Hive Riot founders, and loving "seesters" Mindy and Dustin Gledhill, describe their synthpop project as "electronic alchemy." It's difficult to wrap one's head around how that actually looks and sounds, but spending the afternoon with the duo themselves makes it perfectly clear. Electronic alchemy comes when an established indie singer-songwriter like Gledhill stumbles upon a dormant love for electronic music while recording songs with EDM stalwart Kaskade. Electronic alchemy comes when she enlists the vastly talented Dustin Gledhill, a classically trained concert pianist, as a collaborator. Electronic alchemy is the glittering, effervescent pop duo that Hive Riot has become.
While Hive Riot didn't officially form until December 2014, Mindy and Dustin have been friends since adolescence. Mindy grew up in Northern California and, after a brief sojourn in Madrid, her family moved to Provo—right down the street from the Gledhill family. She met Dustin through a shared appreciation of '80s pop staples like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, and she eventually married his brother Ryan. Dustin's talent as a prodigious classical pianist brought him to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and he eventually relocated to New York.
Despite the distance, Mindy and Dustin kept in touch. When Mindy set her sights on tackling the electronic genre, she immediately thought of her longtime friend. "He has this refined side of him because he studied at the Royal Academy and is classically trained," she says, "but he also has this really crazy side that I felt like he would have fun exploring."
Dustin initially didn't take Mindy seriously. "I thought she was joking," he says. However, when he heard a rough cut of "Wonderwild," the first song on their new album, something clicked. "As soon as I heard it, I was super excited. I wanted to jump on it because it did release that crazy in me."
Now, only a year after their official formation as Hive Riot, the pair have cut their first album together. Last year, they successfully crowdfunded the self-released, eponymous platter, which they released Jan. 22 via iTunes and HiveRiot.com. Their Pledge Music project was so successful that they were able to donate a portion of the proceeds to the True Colors Fund, an organization that provides aid to homeless LGBT youth.
Hive Riot tracked the album in two Provo studios: Eric Robertson's Pleasant Pictures and at Mindy's own, recently opened Forge Collective, a multi-studio space that used to be a turn-of-the-century blacksmith shop. Upon completion, the duo sent the album to be mixed by Justin Gerrish (Vampire Weekend, The Strokes, Weezer) and mastered by Joe LaPorta (Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Bleachers) in New York.
On the Hive Riot Soundcloud page, Mindy describes the album as "the sound of letting go." Tracks like the pop-fizz "Sherlock" and the club-hopping "Catch That Train," feel like surrendering to the controlled chaos of Dustin's thoughtfully constructed, pattern-oriented keyboard skills and Mindy's cotton candy vocals. But then there are moodier, more atmospheric tracks like "Undercover" and "Her Elegy" where letting go means breaking ties with a loved one or finding closure from a past trauma.
"For me," Dustin says, "the process of creating the album was an exercise in letting go, and also [addressing] some more obvious things from my background. My experience with coming out, and my father being a bishop, and then going through that whole process only to have my life do a 180, where my dad actually married me and my husband. Track six, 'Porquoi,' is that story in a nutshell."
To promote their new album, Hive Riot has a few single shows planned throughout the course of the year, and fans can check out their release party/concert on Feb. 20 at Provo's Club Velour. Tickets are available at 24tix.com.