Known for their smooth blend of disco, indie rock, electro and more, Los Angeles-natives Michael David and Tyler Blake make up the production duo Classixx. We sat down with them during Coachella to discuss the LA music scene, fashion, technology and the transformation from remixing to recording original tracks on their debut LP Hanging Gardens.
Explain how growing up in LA & around the LA music scene helped shape your musical experience.
LA is a town where tons of great music has come from. Maybe because its such a large city and arts and entertainment are such a huge part of its fabric. We’ve been inspired to make music since we were little kids living here and in our group of friends we found our place being the ones who dug for music and turned people on to exciting stuff new and old. If you look at rock ‘n roll history or whatever you wanna call it, most notable artists spent at least some time here in Los Angeles creating epic stories that legend is made of. I think LA has become just that; a place where music legend exists and i guess that’s pretty exciting and alluring.
Also, we’ve been told that our music makes people wanna chill on a beach at sunset or dance with someone while sipping on some tropical drink next to the pool at the Château or something. We welcome that and can’t deny that growing up with LA as our environment and having the sun in our lives might have something to do with affecting our sound. At the end of the day though we pretty much just make the music that comes to us naturally without putting a whole lot of thought to it. A lot of the artists we love come from terribly cold places like Prince who is from Minneapolis, arguably the coldest place we’ve been. We do love the hell out of this city though.
The two of you met in high school, how has meeting so young helped you become closer as artists? How have you influenced one another’s growth as musicians?
We know exactly where each other comes from musically. It makes things easier to reference and everything is quicker in that way. There’s less explaining to do to get to the root of what you want something to sound like. We’ve definitely grown from working with each other. There are things each of us understood better that we’ve taught each other. We’re also just great friends so it makes creating things together more fun.
Remixes have a strong hold in your history. Can you explain how remixing someone else’s music is different than creating your own? What is the process?
To be honest, the process is not terribly different. We usually find one or two elements we really like and build the song around that. That’s pretty much how we make our own music with the key difference being those one or two elements were also created by us.
You brought in a lot of friends to do vocals on Hanging Gardens. Explain that process and how you selected those individuals. Any favorite collaborations from the album?
I’d say all of the collaborations on the album were equally rewarding. We know that there a lot of talented people out there that can make our music better. We happen to be friends with some very talented people that did just that. When we’re able to collaborate with people as talented as the people that helped with our album we like to let them just do their thing. We try to step back and let them just be good. I think its inhibitive to try to control it yourself too much. Also, when the people you’re collaborating with are your friends it actually makes the whole thing feel even more personal in some way because your relationship with them is personal and in a way that personal relationship is captured in the music. Its an exciting way to create something.
How has technology impacted how you create music? What are its greatest benefits and downfalls in connection to your craft?
Absolutely. We use all kinds of analog and electronic machines to aid us in creating music. The main benefit of technology in music is that it is a great and always evolving tool for innovation. However, the vastness of possibilities that new technology presents can be distracting to finding the core of the music. There must be a balance.
What role do you think fashion plays in the music scene?
For us its important and it’s not. While we love and respect fashion greatly our personal style is somewhat reserved and understated. We almost want it to go unnoticed. As we’ve gotten older we’ve leaned towards wearing classic thing that have always stood the test of time and never really gone away. Classic things that were never really been uncool. Like a pair of Ray Ban wayfarers, Converse Chuck Taylors, or Levi’s 511s with a white tee shirt. You could wear that in any decade since those things were invented and you would stand out of the crowd. That’s kind of where we gravitate towards with our fashion sense. The music is more important for us at least.
You seem to be t-shirt kind of guys, do you have a favorite?
I find new ones. Mike has an original Live Aid t-shirt that i think he probably got from his dad or something. Thats a cool one. I’ve got a Chicago bulls/LA Lakers shirt with Jordan and Magic facing off on it. That was a huge memory of my childhood watching those games so i’m pretty into that one. I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a really rare Talking Heads t-shirt I found on ebay but i haven’t been able to bring myself to fork out the $ for it yet. We’ll see.
What is special about playing a festival that you don’t get to experience when playing your own show?
You get a bunch of the other bands’ fans coming to check you out for the first time and if you play well maybe you can convert them to fans. That’s the main things thats special i guess. Also, you get the feeling of people experiencing something new while literally sweating with other people that are already love it. That’s kind of a rare situation.
What’s next for Classixx?
We’ve just finished a lot of touring and have some festivals coming up. After and around that we go out on tour supporting our friends Cut/Copy in North America. We’ll be heading to Europe after that for some shows and then later in the year, in November I think we’re gonna be playing some Australian shows. In between all that i think we’ll start putting together some new material to work on when the touring slows down.
Photo by Misha Vladimirskiy