Undiscovered: Elite Gymnastics – Where East Meets West


Elite Gymnastics is the mysterious K-Pop-infused electronic duo out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, featuring heavy distortion, lyrics inspired by East Asian folklore, and K-Pop sampling. Weird combo? Yeah. Is it good? Hell yeah.

Just one listen and you’ll recognise the talent of Elite Gymnastics members, James Brooks and Josh Clancy. From atmospheric soundscapes, thought-provoking lyrics, and experimental sampling, these two prove themselves to be creative masterminds deft in executing a style of music completely unique to them.

Brooks and Clancy began making music together back in 2008 on laptops, and have put together EPs, an LP, and mixes – including their mix for UK fashion line Forty Ounce Clothes titled All We Fucking Care About Is K-Pop, Whitehouse and Our Cats. After listening to their music, I would be surprised if this wasn’t 100% true. This mix was followed up by another titled I Want a 38-Minute Truce During Which There Is No Rape: once again serious – Brooks addresses the appalling criminal act in ‘On Fraternity,’ the single of his new moniker, “Default Genders.” I digress. The release of these mixes garnered plenty of press – especially for the adoption of K-Pop in their music.

Though Brooks split from Elite Gymnastics in 2013, their music lives on – as does its influence on Brooks’ current work.

The potential of Elite Gymnastics is realized in their brilliant track, ‘Omamori,’ which speaks of both Eastern and Western items, or amulets, that could be regarded as tokens of luck and protection. In traditional Japanese culture, an “omamori” is a charm or talisman sold at religious sites and dedicated to certain Shinto deities, and serves to bring luck or protection.

“I bought this talisman / Made from a lion’s skin / Once free and beautiful king / I hope we don’t end up like him.” Here Brooks provides us a comical, uniquely Western perspective on an Eastern subject. “You bought some cigarettes / Because you’re ignorant of death / Because you think if you’re fearless / Even death would be impressed.” He follows it up with a brilliant quip, relating a relatively modern item, cigarettes, to a long-standing Eastern observance. Elite Gymnastics have built their identity in the most unexpected niche, in a music category they’ve established and defined. We hope to bring you more experimental genius moving forward.

I coincidentally made a video of my time in Asia featuring ‘Omamori’…shameless plug. Give ‘em a listen and a watch and let us know what you think!

Travis Welwood

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