The Human Experience: 2014 Grove Stage Headliner

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The Human Experience, real name David Block, is a live electronic composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer from Oakland, California. He has brought his transcendental, introspective brand of bass music to our Labyrinth Stage in the past, and this year he is a headliner on our new stage, The Grove. His new release is a collaboration with the highly visceral and multi-faceted live performance group Quixotic, hailing from Kansas City. David’s graciously agreed to sit down with me and answer a few questions about his past, his upcoming plans, and his experiences at Shambhala.

“The collaboration between Quixotic and The Human Experience expands beyond the sonic experience and into the mixed media world. Quixotic blends world class performance, using cutting edge visual projections with aerial, dance, fire ballet and original music to convey mysterious and beautiful worlds. Quixotic’s own live band has collaborated with Block’s cinematic compositions to create a synesthetic explosion on the senses.” 

(SMF) – You’ve alluded to your musical background before, so I take it you have a degree of classical training – can you tell us how you were initially introduced to music, what it is you studied, and how it is that electronic music production came to be your focus? 

(David) – I had a very musical upbringing. I started playing piano when I was six and quit when I was 12.  I picked up guitar and taught myself at 16 and re-introduced piano into my life at 18. I have always been an unconventional learner and my first piano teacher was REALLY traditional (which was not fun). I remember always going off on tangents and augmenting my classical pieces and trying to change them (piano teacher did not like that). At 21, I moved out of the USA for 2 1/2 years to travel around the world and find my voice.  It was just me and my guitar, singing on the streets around India and Central America.  I had messed around with multi-track recording from 19-21 before I left for my travels.  When I got back, after seeing the world, I dove into electronic music, attempting to synthesize many of the world musics I had discovered on my journey.

(SMF) – This is not your first performance at Shambhala, was last year your first time attending our festival? What did you enjoy most about it, and what unique aspects set Shambhala apart from other music festivals around North America and the world?

(David) – Last year was my first Shambhala experience. It was INCREDIBLE. One of my favorite parts about Shams is that every year, the festival is built upon instead of tearing down the stages and starting over. This gives Shambhala the ability to have extremely impressive stages/areas. Also, I love how each stage is curated by a different group. This creates a HUGE diversity of music assuring something for everyone! 

(SMF) – Your forthcoming release is a collaboration with multifaceted performance group Quixotic – how did this partnership come about and what is the working dynamic involved? Do you have plans to tour behind this project?

(David) – I’ve been involved in performance art since the beginning of my EDM career.  I started touring the world with an artist named Android Jones and his partner Phaedra. We did an Audio/Visual/Dance project called “Phadroid.” After touring with them for a couple years, I started to meet other performance groups who enjoyed some of my more cinematic/performance oriented music. I met the director of Quixotic (Anthony Magliano) a couple years ago and we clicked immediately. I met Shane Borth (Violin/Viola for Quixotic) and the three of us started writing music together (me as producer, Shane on strings, and Anthony with percussion/hand drum/director. The result is super juicy, which you can hear as of this week!

quixotic (adj) kwik-ˈsä-tik : hopeful or romantic in a way that is not practical

(SMF) – At a quick glance I can see that your summer schedule is pretty packed, what else have you got coming up, release-wise? Any particularly exciting performances on your radar?

(David) – Ooohhhhh its going to be a BUSY year!!! I’m a huge collaborator so I have multiple projects coming to fruition in the next 7 months. Expect 3 more collaboration EPs and a full-length album (on a REALLY great new record label) by the end of the year. Somehow, I’m planning on finishing all these releases between the 16 festivals this summer – haha..  I’m really excited about a lot this year. I’d say a highlight was playing New Orleans Jazz fest last week (meeting some of the top musicians in the world/playing with legends/learning from my musical elders, SUCH a pleasure).

(SMF) – Thanks for talking with us David, we’re looking forward to your set on The Grove this August – have a safe and fulfilling summer in the meantime!

Thanks for talking to me!  If you enjoy my music, ALL of it is available for donation/free [here] on my website!  See you at Shams!


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