At this year’s Ultra Music Festival, which is perennially one of the biggest draws of Miami’s Winter Music Conference, electronic-music fans casually strolled from stage to stage, checking out the big beats of the world's most popular DJs, including Sasha & Digweed, Tiesto and Carl Cox. But when Passion Pit - a fairly new indie-electropop band from Cambridge, Mass. - kicked into its set on the main stage, the joyous stampede that followed was astonishing. Young ravers flocked - no, skipped - toward the sound of lead singer Michael Angelakos' wonderfully delirious falsetto cascading overtop childlike, synth-heavy tunes including "Sleepyhead," "The Reeling" and "Little Secrets."
Sunday, June 13, catch the latest "It" band at the Fillmore Miami Beach, along with Tokyo Police Club and BRAHMS. Bassist Jeff Apruzzese talked to Miami.com about what inspires Passion Pit and the guys' surprisingly swift rise to fame.
First off, how was your experience in Miami at WMC?
Oh, it was great. I heard a lot of really good things about the Winter Music Conference and actually have been wanting to go for a really long time, so it was a pleasure and an honor to be invited to come play and check out other DJs and electronic acts while we were there.
What were a couple shows you checked out?
I was really stoked because I'm a huge Fake Blood fan, so I was so excited to see him perform - it was awesome. And I saw Tiesto. But we actually didn't do too much because we were only there the day that we were playing, and that night I had a DJ gig of my own. I forget where it was, but it was pretty close to the Ultra Festival site. Maybe it was the White Room.
What can we expect from the show at the Fillmore?
Lots of energy, strobe lights, maybe seizures [laughs]. Lots of sweat - Miami's probably pretty hot at this time. But yeah, we're at a point now where we're really comfortable performing our material, so once you're comfortable with the task at hand, you enjoy it more and it opens up the doors and the possibilities, to not stress and fret about what you're doing. We've been touring on this material for a long enough time now that we all enjoy performing it so much more. We don't have to worry about what the next verse is gonna be, or a change we made in the song.
Most of Passion Pit went to the esteemed Berklee College of Music. What turned you guys toward electronica or electro-pop or whatever you want to call yourselves now?
Well, we did go to Berklee, but none of us were really in a Berklee frame of mind, so to speak. I was going for jazz studies, so I was playing a lot of jazz before I went there. But for me, I think it was too much of a good thing, maybe, because at Berklee, they were kind of force-feeding you jazz harmony and all the jazz-oriented music styles. So I kind of turned away from that, and they had a really good electronic music program going on there, and some of the guys in the band were enrolled in that. I don't necessarily think we were running away from anything at Berklee - there's a lot of different music that goes on there. We were all playing with various bands while we were there, and they were all over the place. We were all into weird stuff.
What groups most influenced or inspired Passion Pit's sound?
I think it's [drummer] Nate [Donmoyer]'s background DJing and playing electronic music that changed the sound of the band, and just his ability for programming. But one group that kind of opened all our eyes was one called Capsule, from Japan. That whole genre of J-Pop changed the way we listened to things, and that was a huge influence and something that was played a lot during the creation of the record.
What did you initially expect from the band? Did its success surprise you?
Completely, yeah. I had just thought I was gonna be playing some music with some friends for the summer before I was gonna go off and get a job. Originally, I wound up graduating with a music industry degree, so I had done various internships at independent labels in New York City. And I was getting ready to move there and try to find a job at a label. And then kind of unexpectedly, the band took off. So my life plan kind of shifted and derailed a little bit. I really couldn't be happier and more grateful for everything that's happened - it was just completely unexpected.