Featured Artist: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Unknown Mortal Orchestra makes the kind of music that you have to close your eyes to for a moment — if nothing more than just to block out one of your senses and show your ears some extra love. This is music worth getting lost in, to let the imagination indulge a bit behind the eyelids.

But really, no one can quite sum up that feeling of hearing UMO for the first time like newfound fan Ty Dolla $ign, “Just incredible music. A vibe”

UMO is headed up by the multi-talented Ruban Nielson on guitar and vocals, as well as handling the production side of things. The band is also comprised of bassist Jake Portrait, and recently added brother/former Mint Chicks bandmate, Kody Nielson on drums.

The Nielson brothers hail from New Zealand, where their musical beginnings first took root before making their way to Portland, Oregon.The project came to be known as Unknown Mortal Orchestra after a mysterious track called “Ffunny Ffriends” emerged on Bandcamp in 2010 with no other information.

The track caught the ears of the internet’s swiftest music hunters, as well as garnering a mention from Pitchfork. Word quickly spread from there and then - out of the anonymity - Ruban Nielson came forth as its humble creator and confirmed the name.

The latest album Sex & Food was released on April 6th through the Indiana-based label Jajaguwar. This is the same label the group released their previous two albums with, Multi-Love and II.


(credit: Unknown Mortal Orchestra Bandcamp)


On the heels of the new album, the band is touring in full swing - hitting five continents over the next six months. You can view their full list of tour dates here.

Tickets to Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Vinyl Las Vegas

Sex & Food dips back into Nielson’s personal experiences with polyamory and picks up where Multi-Love left off on a few tracks, with lyrics in reference to his relationship with a shared lover.

Sure, it might be easy to throw out some adjectives to describe the genre-bending, Zeppelin meets Tame Impala, kaleidoscopic psych-rock sound that is Unknown Mortal Orchestra. You could do that. But those are just words, so you’re just going to have to listen and come up with your own.


As you hear Nielson describe his approach in his own words, things get far more authentic. calling the new album simply, “a bunch of jams for people to listen to on the train or their way to work.” in one interview. This is the type of keeping-it-real you love to see. No time for genre-speak.

We The Beat is happy to help bring Unknown Mortal Orchestra to Vinyl at the Hard Rock Casino alongside Shamir in Las Vegas on July 18th. You can find tickets here.

(Cover Image Credit: Unknown Mortal Orchestra Facebook)