Up-and-coming kings of the underground Bixel Boys make their Dim Mak Records debut with an innovative rework of Botnek and 3LAU’s collaboration “Vikings.” The Los Angeles-bred duo has been making major waves on their ascension to the top, touting their flavorful style of classical 90’s elements-meets-deep house vibes across the country with appearances at Electric Daisy Carnival, Splash House, SnowGlobe and HARD Summer. We caught up with Ian and Rob ahead of their Dim Mak release to chat about their history, productions and big plans for the future.
[highlight style=”default”][highlighttext title=”Botnek and 3LAU – “Vikings (Bixel Boys Remix)”” titlesize=”h3″ subtitle=”Out on Dim Mak Records September 16″][button color=white-button url=”http://geni.us/VikingsBixelBoysRemix” size=”small-button” target=”_blank”]Pre-Order on iTunes[/button][/highlighttext][/highlight]
Tell me about how you two met and began collaborating as Bixel Boys.
Ian) We met through a mutual friend and with our powers combined we became CAPTAIN PLAN — I mean Bixel Boys.
You guys are a product of the Los Angeles scene and continue to act as influential tastemakers throughout the city. How has Los Angeles influenced and inspired your music?
Ian) It’s an awesome collection of creatives all congregated in one place, it’s a great incubator for all of us and we love all the support that we get from those around us pursuing similar endeavors
Your musical styles range greatly from deep house and ghetto-tech to hip-hop and underground. How would you categorize your sound?
Rob) I don’t think that there’s just one way to pin-point our sound. It’s a bit of a musical exploration. We made it clear early on that we weren’t necessarily going to decide on a genre before starting any song. I think this keeps our minds fresh and makes producing a little more fun.
After less than two years producing and DJing as the Bixel Boys, you’ve grown from spinning at house parties to performing at festivals like HARD and EDC. What do you make of your meteoric rise to fame?
Ian) “Meteoric rise to fame ” is a WEEEEEEE bit of an overstatement haha we’re not popping bottles with Diddy, eating caviar on yachts in San Tropez or anything. Whatever small steps towards personal success we have made have come from hard work, everything from prepping different sets to every show, late nights in the studio, and hours of designing all play a part to what we do.
Rob) We also have a great team around us which can equate to some of that overnight success, but we still have a long way to go to achieve what we’re actually trying to do.
How do your sets differ when performing at smaller intimate venues versus on festival stages?
Ian) Festivals we like to make as much of a ‘ performance ‘ as we can and really take people on a musical journey, example this year at EDC we played everything from show tunes, disney theme songs, ACDC and tons of other surprises. I think more intimate settings allow us to read the crowd more and play more moody stuff to get people dancing instead of raving
You’ve been commissioned for official remixes of artists such as The Crystal Method, Architecture In Helsinki, Eliza Doolittle, Thomas Newson, Kayper and Kiesza. How do these remixes come together? What do you aim to bring to the table when reworking such well-known talent?
Ian) Sometimes we like a song, sometimes they approach us, its always different. We just want to be able to take the core of those songs and re-vision them thru our creative lens.
Rob) It’s about making sure that the essence of the original work is still apparent while putting the song in a different world. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. We go through a lot of different versions of things we remix before deciding on a direction.
Just this month you remixed Golden Features’ Tell Me featuring Nicole Miller and now you’ve put your spin on Botnek and 3LAU’s “Vikings.” Do you go into the studio with an idea of where you want to take the original tune, or do you let the ideas flow organically?
Ian) For remixes we tend to let the original dictate the direction we’re going to go.
Rob) For sure organically. We are blank slate producers i.e. no previous project copy/pasting. We tend to just start listening to the parts over and over again and solo’ing sections over random loops and samples until something jumps out at us.
Not only are you music makers, but you’ve also entered the world of fashion with your FREELIFE brand. Tell me about how this idea came together and how the unmistakable black jerseys caught fire so quickly.
Ian) We had a concept about viewing our peers and fans and ourselves as a team, and we wanted to create something that you couldn’t just purchase but you had to earn, so we designed the jersey ourselves and began to give it to people we respected, people really liked the design, the message, the fit and it took on a life of it’s own from there.
I’ve heard you’re launching a charitable arm of the FREELIFE brand soon, can you tell us a bit about that?
Ian) All of the pieces are still coming together but we can confirm that we’ll be linking up the Freelife brand with a charity very soon to start to give back, which is something thats always been very important to us.
What’s next for Bixel Boys?
Ian) more original tunes, gear, and ideas for everybody.
We could not be more excited to welcome Shaun Frank to the Dim Mak team! The Toronto-based producer first caught our ears with his fine-tuned vocals on tracks like “We Are”, then later captured our hearts with his studio skills and solid mixing chops. Having already remixed and covered a bevy of artists including Coldplay, Avicii, Lorde, John Newman and The Neighbourhood, Shaun’s plunging into the world of original productions and we’re stoked to have one of his first with “Vagabond.”
Shaun Frank’s collaboration with Vanrip “Vagabond” will be out on Dim Mak Records on August 5.
[highlight style=”default”][highlighttext title=”To learn more about Shaun Frank, see our exclusive interview!” titlesize=”h6″ subtitle=””][/highlighttext][/highlight]
1. WELCOME TO DIM MAK, SHAUN! WE’VE BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR RELEASES FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS AND ARE THRILLED TO HAVE YOU. WHAT PART OF JOINING THE DIM MAK TEAM ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
Thanks for having me! Dim Mak has such a great roster of artists, including a lot of great Canadian artists like Felix Cartal, Botnek, Autoerotique and Keys N Krates. This label has broken so many new artists, and I’m really looking forward to working with the team on my upcoming singles to really get my music heard on the world stage. We have some really exciting and creative ideas, and so far the label has really been on the same page as me with everything I want to do musically. I can’t see a better fitting label to be working with for where I’m currently at in my career.
2. YOU’RE MAKING YOUR DIM MAK DEBUT WITH “VAGABOND,” YOUR COLLABORATION WITH VANRIP. TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE TRACK CAME TOGETHER AND WHY YOU CHOSE TO WORK WITH VANRIP ON YOUR FIRST EVER ORIGINAL COLLABORATION.
This track came in as a demo to my manager. The Vanrip guys had a drop written that I really thought would kill on the dance floor, so I took the ideas and worked out the track around that drop. I wanted to get really cinematic with the breakdown, so I did a lot of epic sounding tribal drum stuff and wrote chords that I thought would compliment the track. I’m pretty pumped about this one – I’ve been playing it out live and it’s been crushing. It was really a pleasure to debut this track with Steve Aoki at the Dim Mak Beach Party at WMC this year.
3. YOUR CAREER BEGAN AS A LEAD SINGER OF TORONTO ROCK BAND THE ENVY. HOW HAS THAT EXPERIENCE PLAYED INTO YOUR PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUES WHEN DJING?
I think being the lead singer in a band for so many years and being on stage constantly has just really helped my overall confidence when DJing. I mean, there’s the technical side of the whole thing, but I think the most important thing is giving the crowd a super hyped up and emotional experience. It’s what I always strived to do in my band, and now with DJing it’s even more fun to push the limits.
4. I KNOW YOU BROKE INTO DANCE MUSIC BY PROVIDING VOCALS FOR ELECTRONIC TRACKS LIKE “WE ARE” ON ARMADA MUSIC, BUT AT WHAT MOMENT DID YOU REALIZE YOU WANTED TO TAKE YOUR CAREER IN A MORE PRODUCER/DJ DIRECTION?
The truth is I have always been producing music, and have always spent most of my time in the studio. Before I was even singing on dance tracks, I was doing a lot of writing and producing for other artists. I’ve spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville just writing songs and building up my catalogue. Armada reached out to me because they heard my work on an Arty demo, and I sang the “We Are” track, which was kind of my entry into doing this thing as my own project. That was a pretty exciting time because the concept of being a solo artist was never really something I had considered, but then I looked at the catalogue of songs I had, and combined with my love for electronic music, I kind of just dove in.
5. AS BOTH A VOCALIST AND PRODUCER, YOU’RE KNOWN FOR SPICING UP YOUR LIVE SETS BY SINGING AND SPINNING SIMULTANEOUSLY. DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR PROVIDING VOCALS ON YOUR OWN ORIGINAL WORKS, SIMILAR TO CALVIN HARRIS’ RECENT RELEASE “SUMMER?”
Absolutely! There are already some unreleased tracks with my voice on them. I’m also doing a series of club covers where I take a song that you normally wouldn’t hear in the club and redo it with my own vocals. We released the first one for The Neighbourhood called “Sweater Weather” six months ago, and we got a lot of great support from it. The latest was for Coldplay’s “Magic,” and we are working on a new one that’s almost done as we speak. They’re all for free download on my Soundcloud.
6. COMING FROM YOUR LIVE PERFORMANCE BACKGROUND, DO YOU PREFER DJING OVER PRODUCING? OR DO YOU TRY TO FIND A HAPPY MEDIUM BETWEEN BOTH?
I get a little restless if I’m stuck in the studio for too long. My favorite place to be is on stage, it’s truly where I feel at home. Having said that, I think being in the studio is a good way for me to stay grounded, and stay in some kind of a reality. The road is a very surreal place and you lose yourself a bit out there, so sometimes it’s really nice to just get back home and make music again. I kind of feel like the shows are the rewards for all the hard work I put into the studio.
7. YOU’VE ALREADY REMIXED TRACKS FROM VARIOUS INDUSTRY HEAVY-HITTERS INCLUDING AVICII, LORDE AND MARTIN GARRIX. IS THERE ANYONE ON THE DIM MAK TEAM YOU’RE EYEING TO REWORK?
I love the vocals on a lot of the Keys N Krates stuff, I think it would be super fun to mess around with that stuff in my style. I’ve also always been a huge fan of what Botnek does – I think they’ve been one of the most underrated producer teams to date and I’m super happy they’re blowing up right now. I’d love to mess around with their sounds as well.
8. BETWEEN YOUR REMIXES, ORIGINAL WORKS AND VOCALS, YOU’VE DABBLED ACROSS GENRES AND STYLES. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF HEADING IN A MORE SPECIFIC DIRECTION WITH YOUR UPCOMING RELEASES OR CONTINUING TO KEEP YOUR OUTPUTS DIVERSIFIED?
I don’t really think about it too much. I really love so many genres of music, and when I go into the studio or grab my laptop to create something I just go with what comes out. I think I would get really bored if I made too much of the same thing – being free to do whatever I want is what really keeps me inspired. Lately I’ve been writing my tracks on this old broken grand piano I have at my place. I find that if I write the whole song before I even touch the computer, I can really get to the essence of the music without getting bogged down in the technical stuff.
8. WHAT’S NEXT FOR SHAUN FRANK?
Well… “Vagabond” is the beginning of me releasing my own tracks as Shaun Frank, so it’s pretty exciting. I’ve done remixes and club covers so far, but now I finally get to start releasing my own solo work. I’ve got a bunch of tracks that I’m really excited about, and some really great collaborations coming up that I can’t really talk about but they’re going to be really sick. It’s going to be a super fun 2015 – I’ve never felt so on top of my game as I do right now.
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We’ve had our eye on him for some time, and now he’s part of the Dim Mak family. Say hello to Joe Ghost! From his collection of popular mashups to a collaboration with Hardwell, Joe Ghost has been earning his way up the ladder one rung at a time. His Dim Mak track “LIBG”, or “Lose It Baby Go”, tears through tooth and nail with electro fury. We caught up with Joe to get the in depth scoop on him and how he ticks. Check it below.
Joe Ghost is getting ready to drop his new single “LIBG” on Dim Mak Records, available for download on May 6th.
[highlight style=”default”][highlighttext title=”To learn more about Joe Ghost and his ‘LIBG’ single, see our exclusive interview!” titlesize=”h6″ subtitle=””][/highlighttext][/highlight]
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your music.
I was born in raised in Toronto Canada and got my first taste of the DJ culture when I was around 15 years old, after seeing a video of DJ Qbert at a DMC battle. I was instantly hooked, and for the next year I found any excuse I could to help out with chores around the house to earn enough money to buy two turntables and a mixer. I stumbled upon House/Dance music a few years later when I first heard “Groove in you” by Dave Armstrong. I remember being so captivated by the contrast between the emotional and energetic elements instilled in one song.
Fast forward, I then found myself wanting to be not only that person playing these amazing songs , but also the one creating them.
Joe Ghost music can be simply put as “loud+minimilistic” haha. I love creating music that combines both uplifting melodies that force a sense of emotion, and “drops” that are minimalistic, but create a wow factor. I feel that when these two elements are combined, it creates a four-minute package of energy that forces the listener go through various emotions so quickly. It’s a thrill that is hard to get through any other medium!
2. Do you believe in the paranormal? Why yes or no.
It’s funny because I get asked that all the time. However “Ghost” is just a nickname that I’ve had since I was young because I am a shy quiet guy, always the quietest person in the room; it doesn’t reference anything paranormal. But to answer your question, there are times I believe in ghosts, especially after I watch a scary movie at night and need to navigate my way to my bed in the dark haha 🙂
3. If you were a ghost would you rather be always invisible to people or always visible and why?
100% I would love to be always visible. I would scare the shit out of everyone all the time!
4. If you ruled the world, who would you want to be your second-in-command and why?
My best #2 would be someone like Julius Ceaser, he had a lot of great traits that complement mine. He is known for never being defeated in a battle, this brings out my competitive side; for those who know me .. I HATE loosing.
5. What upcoming material do you have coming up?
I really like to interact with my fan base by releasing bootlegs and mashups frequently, so you can expect a lot more of those throughout the year. Also, I have really focused on pushing out a lot more originals for 2014/2015 , so fans of my music can expect a lot more Joe Ghost music in the near future, with some surprising collaborations I can’t really talk about yet.
6. Your track for Dim Mak is called “LIBG” or “Lose It Baby Go”. Where would be the last place you would want someone to play this song and why?
I am thinking of something witty and clever to say with this, but in a DJ world all that keeps coming to my head is that the last place I would want someone to play this is right before one of my sets at a show.
7. When is the best time to listen to dance music and why?
Dance music is so amazing because there is so many different forms of it. Dance music plays an integral part in my day. I first wake up listening to deep house while I make my breakfast and get ready. Then as the day progresses I turn to Tech House vibes to keep me going , later on in the evening its all about big room tunes that get me energetic, and then right before I call it a night I turn back to some deep house to chill out.
8. Would you rather play a gig in the middle of the Amazon, or in the middle of the Arctic, and why?
I recently played a festival in Canada called the BRRRRR Festival, this took place outside in the middle of the winter. Any Canadians know that this years winter could have been compared to the Arctic haha. It was a surreal experiance with the massive crowd fully bundled in their winter gear but raging still like it was a summer festival. I loved the atmosphere that was created with the big festival style production and harsh winter elements combined. Eventhough my fingertips froze I would 100% do it again.
9. What is one song you could not do without in life?
Wow! that is such a hard question. I have so many go-to songs that I have had for years for different moments either happy or sad. I love music, so it would be like asking me to tell you which one of my family members I love the most.
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