Justin Gilman and Juan Galindo are the two founding members of Chicago indie duo Rites. Their sound draws from bands such as MGMT, James Blake and Passion Pit: ones that mix traditional rock and electronic music. They pull from other, more subtle influences such as heavy metal, early 2000s punk/emo/hardcore, Grizzly Bear and Radiohead. How do all of these eclectic influences fuse together in harmony? Let’s find out.
The two met while trying to find other musicians to jam with on Craigslist. Galindo came to Chicago from Guatemala to study musical composition at Columbia College. Gilman moved to Chicago after graduating from Maryland Institute College of Art and quitting a band he played with in Baltimore.
Galindo was very involved with heavy metal. “I used to practice eight hours a day to keep my chops,” he said. “[My guitar] looked like someone took a saw to the frets, I played it so much.”
Gilman was very involved with pop-punk. “I inherited a guitar from my dad and jammed on drums with my brother my whole life,” he said. “It started with MXPX, then more punk-y stuff, then the more melodic, emo stuff.”
So how did they end up making electronic music? How were they able to sound fresh and fluid in their use of the new medium if they didn’t intend on creating that when they started? Gilman and Galindo weren’t able to find a drummer, so they started using a laptop and keyboard to fill in the absent percussion.
”We fell into electronic music, realized it’s a whole new universe of making music, and [are] just discovering new stuff every day,” Gilman said. “We’ve made about 50 songs because we keep rediscovering our style.”
“As electronic artists that’s been our quest,” added Galindo. “We write songs and add condiments.”
Rites’ debut EP is very diverse. It has a nice, smooth feel like Atlas Sound but with punchy drums and synth like MGMT and Foster the People. The high-pitched vocal harmonies add a layer of authenticity and variety.
For the upcoming year, Rites plan to release the songs they’ve been working on and polishing as EPs or singles as they finish them, so they can give their fans a constant stream of material to listen to. As for their shows, Rites are going to stick to their original intentions for starting the band, which is to make meaningful connections with people while having fun, not desperately searching for fame.
“You forget why you originally started,” Gilman said. “For us, it was to play parties, have fun, and get something out of it. That was the business model for this band. Fuck these way-too-serious, dark, extreme indie shows. We want to be part of having a good time; we want [the fans] to be a part of it with us.”