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Thievery Corporation make abstract, instrumental, mid-tempo dance music whose classification falls somewhere between trip-hop and acid jazz. Featuring the production skills of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, Thievery Corporation released several warmly received singles on their own Eighteenth Street Lounge (ESL) label (named after their own Washington, D.C. bar and nightclub) in 1996. Although previously known primarily among acid jazz and rare-groove DJs, the group shot to minor celebrity when a track from one of their early 12"'s appeared on respected DJ/producers Kruder & Dorfmeister's mix session for Studio K7's DJ Kicks series. Similar in many respects (and more than just number) to that Viennese production duo, Thievery Corporation subsequently grew in popularity among a wider audience of DJs and headphonaunts.
The duo's debut LP Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi appeared in 1997, along with a compilation of Washington, D.C.-based electronica artists entitled Dubbed Out in DC (both albums were released by ESL). After signing with the British label 4AD, Thievery Corporation began to work on their second LP but were forced to postpone its release date after tapes were stolen in a mugging. The stopgap remix compilation Abductions & Reconstructions was released in 1999, and their second proper album The Mirror Conspiracy followed one year later. The duo's growing fame made them a natural choice to select tracks for the 2001 Verve compilation Sounds from the Verve Hi-Fi.
They returned to their own work in 2002 with The Richest Man in Babylon, and the mix album Outernational Sound and remix EP Babylon Rewound both appeared in 2004. That same year, the track "Lebanese Blonde" was featured in the highly successful Garden State soundtrack, which later won a Grammy Award. 2005's The Cosmic Game featured guest vocalists Perry Farrell, the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, and David Byrne, and the remix compilation Versions followed in 2006. As election season approached, Thievery Corporation released the politically minded studio effort Radio Retaliation in September 2008.
Thievery Corporation is a Washington, D.C. based recording artist and DJ duo consisting of Rob Garza, Eric Hilton, and their supporting artists Rob Myers, Frank 'Booty Lock' Mitchell, Jeff Franca and Ashish Vyas. Their music style mixes elements of dub, acid jazz, reggae, Indian classical, Middle Eastern, and Brazilian (such as bossa nova).
Thievery Corporation was formed in the summer of 1995 at Washington D.C.'s Eighteenth Street Lounge. Rob Garza and Lounge co-owner Eric Hilton were drawn together over their mutual love of club life, as well as dub, bossa nova and jazz records. They decided to see what would come of mixing all these in a recording studio, and from this, the duo started their Eighteenth Street Lounge Music record label.
The duo drew attention with their first two 12" offerings, "Shaolin Satellite" and "2001: a Spliff Odyssey" and with their 1997 debut LP, Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi.
In 2002 they released The Richest Man in Babylon on their ESL label. This fifteen track album is similar in sound and timbre to their earlier 2000 release, The Mirror Conspiracy, and features performances by vocalists Emilíana Torrini, Pam Bricker, and Loulou.
In 2005 they released The Cosmic Game, which has a darker, more psychedelic sound than The Richest Man in Babylon. The album also featured more high-profile guest singers on it, including Perry Farrell, David Byrne, and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.
In 2006 the group released Versions, a selection of remixes done by Thievery Corporation for other artists. They toured around the United States, playing at Lollapalooza. The tour was photographed by Rob Myers, Thievery Corporation's sitar and guitar player, in the Blurb photo book Thievery Corporation 2006. In 2006, the band also recorded "Sol Tapado" for the AIDS benefit album Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin Redux produced by the Red Hot Organization.
The group released their fifth studio album, Radio Retaliation, on September 23, 2008. It was nominated for the Grammy for best recording package. Thievery Corporation's tour started out with 5 consecutive sold out shows at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC.
The language of the group's lyrics throughout their career include English, Spanish, French, Persian, Portuguese, Romanian and Hindi. This reflects the group's world music influences.
They were the opening act on August 1, 2009 for Sir Paul McCartney at FedExField in Landover, Maryland.
On July 27, 2010, Babylon Central, the cinematic directorial debut of founding member Eric Hilton, was released. Set (and shot) in Washington, D.C., the film follows tripwire events in the interconnected lives of its characters, each influencing power brokers' schemes to manipulate international currencies.
In June 2011, Thievery Corporation released their sixth album, Culture of Fear.
In January 2012, Thievery Corporation launched a remixes contest in conjunction with Dubspot.
Thievery Corporation has taken progressive political stances on various issues, opposing war and exploitative trade agreements, while supporting human rights and food programs. Tracks such as "Amerimacka" and "Revolution Solution" from their album The Cosmic Game and Richest Man in Babylon from the album of the same title reveal the group's opposition to the positions and initiatives of former president George W. Bush's administration.
In September 2005, the group participated in the Operation Ceasefire concert, with the objective of ending the Iraq War.
From their press release regarding their album Radio Retaliation, Garza said:
Thievery Corporation are vocal advocates for the World Food Programme, seeing hunger as "...something basic, really elemental, that transcends boundaries around the world."
At Lollapalooza 2009 the group spoke out against the IMF after playing the politically charged song "Vampires".