Electronic dance music is a confusing phenomena: DJs have become the new rock stars of mainstream music, yet any average Joe can produce beats on his laptop. Somewhere in between comes the blur of independent electronic music artists who are working for indie recognition without becoming the status quo.

Enter NITEPPL, the duo-gone-solo “interstellar disco opera” project of San Francisco local Alton San Giovanni. In the midst of so much palatable music emerging into success right here in our own backyard, NITEPPL strives for electronic music that is heavier, darker, and capable of bending genres like a psychic bends a spoon. (See NITEPPL at the How Weird Street Faire on Sunday, 4/28/13.)

The Bay Bridged: How did NITEPPL come about?

Alton: NITEPPL started off an idea I had when I was living in Santa Cruz. I was making dubstep at the time. Then when I moved up to San Francisco I started working with a friend of mine, Gage

[Seber] and we did that together for about two years. It represents a bunch of ideas I had about dance culture and people who go out at night basically.

TBB: Describe your sound.

A: My sound is influenced by a lot of early disco and ‘80s music. Groups specifically like Goblin, this Italian group who worked in horror cinema in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Obviously Michael Jackson as well as rock bands like Led Zeppelin. Kind of a large plethora of things. It’s easier for me to say what isn’t an influence. I know what I don’t want. I would label it as indie dance but that’s only in the interest of preserving some kind of idea of genre.

TBB: How has NITEPPL evolved since it’s conception?

A: NITEPPL started in 2011 and it has evolved so much. It’s changed from this idea of starting a whole giant art project with music and every kind of media. Graphic design, comic books, short story writing were all a part of it when me and Gage first started talking about it. When we first started neither of us had played a real gig before or ever negotiated a contract or dealt with other artists. It was kind of a fantasy. Now Gage is living in New York doing graphic design and I’m living out here.
It first started off as a way for us to get as good at producing music as either of us could and it’s developed through meeting other artists in San Francisco and being a part of the scene and seeing what other people are doing and also seeing how the music that I’ve made has influenced other people.
It started more techno. If I really had to describe it was a combination of Deadmau5 and Justice but… I was 19 when I started NITEPPL and I’ll be 22 on Saturday. It’s three years of experience that’s gone into making music.

TBB: So you took the two different parts of NITEPPL and branched off in different directions?

A: Yeah, exactly. And now I’m doing all my own graphic design. Now NITEPPL is definitely focused more on music.

TBB: Tell me about the creation of Cults.

A: It’s kind of a funny story. Everyone in Our House Records had a private facebook group where we would all communicate and one night I was listening to all of our music on Soundcloud – I do that, I listen to NITEPPL music too much I think, I get stuck in the world of our own music – and I decided that it’s time to do an album. So I posted on the facebook group that we were going to have a 12 track album done in 2012. It kind of became a challenge to make sure that we got it done. We wrote 12 songs and the tracks on Cults ended up being the tracks that I wrote individually. You can actually find the old tracks that Gage wrote on his Soundcloud which is called New Epoch now.

The concept behind it was the prologue to a greater story about NITEPPL. The concept is that NITEPPL is this intergalactic energy which feeds on negative energy in the universe and is attracted like a magnet to planets that have more negative energy than positive energy. The initial concept was that Gage and I were aliens and we were sent to Earth to warn people about the NITEPPL. So the Cult is sort of like the illuminati or any sort of conspiracy on earth that is attempting to bring the NITEPPL to Earth because they think it will be the salvation of the planet. In actuality they’re bringing the end of the planet because they don’t really know that NITEPPL would just devour the entire planet. So the point of the Cult is to bring these intergalactic mouths to planet Earth. It grew from there to be less of a linear story or a direct representation because there’s no lyrics on the album. More of a tone poem. Ideas conveyed musically but not vocally. It’s more of a story for me than for the general audience. I think it’s important to have a concept behind what you’re doing because that way when somebody listens to it they can get their own idea on what it’s about and maybe come close but also make up their own story.

TBB: How do you feel about electronic music at this point in time? Where do you think its headed?

A: I think its at a really special place. Its a place that maybe not so many genres of music have gotten to before with the exception of classical music. It’s at a place where anybody with a computer can sit down, download some software and start making music, put it up and distribute it to all their friends, and gain a following if they’re savvy enough. It’s a similar situation to when Mozart or Beethoven was writing because anyone could sit down, if they had a piano, which everybody did, and write a sonata and give it to one of their musician friends. But I don’t think that’s necessarily happened before or since. In the ‘70s rock bands had to have million dollar budgets to be able to record. Now you can record an album on your laptop and it’s incredibly cheap.

Anybody who wants to make music should be able to do that. It’s a scene that is self-replicating.
It’s also gotten to a point where it’s a bit redundant. It’s the artist’s responsibility to start thinking outside of the box because with the tools we have at our disposal we can make anything we want.

But that’s one of the cool things about living in today where you can see anything from any time. In some ways it’s overload but for people like me I love being able to watch a video of a Moller symphony and then watch a documentary about that symphony and then move to something completely different. It’s no longer about having to buy a record when you’re 12 and listening to it over and over again and having that be your one influence.

TBB: What’s next for NITEPPL?

A: It’s what I’m calling this archetype series and it’s going to be a series of EPs. I haven’t decided how many yet. But at the very least 6. I’m basically going to be releasing an EP each month for the foreseeable future and that’s my next large undertaking. It’s more of a serialized album. The sounds will change and people will hear it, like a choose your own adventure story. The new tracks come out on April 28th and you’ll be able to hear them live on April 30th.

TBB: So you’ll debut them live at How Weird Festival?

A: Yes. I’m really excited.

TBB: Who is your favorite new artist?

A: I just heard this artist Miss Kitten and she’s out of the UK and has a lot of influences from the fashion world. It’s electro-pop meets ambient. She just released her album. It’s a 24 track album.

TBB: What’s been playing on your music player lately?

A: The artist playing on my iPod lately is Oliver down from LA. They just released their Mechanical EP on Fools Gold and “Move Your Body” is definitely one of the most fun tracks. It’s more music for music’s sake as opposed to genre tracks. My friends Manics opened and closed for them when they played with Dillon Francis which was really cool. I played with Oliver here last December and they’re some of the nicest guys.

TBB: What’s your most memorable show to date?

A: I’d have to say when we brought out Danger to Mezzanine and we played an opening set. That was when me and Gage were still working together and it was the debut of Cults. Finally being able to meet Danger and hearing that he liked my tracks and wanted to hang out was totally a dream come true. If I had died that night I would have died happy.

How Weird Street Faire
April 28th, 2013
Free, 12pm – 8pm