On a spring evening in 1995, over a drink at Washington, DC's Eighteenth Street Lounge, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton decided to combine their production efforts and form Thievery Corporation. After discussing their mutual admiration for Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto, and their overall disdain for the majority of modern music, the duo embarked on a musical journey.
While neither considers himself a musician, both members have musical backgrounds. Hilton was playing in a neighbourhood garage rock band at the age of 11. Later, in his teens. Hilton became in awe of early punk rock groups like The Clash, The Jam, and The Sex Pistols. But it was the discovery of the local DC hardcore sound that he thinks changed him forever and after forming his own hardcore band in high school, Eric's tastes broadened to include the Two Tone and neo-mod sounds that were emerging in the UK. In the late '80s, Eric became a house music DJ at the Fifth Column, DC's premier dance club at the time. Leaving his gig there, Hilton began to throw warehouse parties and eventually started a weekly club night, Exodus.
Rob Garza was born outside Chicago and soon moved to Walkersville Maryland, a small town 40 miles from Washington, DC. He grew up listening to his parents record collection: Henry Mancini, Sam Cooke, Johnny Cash, The Drifters and The Beatles. At the age of 16, Rob moved to urban Connecticut and started making beats in his school's electronic music class. There he learned electronic sequencing, sampling and drum machine programming. After returning to Maryland for high school, Rob enrolled at a school for visual and performing arts. While working for a firm specialising in aviation security and counter terrorism, Rob discovered jazz and bossa nova.
And so Thievery Corporation was born. There can be very few bands so perfectly named: the duo's magpie nature offers a perfect representation of the post-acid house sampling culture. Slipping through reggae dub plates, skimming around the edges of lounge muzak, taking in breaks, beats and bossanova along the way, Thievery Corporationâ€™s bounty is an endless treasure chest of ideas old, new and borrowed.
Thievery Corporation's first single was â€˜2001: A Spliff Odysseyâ€™, issued on their own Eighteenth Street Lounge (ESL) imprint in January 1996. That debut release brought instant recognition from the underground, its languid dub grooves turning up in DJ sets everywhere. Debut album Sounds From The Thievery Hi Fi emerged in the US in 1996. Laid back yet firing, it was a smoky homage to all things out on the dark side, a multi-textured transformation of rastafarianism, martial arts and fourth world beats. The album caught the ears of 4AD, who promptly signed the duo. Thievery Corporation's first release for the label was an expanded version of Sounds From The Thievery Hi Fi, issued in June 1998.
Released in August 2000, second album The Mirror Conspiracy found the duo taking a softer approach, inspired by late '60s movie soundtracks and rare library music from Italy and the UK.The result was a record which combined soft expression with powerful emotion. It was accompanied by a single, â€˜Shadows Of Ourselvesâ€™, which proved to be Thievery Corporation's last release on 4AD. The duo continue to record for their own ESL label.