The Glitch Mob’s Justin Boreta on Mirrogram and merging music and apps

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Justin Boreta is a music producer and a founding member of The Glitch Mob, a Los Angeles-based electronic group. But when he isn’t helping to create tracks like "Derezzed (The Glitch Mob Remix)" and "Drive It Like You Stole It," he moonlights as an app developer, dreaming up new ways to compliment music with technology. His first effort, Mirrorgram, debuted on iTunes in early October, enabling users to capture mirrored images with Instagram-like filters. You can find him on Twitter at @Boreta.

Where are you?

Silverlake, Los Angeles.

What are you listening to currently?

Four Tet's new record.

What device / gadget would you die without?

iPhone 5 (is that too obvious?).

What headphones/earphones do you use?

Ultrasone Pro 750.

What's the best movie you've seen in theaters recently?

Samsara.

What's the funniest thing you've seen online lately?

Mike Relm's Honey Boo Boo vs. Gangnam Style video mashup.

Obviously, The Glitch Mob has seen incredible success over the last few years, and your solo work is well known, what was the motivation for developing your own original photography app? Do you feel that the realms of music — or specifically electronic music — and technology are merging?

While on long international tours around the world you find ways to pass the time, and iPhone photography became something that we did a lot of. Especially after Instagram took hold. Beyond that, I have always been fascinated with symmetry and how it can take almost anything and turn it into a cool piece of art. I'm not a Photoshop master so I was repurposing other photo apps because there wasn't really a great way to make mirrored images. We were all posting a lot of these photos and people kept asking how we make them so at some point I just decided to make my own.

"Downloading an app and downloading a song are exactly the same process."

I was curious to see how our fans would react to having a band like us create an app. The reception has been surprisingly warm — I can't help but think that it's because downloading an app and downloading a song are exactly the same process.

Mirrorgram is really a creative tool so it's definitely part of the larger Glitch Mob vision. A few years ago, one of my favorite bands was selling a coloring book with their album art in it. I freaking loved it. Mirrorgram is the 2012 version of this, but it extends further because you don't have to know or care about our music to have fun with it. If you do, there's some added layers there.

Electronic musicians, by nature of what they do, have a close relationship with technology. As the tools get easier and cheaper, I think you're going to see a lot more stuff like this emerge. I'm personally very excited to see the lines between music, technology and art become blurry.

Speaking of the intersection of music, technology, and art, how were you involved with the production of Mirrorgram? Did you delve into coding or were you primarily responsible for creative direction?

I couldn't code my way out of a box! I teamed up with a friend of mine named Tom Giles who has a company named StageBloc. StageBloc makes apps among other things. My role is really firmly on the creative side of things.

What features were missing in other apps that you thought were essential for Mirrorgram? What do you think sets it apart?

Mirrorgram is the only app out there that has the live camera mirroring which is really my favorite part. There's something a lot of fun about turning that on and messing around. You can get some really crazy results that you simply can't get from loading a photo from your library.

"Beyond that, we just wanted to make something slick and simple."

Beyond that, we just wanted to make something slick and simple. We had some really awesome designers work on this to make it feel sexy — design is really important to me. Joyce Su who does a lot of work for Glitch Mob designed the logo as well as the overall look, so it feels like an extension of our music.

Aside from Mirrorgram, what apps do you use the most? Are you primarily an iOS user or Android? Which device?

I'm all iPhone 5 all the way — dyed in the wool Apple user.

I love all things photo related — Instagram, Snapseed, VSCO Cam, Camera+, TrueHDR. Aside from that I use Dropbox, Spotify, Sonos, and Shazam on a daily basis. Evernote for ideas, Uber and Tripit for travel.

A lot of artists have begun to experiment with smartphone and tablet music production apps in the studio, have you (or the Glitch Mob) tried using them while recording? If so, which?

Apps can be a lot of fun in the studio, especially for sketching and getting ideas down. We use the Lemur app as a controller — you can get some really crazy results with it. We've used the Animoog a bunch, their apps are really top notch. Beatmaker and Nanostudio are fun for getting creative and traveling. Pro Chords is something we use for testing out chord progressions.

When you're on the road or at home and just want to experiment, do you find yourself using apps or more traditional production software? If so, which?

If I just want to doodle I'll use Animoog or Konkreet Performer because they are such unique, hands-on ways to manipulate sound. iOS apps are great for that. When I really want to start sketching the basis for a new track though, I use Ableton Live. Everything in Ableton is so modular it's easy to save ideas for later and use them in new places. Glitch Mob keeps everything shared on Dropbox so sometimes if we hit a wall we'll dig through the sketch archives.

"[Apps] are such unique, hands-on ways to manipulate sound."

Well, now that you're in the app making business, would you consider making a music creation app for iOS of your own? The Glitch Mob: The App, perhaps?

Oh yeah, for sure. We've been brainstorming on ideas for apps to involve people in the live music experience for a while now. After making Mirrorgram, I have a lot of ideas on where things could go.

I'd ask for an example, but I'm guessing you'd rather not give away the farm. Are these app experiences we may come to see integrated into your live shows in the near-future or just concepts currently?

We're always looking for cool new ways to extend the creative and interactive experience for everyone. There's some cool stuff cooking, but I can't get into details just yet.

When can we expect the new album, and by extension, a new tour?

The new album will be done in the next month or two, so keep an eye out for tour dates starting in 2013!

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