Robert DeLong wants you to stop looking at your feet and dance

Robert DeLong performs at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday, Sept. 12.
Robert DeLong will perform at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sept. 12.

The beads of sweat were still fresh on his face as Robert DeLong strolled into the media tent at Made In America on Sunday. The 26-year-old was clutching a Bud Light, desperately trying to recharge his batteries 45 minutes after sending the crowd of tweeners into a trance-like frenzy with his pulsing dance beats and robotic hooks.

DeLong is one of the freshest faces in music, an artist who combines percussion and technology to perfection. He’s one part Calvin Harris, two parts Bill Gates.

“I came from a lot of different places,” DeLong says. “I grew up as a drummer in folk and indie bands, and that’s kind of where I started writing music; but I was always into electronic sounds and kind of a computer nerd, so it was kind of natural for me to get into producing — and then my girlfriend really got me into dance music, and that’s where everything kind of fused together.”

What DeLong is doing is changing perceptions, with his unique take on electronic music. He uses lyrics like “function could be the only truth ‘cause it’s just movement,” while incorporating Wii remotes and joysticks into his act. The computer devices aren’t just props, either: He actually uses them to control verses and volumes.

“The Wii remote controls the delay in my vocals. I can catch like a word or phrase and repeat it with a button,” he says. “If I shake it, it speeds it up, or the game pad is controlling samples; each button is a different note.”

Funny thing is, DeLong doesn’t even play video games.

“I’m not really a huge gamer. Really, it’s just I’m a nerd. I spend a lot of time alone in my room,” he says, laughing.

DeLong played a nearly hourlong set Sunday at Made In America. During that time, he sang, played the drums and controlled the beats — all in one seamless swoop. He has remixed everything from Radiohead to Selena Gomez.

Ask DeLong to describe his sound and he laughs, “Ask someday else, I’m terrible at describing it.”

It all started when his father taught him to play the guitar and piano when he was growing up outside Seattle. DeLong bounced around in a few indie bands and then decided it was time to branch off.

“People are always staring at their shoes when they’re watching an indie band, which is cool because it’s emotive music and you’re supposed to be thinking about it or something,” he says, “but I got tired of that and I wanted to do something visceral, something people could connect with in that way. The primary way we have always dealt with music, as humans, is by dancing and I wanted to capture that somehow, and hopefully it worked.”

Judging by the scene Sunday, it’s working. DeLong has been booked solid working festivals, including Coachella, all summer. He released his first full-length album, “Just Movement,” this past February. In the fall, he’ll hit the road again to headline his own tour. First and foremost on his agenda is accommodating fans. DeLong held a special meet-and-greet for about 200 people after his set at Made In America.

“To me, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the fans and the people so you can’t be a f—ing douchebag,” DeLong said. “They’re the people putting it out there for you, so if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to play shows. As long as you don’t worry about money too much, you’ll be fine.”

The truth behind the X

DeLong is famous for his trademark orange X logo. It adorns the T-shirt he wears and is also painted on his face during shows. Apparently, there is no hidden mystery behind it, it’s just good branding.

“Oh yeah, it’s a huge secret,” DeLong chuckled. “Truth is, I’ve tried to invent stories and they’re never funny, so the real truth is my girlfriend drew this on my headphones one time and then my friend is a graphic designer, so he kind of formalized it into what it is. It kind of became associated with what I do, so there it is.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Philly man charged with lying about PennDOT overtime…

The office of Attorney General Kathleen Kane is charging a Philly man with perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury investigating overtime abuses at PennDOT.

International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

Philadelphia principal has President Obama's ear

The West Philadelphia head is gathering ideas to present to the White House.

The Word

Is Avril Lavigne's new music video racist?

Some fans say Avril Lavigne's new music video is offensive to Japanese people.

Television

Jodie Foster married girlfriend Alexandra Hedison this weekend

No need to rely on cryptic Golden Globe speeches for your movie star sexual orientation questions anymore: Jodie Foster is married to a lady. Foster…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Movies

Interview: Rza mourns his 'Brick Mansions' co-star Paul…

"Brick Mansions" star Rza talks about how fun Paul Walker was, how America is slow to accept cool trends and on the new Wu-Tang album as a piece of art.

NHL

Four things the Flyers must do to win…

It's do or die for the Flyers. Well, almost.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Eagles will spend Thanksgiving in Dallas, play four…

The Eagles have an impressive, challenging and exciting schedule in 2014.

NFL

NFL releases Eagles 2014 schedule

The Eagles have four primetime games, face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and host the Seahawks in a dynamic, challenging and impressive schedule.

Tech

Spider-Man's web shooters get real

A German lab technician has created a working Spider-Man web shooter, which fires pellets and a harpoon-tipped, retractable fishing line instead of a liquid web.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.