El Ten Eleven is a post-rock, instrumental duo from Los Angeles currently on tour promoting their ninth studio release titled, Unusable Love EP. The band’s members are Kristian Dunn (guitar/bass) and Tim Fogarty (electronic/acoustic drums), who were both kind enough to meet with me for a few minutes before their show at The Hi-Fi Monday night.
So this is your first album with vocals, correct?
Kristian Dunn: Yep.
And you don’t have Emile touring with you?
Dunn: We don’t, unfortunately, because he’s in a band called The Dig, who are doing well, and they’re busy touring themselves. The opening band tonight is a band called Sego, and their singer is gonna sing with us tonight.
What brought you to the decision to add vocals?
Dunn: To be honest, almost from the very beginning we thought it’d be cool to have a guest vocalist. But for a long time, no one really offered, or if they ever did, we’d say yes, and then they would never send us anything, so no one seemed to be taking it seriously. And then a couple years ago we decided, you know, let’s do this. Let’s do some collaborations and get more serious about it. And that’s when we started sending emails to singers we knew, and started trying to get it going. It took a long time to get to Emile, we went through a lot of singers. And now we have that EP, finally. We’ve got a couple other collaborations going too, so this is gonna be a thing.
Is that what you’re working on right now? More collaborations?
Dunn: Well, immediately right now we’re working on another instrumental record. We’re actually working on mixes on this tour. In fact, when I was sitting on this couch, earlier today I was listening to mixes, making notes and stuff. So there’s another instrumental record coming early next year. And then after that, will be another collaboration.
How did you come to develop the style you play in?
Dunn: Well when we first started, I thought there was going to be three people, or something more normal. But Tim was the one who had heard of this thing called a looping pedal. I’d never heard of that, but I borrowed one from a friend.
Tim Fogarty: This was like fifteen years ago. Now they’re more commonplace.
So was that around the time you first started playing together?
Fogarty: Pretty much, yeah. It wasn’t the first time. We played maybe, two or three times at least. Maybe more than that.
How long between the time you started playing and when you released your first album?
Dunn: Well the first album came out in 2004, so I guess it was a couple years. Something like that.
Do you have any last messages to fans?
Fogarty: To the fans, thank you for your support and please buy a lot more stuff so we can keep doing this.
Any place on social media that they can reach you?
Dunn: The obvious.
Dunn: Yeah, and Instagram.
Bandcamp and Spotify?
Dunn: Yep. We’re on both, and SoundCloud.
How do you guys feel about sharing music online?
Dunn: Well, the thing that’s cool about that is, now that there’s Spotify, or iTunes or whatever, it’s pretty much eviscerated piracy. So you don’t need piracy anymore. You can just pay ten bucks a month, or just pay nothing and have to listen to commercials and listen to anything you want legally.
Just YouTube stuff.
Dunn: Yeah, and it’s good, Spotify pays us. One play is, I forget, like a fraction of a penny. But it’s okay, because they start to add up and we make money from it. So please, use those streaming services a lot. In fact, even if you’re not listening, just keep playing El Ten Eleven songs (laughs).
Right. Climb the charts.
Dunn: Yeah. This is the golden age for musicians, I think. We put out records ourselves. We don’t have to have a record company or anything. Who knows if people will find it, but in our case, we’re doing pretty well. We’re pretty big, but not huge, so people find it.
A lot less of the big break, and a lot more of the slowly building…
Dunn: Exactly, yeah.
Well, how about any last messages to aspiring musicians who are trying to do the same thing?
Fogarty: You know, that’s probably what it’ll be. Not a big break.
Dunn: Yeah just remember, the race isn’t the prize. So, you know, you should really love playing music. And as many people don’t show up to the show as you were hoping, of course, that’s a bummer. But you should really be loving the songs and playing, and just know if you actually are good, and it’s not just your girlfriend telling you you’re good. If you just keep pounding it out, in our experience, you probably will get somewhere. But it’s a long, frickin’ road. A lot longer than you think it’s gonna be.