Justin Boreta’s Evolution from Ellwood to Electronica

Goleta Native’s Latest Project Superposition Is Nominated for Grammy Award

Credit: Courtesy

Though Justin Boreta admits that Form//Less is not the album he expected to earn a Grammy nomination after his nearly two decades in the music business, the Goleta native is proud of what that means. “It’s really a testament to the fact that it’s an honest piece of music,” explained Boreta, whose five-song recording — which he created with Matthew Davis under the name Superposition — is up for Best New Age Album when the Grammy Awards go down on March 14. “We created it for the love of it, and that translated.”

Boreta is best known for his role in The Glitch Mob, an electronic dance music trio with collaborators edIT and Ooah. A distinguished name in the Los Angeles beat scene since beginning about 15 years ago, The Glitch Mob has performed at festivals such as Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, Lollapalooza, and Shambhala. 

“Glitch Mob has a ton of different styles of music,” said Boreta. “Some of it is high energy and intense, and some of it is really slow and murky and beautiful and everywhere in the middle. So depending on what you’re feeling, you can find something for yourself there.”

For Superposition, Boreta teamed up with Davis, an audio-visual producer, programmer, and musician who’s worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra, as well as Drake, Bassnectar, and Frank Ocean. Compared to the energetic dance music of The Glitch Mob, Superposition creates a very ethereal and atmospheric style of ambient music, more appropriate for a massage than the nightclub. 

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“It’s not like Glitch Mob with very defined melodies, rhythms, and drums,” Boreta explained of Form//Less, which he described as an “amorphous thing that you can’t really see or hold onto.” The slashes between song names, such as “Echo//Radiate,” and “Storm//Slice,” contribute to its fluid final form, removing a layer of structure from the already abstract recording.

It’s fitting for right now, as well, as ambient music presents itself, in the throes of continued isolation, as an avenue for introspection. If you let it, Form//Less will take you on a journey into a world of smooth, abstract textures, but ultimately on a journey of your own. While The Glitch Mob works to evoke a collective feeling on and off the dance floor, Superposition’s music gives more autonomy to the listener to take on personal excursions. The album’s unique subtlety gives rise to its versatility, whether listeners are, as Boreta envisions, “doing other work, stretching, doing yoga, or meditating.”

Growing up in Goleta, Boreta spent a majority of his adolescence riding his bike, swimming, and building forts near the Ellwood Bluffs. He attributes those natural childhood surroundings as a major influence on his music. “That relationship pervades everything that I do,” explained Boreta. “In some ways, making music all goes back to that sense of connection to nature.” 

Before finding electronic music, Boreta discovered punk rock in his teenage years. “Growing up, there was a venue in Goleta called The Living Room,” recalled Boreta of that once hallowed space for all-age shows, long since paved over into the Fairview Business Center. The Living Room held a legendary status in the Southern California punk scene. “Every big punk band at the time would go and play at this place, and I would let out my aggression and open my mind there,” said Boreta, who also fondly recalls attending energetic punk shows at the Pickle Patch in Isla Vista, a.k.a. the former living room of deejay/producer/UCSB alum Steve Aoki

But the Grammy nominee came into his own when discovering electronic music. “This is what I’m all about,” he thought when stumbling into underground raves, where he was captivated by deejays spinning vinyl for the eccentrically dressed attendees. “Santa Barbara and Goleta, while nothing compared to L.A.’s music scene, at the time was enough to set me off,” said Boreta.

He invested in a pair of turntables at the age of 15 and began mixing on his parents’ stereo. His love for techno and addiction to deejaying opened doors into producing, leading to his role in The Glitch Mob, Superposition, and other collaborations, including an iOS visuals app called Hyperspektiv

While awaiting the Grammy news, Superposition is also set to release a new meditation album called Stepping into Awareness, which intermingles their ambient sound with the teachings of mindfulness expert Eckhart Tolle. “The whole project is about sharing teachings, but putting it in the container of music,” said Boreta. The album is a magnetic pull back into the world of meditation, but the collection serves as a wonderful tool for beginners as well. “I think of it like when you have to give a dog a pill and you put it in peanut butter,” said Boreta with a laugh, who attributes a palliative quality to the new work.

Above all, Boreta thrives off of collaboration. “I love collaborating with friends,” he said. “To be creating art with friends is true success.” And when they work together, the process is very intense. “I really believe in the idea of sprinting and resting,” Boreta explained. “Both The Glitch Mob and Superposition come together for periods of hyperfocus and collaboration.”

During the pandemic, both groups’ collaborations became completely virtual, as they gave up meeting in their Los Angeles studio for safer, digital engagements. It works, said Boreta, but he admitted, “Everyone misses the actual real-time collaboration of working together. There’s something you can’t mock up on a computer.” 

Livestream performances serve as a slight silver lining for artists and listeners alike these days, but Boreta echoes all music makers and fans when saying, “I’m really looking forward to the day when we can really experience live music again.” Ultimately, he hopes his music puts a smile on people’s faces no matter the setting, but he looks forward to a more in-person future. “Live music will come back,” he said, “and it will be glorious when it happens.”

See boreta.net, superposition.world, and theglitchmob.com.

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