Overheard in LA
You guys have worked with some pretty impressive people. Who would be your dream artist to work with?
SG Rihanna. She’s sort of just the best.
Have you guys ever gotten star struck working with some of the artists that you have?
JP I think you get more star struck if you see someone out of context. But when you’re in a studio setting it’s kind of par for the course. You’re just there to work really, and get the vision expressed as best as you can, and you’re focused on that.
SG I think there was maybe one time, when we met Andre 3000. We weren’t expecting that. He was a total hero of mine from childhood, and still now. We just had no idea what to say.
What’s the process like when collaborating with different artists? Does it happen organically in the studio or is it pre-planned?
SG We do a lot of planning beforehand. Whenever it’s just the two of us, we’re always working on new ideas. That can be anything from simple beats to entire songs. Depending on who we’re working with, we always bring a lot to show them. It’s always the best starting place to have something to riff off of and just get the ideas going. Sometimes that’ll work really well, or sometimes it won’t, and people will want to work from scratch.
JP We just try to be super flexible and adaptable.
SG A lot of the time when you’re going into the studio, you’re meeting people for the first time. It’s a heavy expectation that you’re going to meet for the first time, get along, and make something creative. We found the more you prepare and have an open mind to a lot of potential directions and vibes usually leads to the best thing.
You’ve worked with a lot of people in hip hop, but your music leans more towards house and techno. How does that influence each other?
SG I was thinking about this last night actually. Our first album was really techno more or less. But for us as a producer, we were always working with the same moods or ideas, but just figuring out a way to get those ideas out. In the beginning techno was the most direct for us. If we were a real band with guitars, our first album would have been our garage rock, really raw, 4-track album. It was the easiest way to get out these concepts we were experimenting with. Now, it’s gotten so evolved and I think we’ve gotten so much better as songwriters, producers, collaborators. Even being able to bring in the people we want to work with has expanded so much. But the core feeling in the music is pretty much the same. Just a new sound.
I feel like you work with a lot of up and coming artists, almost right before they’re about to explode. How do you discover them?
JP We’re constantly digging and checking music out. We also get sent a lot of stuff. When we hear certain voices, we know it’s part of our world. There’s some inexplicable tone that we’re searching for, and some people fit into it very naturally. Khalid and Amber Mark are incredible artists and we were fortunate that we vibed with them and were on the same wavelength.
SG A lot of bigger producers wouldn’t work with people that are so small. When we hear something we like, it doesn’t matter if they’re Kanye or someone on soundcloud with 25 followers. If we like it, we’ll definitely go in and try to help them grow and figure it out.
How do you pick the songs you remix? They’re pretty varied.
SG It always going off the feeling, and the same sort of vibe. I think it’s a little hard to describe but I think we’re drawn to stuff that feels a little melancholy, but then is contrasted with production and sounds that are a little rougher around the edges.
JP And hopeful. Melancholy and hopeful. Always elements of both sides, just like life.
Those are pretty complex feelings, especially when you translate them into sound.
SG Another way to describe it, is when we were working in the studio with Kelly [Zutrau] from Wet on our album, and she asked us what we were going for, or what the vibe is. We said, think about being on the run, but with someone you love. And she was like, oh I get that. And that became the cue point for everything. There’s excitement, a little bit of sense of doom, but there’s a real emotional centerpiece for it all.
Do you often think in a cinematic way?
JP 100%. That’s a lot of the genesis of a lot of vibes and ideas. We’re always thinking about things visually. Or storytelling with how the arc of the entire album feels. Bringing people in and out on different tracks, almost as if they were scenes. Maybe it’s because we live in LA, but we’re really thinking about it a lot.
SG It started as a joke, but we would think of the Terrence Malick movie Badlands, and say it’s like Badlands with 808s.
Do you feel like living in LA defines your style?
SG It’s definitely one of our core things. We love a lot of other places, but there’s always something about the city that pulls us back in and inspires everything we’re putting out.
JP Our studio has always been in very active parts of LA. Not like in valley where you have your own space. So we bring in a lot of what we’ve seen, whether we want to or not, you can’t help but be inspired by it.
Would you ever consider living anywhere else?
SG Honestly, no. There’s so many places that I like to visit and get inspired from. But in terms of living, I’d say LA for life.