Meet Bob Moses, Ellen DeGeneres' favorite band

Bob Moses talks Governors Ball at the Barcardi House
Bob Moses talks Governors Ball at the Barcardi House

This feature is a part of #KanvasLive, an interactive, cross-platform content series brought to life on the Kanvas app and See more coverage here.

The guys of Bob Moses joke that their relationship is like a marriage: The key to making their relationship work isn't that complicated -- they just need to make each other laugh and have a good time. And the Canadian electronic duo, made up of Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance, certainly practices what it preaches: When we talked to them ahead of their set at Governors Ball this past weekend, their rapport was relaxed, easy and infectious.

Of course, it's not just their dynamic that sends off good energy: Their music, which they describe as rock 'n' roll meets techno, has a way of getting a crowd of people feeling good as well.

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Though Howie and Vallance have been touring the world, their biggest break came in the form of an unexpected celebrity fan: Ellen DeGeneres. The talk show host allegedly heard Bob Moses' hit "Tearing Me Up" on the radio one day and reached out herself to get the band on the show to perform it.


That surreal moment has proven to be just one of many "lightning bolt" moments for them, and they're quick to point out that their popularity has been slow to burn ever since their first full-length album, Days Gone By, was released last September.

We chatted with Bob Moses ahead of their Governors Ball set last Friday about how that "Ellen" appearance went down, their unique sound and what makes their duo really work.

Check out photos from Governors Ball 2016:

So, we're a couple of hours out from your Governors Ball set, which is later this afternoon. What's the biggest difference between prepping for a festival set versus a regular show?

Tom Howie: There's not really any difference, to be honest, besides not getting a soundcheck.

Jimmy Vallance: You just got to show up, bring your A-game, rock some face, and tough through your first song, which is basically your soundcheck. Then you're good to go.

Howie: Another difference is that, last night for example, we sold out the venue and we knew people would come to see us. Our fans were going to be there, and Output [where we performed last night] was a place we had played before, so we knew what to expect. For this, we don't know. You're kind of like, "Oh, I hope there will actually be people at the stage." You don't know what it's going to be like. We don't know if our time slot is good and all of that. You go into it with a lot more unknowns, but then you just kind of go for it.

Have you had festival sets that ended up being really different than what you thought they'd be like?

Vallance: Oh, yeah! I remember when we played a festival for the first time, they put us in way too good of a slot on the second biggest stage, and there was nobody there.

Howie: It was a tent that could fit, maybe, 4000 people and there were, like, 400 people there. Another festival experience that was totally unexpected -- in a positive way -- was when we played this festival called Ceremonia in Mexico City a couple of months ago. We went down there not really knowing what to expect even though Mexico has always been good to us -- we've gone down to Mexico a lot. Anyway, we played on the main stage, and it was us, Flume and Avicii. and it was, like, 15,000 people who were just up for it. It was crazy. It's always fun in Mexico, but we definitely weren't expecting that level of energy. It was so awesome.

For readers that may not be as familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?

Vallance: Rock 'n' Roll meets techno. You've got rock 'n' roll and you've got techno, and somewhere in between you've got Bob Moses.

Howie: And, if you're going to get a bit more specific, it's like indie rock meets house music. It's brooding and deep and melancholic, but it's got energy when we play live.

Vallance: It's like a nice, deep glass of red wine. [Laughs]

What's the key to making your band work as a duo?

Vallance: It's like a marriage, man: Keep it fun and funny and make each other laugh.

Howie: The sex is really good. [Laughs] No, but really, we just kind of make it work. We're very similar, but we're also very different. We're just kind of like brothers: We get along well, and when one of us is annoying the other, we're good about just being kind of like, "Whatever!" We just make it work. It's not that tough to do, and we're lucky in that way.

You recently appeared on "The Ellen Show" and performed "Tearing Me Up." How did that come about?

Vallance: She apparently had just heard us on SiriusXMU and said, "I want that band here!" We were touring in South America and were scheduled to fly back to New York, but our manager texted us saying, "Ellen wants you for your birthday." And we thought, "Cool! We're going to Ellen's house!" And he was like, "No! Her show!" We thought it was a prank, and it wasn't until we were there backstage and doing the soundcheck that it really sunk in. Ellen was there and she said, "I love your music!" We were like, "What do you mean?! You're Ellen!"

Howie: She was super down to earth, and she was actually a fan. She was excited to have us on the show just because she liked the music. That made us really happy.


Did you notice a spike in your popularity and in people reaching out after the appearance?

Howie: Our agent is this guy who's very good at what he does, and he's very wise. He told us, "It's not like it's going to be one make-or-break thing, but you're going to have these lightning bolts come in to just add energy [to your career]."

Vallance: Tons of people have contacted us being like, "You were on 'Ellen!'"

Howie: We've gotten tons of messages from DJs and friends from the underground scene telling us they had seen us on "Ellen." At first we were worried that people would think it wasn't cool, but everybody -- even the coolest of the cool underground DJs -- were like, "You f*cking rocked it!"

Vallance: She's the coolest!

Howie: What it really proved to me was that, no matter how big someone's reach is, if things are genuine, it's going to be fine. Ellen is completely real, and she's totally genuine. There's nothing fake about her, and we went on there not because we had our label plugging us, but because she loved our song and called us up telling us to fly in.

Vallance: That genuine quality translates, man!

Howie: You can see it for what it is. You know how if something is bullshit you can kind of see that really easily? It's the same thing.

How has it felt watching "Tearing Me Up" gain so much steam?

Vallance: For the whole album, it's been such a slow burn and it keeps on picking up more and more steam. There's never been a "whoa!" moment, it's just that more people are showing up and more things are happening at this really steady pace. It's been easy for us to just be like, "Okay, now we need more of this and this." It's not like getting dropped in the deep end; it's like walking from the shallow end in.

Howie: The slow burn thing is great because it's nice to have the record have legs for so long. It would be a bit disappointing if it was just a flash in the pan.

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