you guys ever have a break or vacation?

Jason Hann: Not lately. Now, it’s gotten better. This is the first tour we’ve done where we’ll do shows mostly on the weekends and we’ll fly home during the week. I’ll have three days at home and the rest of the days on the road. That’s been really nice having some semblance of a home life. At the end of tomorrow, we both fly to Colorado and we both play in String Cheese Incident. We start practice with that band out there. So Travis is home, but I’m still on the road because I live out in California. Even though we are stopping and doing EOTO shows, we still have other projects and still on the road. You try and sort that out of your mind and think “Okay, I’ll be able to be in a state of mind of being at home half a month from now.

UPC: Do you have any family or friends that you look forward to seeing when you visit home?

Jason Hann: It’s so good to get home. Me and my wife have a home out there with no kids. It is really good to have that part of life be so different than the road, but it can get tricky since you spend a ton of time on the road. When you go home, it’s like catch up time and settling and checking in with each other. I always love when I can aim towards knowing I am going home.

UPC: Are you going to be home for Christmas?

Jason Hann: I will be home for Christmas! I think I get home December 18th. I’m looking forward to be home for the holidays.

UPC: No way, that’s when I’ll be heading home too! So this is my last question… Where did you and Travis meet and what inspired you to both collaborate with each other?

Jason Hann: We met in ’95…How old were you then? (Laughing)

UPC: Probably around 7 years old!

Jason Hann: (Still laughing) So we met back then and he was with String Cheese at the time. I was with my band, which was like a rock band and we were signed to a record label. Both our bands were playing at a festival and we really connected. We actually ended up playing hand drums by over where they were camping out, all day long. Then we kept in touch, about two phone calls a year, for all these years and we stopped for a couple years. He called me out of the blue in 2004 and asked if I wanted to sit in with the band because they were going through Los Angeles. I was like “Sure, what should I bring down?” and Travis was like “Bring everything because we might want a new person to join the band.” It just kind of worked out. When I started flying out to Colorado for rehearsals, I’d stay at Travis’ house a bunch. That’s when we started setting up instruments just to have fun and we’d end up playing all night.

 With Jason Hann, as he gets ready to take the stage!