Making a living through your passion is one thing, but doing it with your childhood best friend is another. UK house duo Bondax have been making it work for the last decade, pushing each other through numerous ups and downs and now finally coming up on their long awaited debut album. EDMsauce was lucky enough to catch their set at the new and improved Mixmag LAB in Los Angeles to get to know the Bondax boys alot better.
Tell me about your first exposure to soul music. That's one of the best aspects of your sound.
Adam: It's really different for both of us, so you go first.
George: Early on in our lives, obviously we've heard of the big soul music, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye and what not. In the UK, soul has it's ups and downs, and especially in the mainstream when we were younger, knowing much less about music, through our early teens we didn't hear alot. As we got to about fifteen, sixteen, we discovered Ballal and DeAngelo and all the likes of neo-soul music. From there we dug a bit deeper didn't we.
Adam: It was funny for me. When I grew up, I love my parents very much but I have some very evangelical christian parents, so I grew up listening to christian rock basically. I had to try and find soul music and one of the first people for me was Kanye West. I remember hearing Late Registration and the samples on that. It was sorta hip hop first and then George introduced me to electronic music, like underground stuff when we were like fifteen. Recently though we've gotten alot more into latin stuff and African music.
You guys are throwing out words like “early teens”, how long have you been friends?
George: Since we were about 12…
Adam: Yeah, like 11 years.
At what age did you guys decide to get serious about music and form Bondax.
Adam: At 15, when we were doing our GCSEs which is the final exam you do before you can choose to go to college. I remember we were in the exam hall working on Garage Band together, that was the first tune we made.
And one of you is more of an instrumentalist, the other is a producer?
Adam: That's basically the dynamic but we've both changed alot over the years. It used to be like I'd always write the chords and George would do the bulk of the production and then we crossed paths a bit more. Like, George has become really good with keys and stuff but we both benefit from each other's skills.
George: We still hold the same roles in the duo but we've taught each other how to do the other thing now. I'll go into the studio maybe before him in the morning and come up with an idea and maybe a sample and some chords then he'll come in and write the bass side and then we'll do the beat together. It's a different process now. Before it was much more me find the samples and Adam would write all the musical parts. Y'know it's changed.
Adam: It's varied a lot over the years.
How old are you guys now?
George: I'm 24, he's 23.
Adam: Well, I'm 24 the first of April so very soon.
So you guys have being close friends throughout your teenage years, those are times when somebody can make a 180 degree change as far as personalities are concerned. How have you guys adapted not just as friends but as business partners as well?
George: I think we've learned the facets that work and the parts of each other that like…not to be overly serious…like when touring we know when to give each other space and leave each other alone. And there's conversations that we know we have to have but we don't wanna have but sometimes, in the past, we would have avoiding them, but now we have to confront them. We're adults now and this is serious, if we fail at this-
Adam: -yeah, we don't have any backup plans. George would be fine, to be fair, but i'm only good at music haha. I don't have anything else.
George: Yeah, we play things a bit more tactically. We have a bit more of a strategy to what we take on. Even though it hasn't come through, cause we haven't released anything yet, but the conceptual idea of the album, the artwork and stuff, is something we thought about way more now then we ever did two, three, or more years ago.
You've been working on the album for a long time, was a lot of your album on the equipment that was tragically stolen a couple years ago?
Adam: Alot of THAT album was, but we made a whole new one.
George: None of that album is on this.
Adam: It's a good thing for us to have a clean slate in the end. It's taken a long time but we've definitely made a much better record than we would have made, like if we would have rushed to make an album full of singles.
Lets talk about one of your recent singles, Neo Seoul. I like how it has a more throwback sound. It doesn't have as much of a buldgy, impactful bass, but rather a quicker, more snappy, oldschool house feel.
Adam: That song came about cause the album isn't very club oriented, it's alot more introspective. There's alot of danceable tunes but it's not designed for clubs at all and with Neo Soul we wanted to make a song that's inspired by Seoul, a place we'd been before and loved so much. George started it and found the amazing samples on it before we went to Uganda, and then we came back and put all the crazy percussion on it. It was quite organic, we came up with the bassline that same day.
George: We had a few records we knew we were gonna sample. The whole melody followed the vocal. We found the sample and knew what we wanted the track to sound like straight away, which doesn't happen very often. It was like “we're gonna make this this tune, we're gonna DJ this tune, this tune is purely for the club”.
Adam: And it's also worth saying that although the album isn't going to be very club oriented, we haven't forgotten about that stuff. We still love house music, we love DJing, we don't want to stop doing that, but we feel like with the album, we're music lovers and we like listening to albums on a plane or in your living room, but Neo Seoul was meant to communicate that we do still love club music.
I completely agree. I don't like DJ albums that are just glorified compilations with no experimentation.
Adam: Yeah, albums are a journey.
George: We've seen the album like a band making the album as opposed to two DJs. We got an orchestra on there, most of the drums are live, and pretty much all the instrumentations are played live.
Adam: We got a choir on the record. We finished the record back in March 2017, all the production and the writing, and we decided “lets to make the record as good as it can be”. So we went back to London and spend months re-recording all the bass parts, used better guitars, and better pre amps, better mics, and we went to Macedonia to record the orchestra. It was an amazing experience and we were very lucky to been able to do that.
You've mentioned alot of different countries, how have your travels influenced you?
Adam: World music's inspired the album alot. It's got alot of field recordings from Uganda and Indonesia.
George: We've been to these places and they've had such an effect on us. We wanted to be able to capture those things but do it in our way. I don't think the album will sound like many American electronic albums, or even English for that matter. We love where we come from but it's not literally from those other countries, but more in the field recordings, the sounds, it's going through us. It might not be the coolest record but it's more about making a record that you can still listen to in 20 years. We made the record for our lives rather than this moment.
Adam: It might not be the most relevant thing in the world but maybe one day it will be.
George: It's not gonna have crazy 808 bass, or is any massive hip hop tunes, but it has hip hop, which is actually kinda a jazz tune. We just tried to hammer some different ideas together and we think it makes sense, but we'll see.
When can expect this album to come out?
George: The album will be out in April, May.
Adam: Yep, Springtime.