For Chicago-based electronic group Autograf, creating and releasing music isn’t a long-planned process. Formed by art students Jake Carpenter and Mikul Wing, and derivatives trader Louis Kha, Autograf maintains a unique place in the chilled-out, downtempo world of EDM.
“The way we make music now is very in the moment, so it’s like, ‘How do we feel right now?’” says Kha, whose group plays Shady Park in Tempe on Saturday, June 10. “And if we can get the song out fast, then I feel like it’s a good reflection of who Autograf is, as opposed to making a song that’s going to come out many months later.”
While the talented trio unites to create an easy-going, summer-friendly sound, Carpenter, Wing and Kha come with a variety of influences and musical backgrounds outside of their former day jobs.
Kha played violin and guitar as a teenager, whereas Carpenter took up the marimba. When it comes to its influences, the group is equally eclectic. While some of its members grew up on classic rock and metal, Wing cites artists like Nine Inch Nails and Aphex Twin as being bridges to his love of electronic music. Later on, performers like The Faint, Justice and Tycho would lend a hand to the eventual formation and evolution of Autograf.
The group also shows its range of influences through its remixes, which have consisted of songs by artists like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder to Pharrell, Lorde and Fatboy Slim.
“We just kind of look for that part of the song that really latches onto us and how we think we can really reimagine it and make it into something completely different and new without ruining the original version of that track, so we’re kind of building upon it,” Wing says.
“Every week we get sent tons of different tracks to remix, and we go through them and really are looking for those songs that we think we can do something different to them,” he adds.
Because of the group’s background in art, Autograf places a strong importance on the visual aspect of their music and stage setup.
“We’re really DIY with everything we’ve done,” Wing says. “With our last tour, we built all the lighting rigs for it and the art sculptures that are on stage with us, and they interact with the music, controlled through Ableton as well. There’s this fluidity between the music and the visuals for our shows.”
But unlike many other electronic artists, Autograf doesn’t simply just DJ. It is important to the trio to incorporate live instrumentation into its performances. While this was inspired partially by early tours with fellow artists like Tycho, it ultimately comes down to the group’s backgrounds with other genres, Kha says.
“Really it was just me having a conversation one day with Jake randomly, finding out that he played the marimba in high school,” he explains. “And I thought that was a really unique and different instrument, so pretty much the next day we bought a marimba and started incorporating that into our show, and from then on out, we just added more and more and more.”
As Autograf has grown since its first SoundCloud uploads in 2013, Kha, Wing and Carpenter have spread their music across numerous platforms, from small, intimate club shows to large-scale festivals like Coachella and Electric Forest. But the group is quick to admit it loves both outlets.
“There’s definitely different vibes between both of them,” Wing says.
“The small ones are nice because you can actually connect on a personal level with people and actually meet fans afterwards, whereas you can’t really do that at a festival,” Kha explains.
On May 19, the group released its new single, “Simple,” which features vocals from Victoria Zaro, who was previously featured on The Chainsmokers’ 2015 single “New York City.”
“I’d say it’s carefree; it’s fun,” says Kha of “Simple.” “The lyrics say you don’t have to try too hard. It’s simple. I think that’s all it is. It’s just an anthem for the summer, just to live in the moment and be free…we’re really excited about it.”
“We’ve been enjoying just putting singles out, but at a pretty fast rate,” he adds. “We did an EP (Future Soup) last year that was meant to be more of a body of work, but right now we’re just kind of making individual songs that stand on their own. We’ve been putting one out almost every month, or every other month, and we’re just going to continue to do that for the rest of this year, I’d say.”
Autograf, Shady Park, 26 E. University Drive, Tempe, relentlessbeats.com, 9 p.m. Saturday, June 10, $20, 21 and older.