A few months ago I was searching through Soundcloud as I usually do and stumbled across a remix of Dropout's ‘Slowly' by a group called Two Friends. Immediately I was blown away by the track, and started to dig deeper. Each track the duo produced was fantastic. Over the coming months I listened to each release and they were all awesome. I eventually would name Two Friends as one of the most underrated acts of 2015. So when I approached them with the idea of an interview and they accepted I was beyond excited. Eli and Matt are Two Friends who exemplify everything that is right in the world of dance music at the moment.
I Skyped Eli a few days before the WMC this month while he was in NYC. Matt was in LA at the time and due to some technical difficulties we conducted the interview with a video feed of Eli and Matt on speaker phone. Just getting things situated with the guys made me realize how down to earth they were, and that they truly were best friends. We were all cracking up before a conversation was really had. First and foremost though I was curious to hear the story of how they started, as they use a lot of live instruments in their tracks, demonstrating some level of musical experience before starting to produce dance music.
Eli: Matt and I grew up in los angeles and went middle and high school together, so we met when we were like 12 or 13. Actually for the first six years of being friends we didn't do anything musical together. Individually though matt has played guitar like his whole life. Hes also done some school choir stuff and took music theory as well. Me on the other hand… well I did play clarinet for like two years but uhh that’s not important
EDM Sauce: So are we not going to hear clarinet in the next track?
Eli: You know I don't think I have opened that case in the past eight years…
Matt: I'm pressuring him
Eli: Yeah he has been trying to pressure me but there is like definitely mold in that thing and I don't want to put it in my mouth.
Matt: Put the team on your back and make the sacrifice hahaha
Eli: Hahaha okay okay. But so it wasn’t really until towards the end of our senior year of high school [when we started to produce]. We both knew we were going to college and were second semester seniors who were not really worried about school, so we were trying to have fun and we were best friends and both had this interest in music. I had been making mash ups and learning how to DJ and we were kind of like ohh we are already best friends and hang out all the time anyway, why don't we purchase a software program and just mess around with it. It was just really natural, we never had any formal training, we just kind of bought the program and slowly learned it and now here we are. You'll pretty much hear a guitar in at least 90% of our songs and that's always Matt playing but um yeah I am still yet to make my clarinet live debut…
EDM Sauce: But there's Hope?
Eli & Matt: Oh there's hope don't worry.
Having listened to Two Friend's entire Soundcloud library a few times over, I noticed a trend. Their music did not fit any specific mold. It was impossible to box them into a specific genre. Originality was the trend as well as upbeat harmonies but past that each track had its own feel. I wanted to know how they would describe their music, what was the vibe they went for and the overall message they wanted to put out.
Matt: Yeah I feel like probably about a year ago at this point we were making more stereotypical progressive house. We were then trying to push the boundaries in different ways but at a certain point we were just kind of like: we want to broaden our spectrum as we don't want to just end up being stale. So we started playing with a lot of piano based stuff, and then started bringing in other instruments and that was pretty much 2015 in a nutshell for us. We have been trying to experiment with a lot of violin, harmonica, and saxophone. We have been kind of calling it soul house, but people have been calling it piano house…some even call it trance house, but we don't really care what people call it as long as they like it.
Eli: I think a really cool part about the style we've been messing around with is that we really pull from a lot of other genres. So like Matt was saying, it's kind of hard to name it but it's cool because it has some elements from deep house, some from progressive house, and even some accoustic elements. We have kind of pulled our favorite elements from different stlyes and made something new but thats still kind of have the familiar foundations
Matt: These are the first releases where people can hear it and be like “Ohh yeah that's the two friends guys.”
Eli: Yeah we have been getting that a lot more than when we were starting out. People won't even know it's our song, but they think it might be by the vibe, and sure enough, it is.
Two Friends rose to glory because of their notable remixes. They have had great success remixing the likes of Blink 182 as well as The Chainsmokers. Recently though they released their first original track through Armada. I believed that remixes and originals both must come with a certain set of challenges. It was interesting to gain insight from the guys on their creative process around both.
Eli: We have been sitting on a lot of original material. Some of it is pretty much 100% done and we are trying to figure out the best release plans. Other songs are 90% done and we are kind of shopping around looking for releases while others are just a kind of a vocal idea and we are still producing them out. The thing about remixes, and it is why we were able to do so many of them in 2015, they are just a lot easier to plan when we were going to release them. We spent a week teasing it and doing some promotion and then we could just release it, especially if it was just a free download and not official. The originals though, is just a whole process, some of which is fun, some of which is frustrating. Finding the vocalist, recording with the vocalist, editing the vocals, producing it out and then once the songs gets done you have to go through the whole process of finding the right label, finding the right home for it, doing all sorts of promotion. So while we do have tons of original material, what we are doing now is finding out the best ways to get it out there and be proud of it.
Matt: The one thing we have kind of noticed just from having our team around us, is that originals are really where you are going to make a mark. So the feedback process is just so much more stringent. Everything is just over critiqued. Sometimes it just seems inefficient but you just have to have the hope and know that it's worth it. In the end we at least hope so. One thing we just love and comes across in our brand is that we love writing top lines, we love co writing and we are really excited for the originals.
Two Friends are on the cusp of blowing up. Their remixes got played out on the mainstage of Ultra and have received millions of plays on Soundcloud. Their originals have received attention from the biggest names in the industry in addition to finding homes on the industries most sought after labels. So moving forward now what was the goal? Where did Matt and Eli want to see Two Friends go?
Matt: I think a lot of the unreleased stuff is really diverse. A lot of it dives into pop and other stuff. I think probably the end game is start to move towards cross-over artists so we can be diverse and be able to release whatever we want. If we corner ourselves too much we wont be able to successfully release whatever we want. Also we want to be able to show our personalities exactly as we are. We are trying to build a foundation as much so when we start releasing more originals and who knows maybe when one pops off, we’ll be ready.
Eli: Like Matt mentioned earlier with the song writing, that is something that is really one of our favorite aspects of what we do. And so it used to be where we would box ourselves in a little bit; we used to imagine a song was at a certain tempo or a certain style and write with that in mind. Now a days we write what is catchy and what is meaningful to us and just kind of go from there. So like Matt said: different tempos, different styles, different vibes. We got a lot more coming soon and really hope everyone digs it. We are kind of like anxious, as we just have so much and just want to get it out there.
When the people bought tickets at a venue to just see you, there is really no better feeling. Feeling the energy and hearing people sing along is incredible.
I really don't know if I have had more fun conducting an interview outside of this one. Matt and Eli are great guys, fun to talk to and easily approachable. It makes it easy to see why they are finding so much success so naturally. They are best friends, doing what they love and doing it for their fans. Before I hung up the Skype call I had to ask what they would do found in a Zombie Apocolypse situation, and with Eli being in NYC and Matt being in LA at the time, I think we might have stumbled across a plot for a summer blockbuster. I want to thank Matt and Eli for their time! Check out all of Two Friends socials down below.
EDM Sauce: In this exact situation, where you are now, if sirens started going and the off zombie apocalypse started happening what would be your game plan?
Matt: Well what I would do is probably go and pick up some little league baseball bats, make a little militia, distribute them, and try to make..well have you ever seen the purge? Yea? Okay well try to make a little fort, home base kind of like that. Eli can you fly over?
Eli: See I don’t know, are airports working? See I would try to get to LA as soon as I could.
Matt: Do you watch Walking Dead?
Eli: No I don't watch The Walking Dead…do the airports working in Walking Dead?
Matt: No Definitely not.
Eli: I mean luckily right now I am on the walk up fifth floor of a New York apartment. So I think I would be good.
Matt: You're going to run out of food and stuff. You're going to starve.
Eli: Thats a good point…
EDM Sauce: I just kind of feel like this would be such a good movie. Eli makes it back to LA. Reuniting the Two Friends in the Zombie Apocalypse.
Eli: I have never really given zombies a fair thought, never really considered this enough to have a game plan. It's hard to prepare.
EDM Sauce: I guess that's the thing…you don't know what kind of zombies you're going to get. It could be the really crappy kind of zombies that you could kind of push over, and you'd just be like wow this was really overdone by the media. Or you could get the 28 days later ones that are super fast. So I don't know… It makes me think think as I guess I'm not really as prepared as I would like to be.
Matt: Yeah see we don't know what kind of zombies. Like the Walking Dead Zombies are pretty tame. They pretty much move like 1mph and the only time you're in trouble is when there's like a lot of them. You could pretty much walk around them.
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