THE KNOCKS Takes Tokyo

October 11, 2015 11:00 AM

Recently, electro-pop duo, The Knocks, visited Japan to perform in the ARC+TWELV party at ARC, a newly opened venue in Tokyo. We had a chance to chat with the two masterminds (and friends) behind The Knocks, Sway and Ben, about their inspirations, influences as well as their plans for the future. Check out the interview, and take a peek at The Knocks’ photo diary from their trip to Tokyo, where they had the opportunity to experience Japanese culture and values. 

 

 

 

-------------------- SWAY’s INTERVIEW --------------------

 

1. Most refer to "The Knocks" as electropop and dance-rock, but how would you two best describe your collective sound?

SWAY: Our sound is a fusion of influences so to me there isn't one specific genre or description that sums it up perfectly. It's definitely fun music to dance to tho. That's the main goal.

 

2. What inspired you to start working together? Proximity? Convenience? Passion?

Sort of all three. We were living together and both loved making beats so there was proximity, convenience and passion from the get go. Once we discovered that working together was easy for us we just kept doing it, and we're still doing it.

 

3. You two were initially make tracks for big names, and now you're funneling your creativity into your own music. What has this transition as producers been like? 

Hmm, that's kind of a myth that has been running in the press about us for a while. I'm not sure where it started, but we never made tracks for Rihanna or Flo-Rida. We TIRED like millions of other producers, and came close a few times, but never actually landed anything solid. Making music for other   people is cool, but in those situations it's really static and basically you're being told to regurgitate whatever is currently popular in order to maybe land whoever's next big single. 100% of the time that single ends up being produced by a Dr. Luke or one of those big go to guys. It's frustrating and also I don't like being told what to do especially with my art so the transition into making our own stuff was easy and necessary for me. Everything is sort of coming full circle because now those same people come to us and ask us for stuff that sounds like the Knocks. So it's like an "in yo face" to the music industry feeling for us which is tite.

 

4. According to other interviews, The Knocks is based in New York City. How much has the city influenced you? How would you describe the creative scene there?

I've lived in New York for 24 of the 28 years I have on earth so for me it's everything. Luckily we get to go to other places and experience things that make us realize how lucky we are to live in such a fantastic bubble. Being able to make that distinction is crucial as a pop music producer because you have to remember that most of the people you're making music for are not in that bubble. And then when we're producing our own stuff it's all about trying bringing that bubble and what we get out of it into the masses and not necessarily feeding people shit that they're used to. "Club culture", "nightlife", "the scene" whatever you wanna call it starts here and then fans out to everywhere else. We're at the forefront of a lot of trends, sometimes to our chagrin because we'll be up on something literally years before regular people get it and by the time it's actually popular we're over it and it's almost like we miss that wave in a way. Still feels good tho.

 

5. What's your ideal creative setting (do you like to drink coffee? do the lights have to be off? etc.) for working together?

In a basement surrounded by instruments and weed and tequila and fire anime.

 

6. What has inspired your music the most? People, places, things, feelings, politics, etc.? Explain why.

Everything inspires our music, that's why it's so hard to "genre-ize" it. I pull inspiration from every aspect of my life. As DJs we get to see what works and what doesn't on dance floors across the world so that helps us to narrow down or influences a bit, but as far as raw creation is concerned anything goes.

 

7. If you were to issue an artist statement for The Knocks, what would it be?

A lot of people assume that the grass is glowing bright neon green on this side of the fence because as artists we're much more free to do what we want, but there is a level of struggle to this just like there is with anything else. I would say there's even more struggle in being an artist because there is not that steady paycheck every Friday and you constantly have to be grinding to make sure you're relevant so that you can get that next gig. I would say to anyone with a passion for art to follow that passion, and know that there will be hard times, but you have to think of it like this: I would rather struggle and love myself and what I do rather than to struggle and hate myself every single day because I work some lame whatever job that I really don't dig. It's your life, don't let someone else tell you how to live it.

 

8. What were your childhood dreams? Did you think you two were going to be producers?

Yes. 100%...I just knew I never wanted to work for anyone else because I like doing my own thing and hate being ordered around. Fuck bosses.

 

9. What are you trying to accomplish through music?

When you read or watch the news you realize how fucked up people are. It makes you feel awful. I want our music to counteract those feelings and to be an uplifting source for our fans. So I guess we're trying to make the world a better place, even if it's slightly.

 

10. You've been touring a lot. Is this in preparation for an album or EP release? What can fans expect from The Knocks over the next couple of months? 

We actually haven't been touring that much at all this year. We took a break to get our label situation in order and then to finish our album which is finally done and will be coming out in the next few months. (I promise) So that is what you can expect from us along with some dance collabo singles and remixes. Basically just expect bigger and better music. Also we'll be back on the road heavy in 2016.

 

 

 

                    -------------------- BEN’s INTERVIEW --------------------

 

1. Most refer to "The Knocks" as electropop and dance-rock, but how would you two best describe your collective sound?

Ben: It’s hard to classify it as one genre because we use so many elements from so many different influences, but if you had to put an overall genre to it, i'd probably just call it pop.  We love catchy accessible music.  Our goal is to make pop but still have our credibility and bring something new to the genre. 

 

2. What inspired you to start working together? Proximity? Convenience? Passion?

At first we were friends and then became roomates, THEN collaborators. I think the fact that we both bring so many different things to the table and come from such different backgrounds is what makes it work so well.

 

3. You two were initially make tracks for big names, and now you're funneling your creativity into your own music. What has this transition as producers been like? 

It’s been great and we are really happy with the decision we made to step out of the writing/pitching world to do our own thing. It has definitely been a long and at times hard journey but in the long run has been worth it. Now that we have solidified a sound and made a name for ourselves with it, people are reaching out to us because they won’t something that is reminiscent of the "Knocks Sound" and not just looking for us to make a clone of the current top pop song.

 

4. According to other interviews, The Knocks is based in New York City. How much has the city influenced you? How would you describe the creative scene there?

It’s influenced immensely. We both came up DJing here as a means to pay rent which has given us a good ear for what works in crowds and what doesn’t. The energy of this city is also inspiring. Everyone here has a goal and is hustling and bustling to make it. It’s not for the faint at heart.  

 

5. What's your ideal creative setting (do you like to drink coffee? do the lights have to be off? etc.) for working together?

Usually starts with coffee and breakfast sandwiches and ends with marijuana or some whiskey (if we are happy with the end product).

 

6. What has inspired your music the most? People, places, things, feelings, politics, etc.? Explain why.

That’s a hard question to answer since we are really inspired by everything.  One thing that is probably most inspiring for me is seeing others react to the music you make.  Sometimes you gotta remember that you’re making music for people to listen and enjoy, although a lot of it is for self-satisfaction, at the end of the day it’s the entertainment industry and you want people to be entertained.  So when you see people freaking out or having a great time to your song, it’s a good feeling. 

 

7. If you were to issue an artist statement for The Knocks, what would it be?

Have fun and don’t take things too seriously. 

 

8. What were your childhood dreams? Did you think you two were going to be producers?

I’ve wanted to be a DJ/Producer since I was about 13 years old.  Before that I think I just wanted to be a pro skateboarder... but i got too scared to jump off big shit.

 

9. What are you trying to accomplish through music?

I want to make classics that are played at everything from weddings to clubs 20 years from now. 

 

10. You've been touring a lot. Is this in preparation for an album or EP release? What can fans expect from The Knocks over the next couple of months?

Our album will be out in the beginning of 2016. It’s been a long time coming but we are really excited and I think people are going to like it. Before that we have a couple new singles and collaborations on the way!

 

 

Find and enjoy more photos of "The Knocks in Tokyo" on TWELV Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1034830856573793.1073741860.258913457498874&type=3&uploaded=69

 

 

WRITTEN & INTERVIEWED BY: JANE CLAIRE HEYVEY

PHOTO CREDIT: DANIEL OGLANDER & BEN RUTTNER

 

 

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