meta-scriptChromeo On Their New Album 'Adult Contemporary,' Taking Risks And 30 Years Of Friendship |
David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel from Chromeo
Patrick Gemayel and David Macklovitch of Chromeo

Photo: Alexander Gay


Chromeo On Their New Album 'Adult Contemporary,' Taking Risks And 30 Years Of Friendship

"We're in a little bit of our Steely Dan double-breasted suits era," Chromeo's David Macklovitch says of their sophisticated new album. Ahead of 'Adult Contemporary,' Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel spoke about developing sophisticated dance music.

GRAMMYs/Feb 15, 2024 - 07:27 pm

Dave 1 and P-Thugg —  the dapper duo best known for their modern funk project, Chromeo — have been friends their entire adult lives. The bond that has deepened over the past 30 years shines on their latest venture, Adult Contemporary.

Out Feb. 16, Adult Contemporary explores  maturity through the lens of relationships — including their own. The duo wrote, produced, performed, and arranged every song on the album, which blends funky beats with cheeky lyrics.

But before they became Dave 1 and P-Thugg, David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel were a couple of skaters in Montreal making hip-hop in the '90s. In the decades since, they've garnered GRAMMY nominations for their album Head Over Heels and worked with A-list artists like D.R.A.M., Toro y Moi, and French Montana, while traveling the world. 

As Chromeo, the duo's subtle yet efficacious humor — as well as their history of collectively riding the highs and lows life throws at them, as only close friends could — is reflected throughout their discography. Adult Contemporary is no exception: On the glitzy disco tune, "BTS," Macklovitch proudly sings, "Sometimes rest can be better than sex."

"The challenge for us is taking music that's made for the dance floor, but trying to infuse some sophistication and intelligence in it," Macklovitch reflects. "There was a lot of sophistication in the arrangements on this album. We're in a little bit of our Steely Dan double-breasted suits era."

Their evolution from teenage friends to synth icons reflects a journey enriched by lasting camaraderie and musical innovation. 

"The music is as hungry and as raw as the first album, with, of course, the added value of everything we've learned in the last 20 years," Gemayel continues.

Read on to discover what the duo shared with on their enduring partnership, navigating the music scene, and their vibrant approach to life and art.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

*Why did you title this album Adult Contemporary?*

Macklovitch: This one is called Adult Contemporary because of two things. It's very lyrically cohesive. All the songs in general talk about mature relationships and different facets of mature relationships. From commitments to codependency to insomnia to ambiguousness to breakups with "Personal Effects," and so on. 

Also, it's been 20 years since we put out our first album. So we're definitely in the adult period of our career. And also we really find the phrase "Adult Contemporary" hilarious 'cause it's a nod to the worst genre of music, but also, maybe the best, or the funniest one. We always felt it could have been the title of a men's magazine, or an erotic magazine in the seventies 'cause of "adult." 

And so that play of like adult contemporary, aka really mushy, and kind of sappy… but also adult contemporary, like edgy and adults only. We thought it was a very Chromeo kind of contrast. It works on many levels. 

Also, our favorite Hall And Oates song is "Adult Education." There’s always a nod.

Given you guys have been "adults" in terms of age for a while now, what makes this album more adult compared to others?

Gemayel: I don't know if it's an adult album. The subjects on this album are mature and adult, but the music goes back to our first two records. 

We get asked about [longevity] a lot. How do you keep your career going for so long? How do you keep the friendship going so long? How do you keep a duo going for so long? We're at a stage where these subjects are now in our repertoire and our vocabulary, but our hunger and our desire to keep making music is still the same as day one. 

Macklovitch: We went back to the raw feel of the Fancy Footwork era. Also, our last two albums were more collaborative. This is one where P. and I did basically everything. We had other people play on the record, but we wrote and produced everything ourselves. But then we were able to inject a lot of the experience that we've acquired along the way. 

After 30 years of friendship, what has it been like to become adults alongside one another?

Macklovitch: We were at each other's eighteenth birthdays. We were at each other's thirtieth birthdays. We went through so many pivotal moments of life together. I remember when I applied to grad schools, and P's the one who drove me to the different post offices in New York City to drop off my applications. 

We went to the GRAMMYs together. We went to the JUNOS in Canada together. Most of the countries we've been to, we visited them together for the first time. 

Gemayel: Yeah pivotal moments. Every record we do is a pivotal moment. Us meeting is a pivotal moment. That's what keeps us together, going strong, and still wanting to release records. 

There's something new every day. Every day there's a pivotal moment. Yes, of course, I remember the day Dave moved out of Montreal to go to Columbia. I helped him move, and we did the road trip together. Or the time we got arrested in the car going to Florida. There's a lot. But for me, it's a continuation. It's an accumulation of pivotal moments. 

It's not measured by the birthday parties or the album releases. Every day offers that same experience of "I'm glad you're my best friend."

Macklovitch: That’s a great way to say it. Another thing about the adult theme of the album is that there's been this fixation on youth for the last five or six years. There are all these really funny viral TikToks of Gen Z kids being ageist on purpose, which I find hilarious. 

But everybody agrees. Youth is dumb. 

Your youth was miserable. My youth was miserable. Youth is dumb. Youth is the worst time. What was happening culturally in the last few years is that you had all these like adult corporations or business interests or cultural movements fixating on kids. And it's absurd. It's supposed to be the other way around. 

When you were a kid, you were looking up to people. You're looking up to your older brothers, your older brother's friends. You were looking up to an older skater, or you're looking up to Nas, or you're looking up to a rock band. These are your north stars. These are your guiding lights, and it shouldn't be the other way around. 

Who was the best moment of the GRAMMYs? Tracy Chapman, and, by the way, the Gen Z kids will be the first ones to say that. "Oh, my God! Iconic" Tracy Chapman. Joni Mitchell. Annie Lennox. They stole the show. 

Kids need OGs to look up to. Look at Miley Cyrus. She's 31. She's at the top of her game. She's had the best song of her career: "Flowers" is the only song I really love of hers. That one transcends, and it goes into this universal, timeless category.

Gemayel: Killer Mike is our age, and he was out and proud. "Don't tell me I'm too old."

Macklovitch: This is the Zeitgeist, my friends.

Why did you veer away from making everything yourselves for the last two albums? And then what brought you back?

Macklovitch: Every album we make is a reaction to the previous album. It's almost like having a conversation with your own body of work. When we did White Women, we had never collaborated with anybody, and we wanted to expand the sound, expand the circle, and try other features. It was super exciting, and that did really well. 

Then we went into Head Over Heels. Truth be told, We had a really nice album budget. So we were like, "Let's go, Rolls Royce. Let's get all these big [people]." 

We moved to LA to make it. We did this expensive Los Angeles album. We had heard so much about the LA session writer/producer world. We were curious because we're just two little dorks from Montreal by way of New York. 

We've done everything by ourselves our whole life. We wanna know how the sausage is made. So we went and saw that, and It was cool. We learned so much. We made great friendships, and we were able to fulfill our dreams like having The-Dream on a song. 

But then, once that's done, and then the pandemic starts and P and I are together, we're like, "You know what? Let's go back to the essence." We don't wanna be with anybody in a room. Not because they're gonna give us Covid. We gotta go back to quality time. The two of us. 

Gemayel: Like Dave said, every album is a reaction to our previous album. But it's a reaction to our full career. We're filling the gaps. And that's again, longevity. "How do you keep this exciting?" You always look back and be like, "We did this. We did this. We did that." We don't rest on our laurels. We still have something to prove. How do we complete this narrative of the Chromeo career that we hope is gonna last until we're in the hospital making beats in a bed?

What was it like taking the experience you had in L.A. with Head Over Heels back to the more internal process of making Adult Contemporary?

Gemayel: It's great. It's amazing. We're collecting tools as we go in our career. Music, vocabulary, tricks. Expand our vocabulary all the time. We started collecting records, figuring out how songs are made, what funk music is, how to dissect it, how to study it. We just keep collecting stuff along the way. 

Macklovitch: I think it helped the lyrical consistency of the album, too. When you write with other people there are five people in a room that have to sign off on every lyric. So I think when I was bringing lyrics to P on this album, we were really editing them together. 

A lot of our songs could get too cringy. It could get too Weird Al Yankovic. You really have to ride the line. It's much harder to do that than to write sad boy music. So P and I go through the lyrics, and we parse the lyrics together, and we take out the stuff that looks like it's too overthought.

I think working with other people and having that high standard in rooms with like five or six people with strong opinions — It helped our dynamic as well. 

The one guest artist on the album is La Roux who sang on "Replacements." What is it like to work with her? Also, I heard an instance where it sounds like you interpolated the vocal melody from her song "I’m Not Your Toy," into "I Don’t Need A New Girl." How did working with her influence the album beyond her vocal feature?

Macklovitch: It's great to work with her. She's super opinionated. She's a very thorough perfectionist. We've had a 15-year friendship with her. 

Last year she came out at Coachella, and we did a funk version of "Bulletproof." But then people liked it so much that we had to release it. 

We make the collaboration really organic and multi-faceted. So when you say that you hear her in other bits of the album, it's really cool. I didn't even have "I'm Not Your Toy" in mind, but it's real when the listener hears it. Not necessarily when the author thinks about it. 

So the fact that you hear it makes it valid. Doesn't matter if we thought about it or not. Cause who knows? Who knows what’s within my subconscious? Maybe it was there somewhere.

It’s like the tree falling in the woods philosophical exercise. It becomes real when someone else acknowledges it. 

Macklovitch: Music is a listener-oriented discipline. When we play live, people ask us, "Yo, you must be so excited." We always answer we're excited, but we're only excited if the crowd’s having a good time. It's really about you guys.

When P and I play a show we're like two chefs. The restaurant is packed. The stakes are high. There are a couple of Bon Appétit journalists in the room. We're stressed. We want to give you the best meal that we can give you. 

So you're asking us if we're excited. Do you go into the kitchen and be like, "Hey, chef! Are you excited?" They’ll be like "Can't talk. Busy." That's how we play a show. It's about you. It's not about us, and if you've had a great time at the show, then we can kick back after the show. We did our job.

Two strong themes from this album are gratitude and contentment. How did the gratitude and the contentment that you feel around your friendship fuel this album?

Gemayel: It's a little bit like I said before. We find pivotal moments every day. Whether you’re closing a show, doing accounting, thinking about the stage setup and how we can afford it. Or thinking about new ideas for songs, demos, patch sounds, melodies. Every moment that you get to work towards a goal is a great moment for me. 

It's in the continuum. I think that not resting on your laurels is the Chromeo motto. Never do that. So how you stay focused is you enjoy every little bit of annoying and fun moments of your career. 

Macklovitch: There are a lot of tribulations that we go through that allow us to always stay humble and never take things for granted. It always keeps us hungry. 

We always wanted to have a GRAMMY nomination. We got a GRAMMY nomination, but it's like for the nerdiest category — Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical — which actually suits us so well. But, of course, we're against Beck. Of course we didn't win the GRAMMY. So now we gotta get another one. 

Or we'll play a show that's like this triumphant show and we feel amazing. We're on the high. Then we gotta go do a corporate DJ set. You're lucky when you have those, but it might be like the Christmas lunch party for some company somewhere, and it's super awkward. 

For every success, there's always a really funny episode that grounds us. That keeps us hungry all the time.

Gemayel: The way our music is made gives you an insight into how we survive for that long. You put humor into everything. So I sometimes prefer the bad moments because we just end up laughing and making a thing out of it. You just gotta roll with the punches. That's what having a good partner is all about.

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Nicky Jam composite Ty Moy Kayf

Nicky Jam, French Montana, Dzharo, and Khanza


Listen To Nicky Jam & French Montana Remix Dzharo & Khanza's Infectious "Ty Moy Kayf"

Today, Russian duo Dzharo & Khanza's track only gets more explosive with a remix featuring Latin music heavy-hitter Nicky Jam and hit-making rapper French Montana

GRAMMYs/Apr 7, 2021 - 09:00 pm

A year ago, Russian duo Dzharo & Khanza released their video for "Ty Moy Kayf," a dembow-inspired track about their love for women that has now reached over 100 million views on YouTube.

Today, that track only gets more explosive with a remix featuring Latin music heavy-hitter Nicky Jam and hit-making rapper French Montana. 

"I was already a fan of the record so when the guys reached out for me to jump on the remix, it was only right!" Montana told over email. "It feels great to come together with my international brothers to create global music for our fans. Music breaks all barriers and brings us all together," he said. 

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Nicky Jam agrees: "It feels amazing. I love that we’re bringing all these cultures together and making something even bigger than us."

Jam told the production happened virtually. He knew he was hooked to the song the first time he heard it. "It’s so catchy that you just wanna keep jamming to it," he said. "After the song became a viral sensation, we realized that Spanish-speaking people were calling it “inmortal” because of how similar it sounded to 'Ty Moy Kaif' and that’s kinda how the idea came to be."

In terms of adding his Latin touch on a Russian song, which gained popularity in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, Jam knows it will only elevate Latin music. "Music has no limits, and I think we’re continuing to prove that with this track," he said. 

Watch the video above to hear the remix, and read more about the song as well as Dzharo & Khanza in their email interview with below.
What’s the inspiration behind this track?
Each track we have written is a reflection of ourselves, our mood and experiences in our personal and public life. We just intended to compose the track about our favorite women. A word “kayf” that means “pleasure” or “high” seemed to be the best to describe all feelings and emotions to our beloved ones. We made a successful attempt to delineate their entire roles in our lives. It turned out that each listener found something personal in the track and associated that with love. 
How do you feel about Nicky Jam and French Montana getting on your track?
The initiators of the collaboration was the A+ team–the Russian label. We’d got a lot of collaboration offers but we dreamt of the Latin version of the track. A+ teamed up with Sony U.S. Latin, and they proposed Nicky Jam to participate. Some moments later French Montana also joined this amazing track. The guys have given a second wind into that so the track has become even better. We were very pleased with the final result and couldn’t wait till the release–that must be a hit. 
How do you feel about the love this song has received in Mexico and other parts of Latin America?
We’ve already gained some success & respect in the Russian-speaking countries but we’ve never expected how great could be the success of our track outside Russia. The Latin audience is incredible, the Latin and Russian listeners have a lot in common in being passionate about the things that fascinate them. [Latinos] live to dance [and they] brought the track to the new level on TikTok, [which] actually raised the initial interest to the song. We couldn’t believe our eyes when "Ty Moy Kayf" started hitting Latin Shazam charts.        
Do you wish to take Russian music globally?  
That would be great to do, and we feel excited to be a part of that! Russian music is really promising. There are a lot of talented people all over the county. I bet Russian music can [earn a] place in the hearts of the global listeners as it’s always about the soul and the feelings which are the basis of every song. Not many Russian artists are well-known, for example in the USA, and we’ll be happy if anybody starts exploring Russian modern culture after listening to "You’re My High" track.

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Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images


Find Out Who Has The Most GRAMMY Nominations, Which Categories Are All-Female & More: 2021 GRAMMYs By The Numbers

For the first time in the history of the GRAMMY Awards, every nominee for Best Rock Performance and Best Country Album is a woman or a group fronted by a woman

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2020 - 12:01 am

Now that the 2021 GRAMMY nominees have been revealed, let's take a look deeper across the categories to see which artists fared the best, who some of the first-time nominees are, who made history and more.

Beyoncé leads the pack this year with nine nominations, followed by Dua Lipa, Roddy Ricch and Taylor Swift, all tied at six nods. Brittany Howard follows with five nominations, with Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish, DaBaby, Phoebe Bridgers, Justin Bieber, John Beasley and David Frost all tied with four nods.

As for Queen Bey, her nine 63rd GRAMMY Awards nods bring her total number of career nominations to 79, making her the most-nominated female in GRAMMY history. She is now tied with Paul McCartney as the second most-nominated artist of all time, only behind her husband JAY-Z (who received three nods himself this year) and legendary producer Quincy Jones, who both have 80 career nominations.

The pop/R&B icon has won 24 GRAMMYs to date, and if she wins at least four of her nine nominations, she will become the female artist with the most GRAMMY wins. If she wins eight or nine, she will be the highest number of GRAMMY wins of all time.

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Both Stallion and Bridgers are first-time GRAMMY nominees and are in the running for Best New Artist. The Houston rapper's other three nominations come from her "Savage Remix" featuring Beyoncé, which is up for Record Of The Year, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. The Los Angeles alt-rocker's other nods are for her sophomore solo album, Punisher, which is up for Best Alternative Music Album, and its second single "Kyoto," up for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.

Notably, all nominees in the Best New Artist category are female and/or people of color—Stallion and Bridgers' fellow talented contenders are Ingrid Andress, Chika, Noah Cyrus, D Smoke, Doja Cat and KAYTRANADA. All of them are also first-time nominees.

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Other 2021 first-time nominees include BTS, Harry Styles, the Strokes, Poppy, Jayda G, Arca, Baauer, Madeon and Toro Y Moi, the latter five who are nominated in the dance/electronic categories.

For the first time in the history of the GRAMMY Awards, every nominee for both Best Rock Performance and Best Country Album is a woman or a group fronted by a woman. The nominees for the former are Andress, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde and the group Little Big Town. For Best Rock Performance, the contenders are Fiona Apple, Bridgers, Brittany Howard, Grace Potter, sister trio HAIM and group Big Thief.

More entries than ever before were submitted for 2021 GRAMMY consideration, totaling 23,207.

Stay tuned to and our social channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) for more 2021 GRAMMYs content, and tune in to the 63rd GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, March 14, on CBS to find out who the winners will be!

2021 GRAMMYs: Complete Nominees List

Willaris. K at Shangri-La

Willaris. K at Shangri-La

Photo: courtesy of artist


Record Store Recs: Willaris. K Finds The Experimental Beats In Melbourne

For the latest Record Store Recs, the Aussie left-field producer gives us a look into some of the alternative electronic/ambient music that inspires him to produce as well as some great spots to find these sorts of records in his home of Melbourne

GRAMMYs/Aug 21, 2020 - 05:18 am

With the unprecedented global disruption of 2020, it's important to support the music community however we can. With our series Record Store Recs, checks in with vinyl-loving artists to learn more about their favorite record stores and the gems they've found there.

Australian ambient house/techno DJ/producer Willaris. K (born Jack McAllister) has a sound that is ever-morphing and hard to define, but is firmly planted in the electronic underground. With his unrelenting four-track EP Full Noise, dropped in July on dance giant Astralwerks, he brought a speaker-rattling warehouse party straight to our living rooms.

The banger was already his second EP of 2020, preceded by LUSTRE, a moody six-track journey moving through deep house, ambient, experimental electronica and more. Both come just two years since he made waves in the Melbourne electronic scene and beyond with his 2018 debut album, Alchemy.

In June, he delivered a trippy, clubby remix of (GRAMMY-winnner) Flume and Toro y Moi's huge (it was featured in an Apple Air Pods ad!) single, "The Difference," adding more grooves into the fellow Aussie's already textured, colorful production.

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Today, "Chapel," the driving Full Noise track (written in Rick Rubin's famous Shangri-La studios) featuring Virginia rapper/sound designer WaveIQ, gets the remix treatment from GRAMMY-nominated German industrial house DJ/producer/master remixer Boys Noize. That living room rave just got louder.

For the latest Record Store Recs, McAllister gives us a look into some of the alternative electronic/ambient music that inspires him to produce, as well as some great spots to find these sorts of records in his home of Melbourne.

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Please pick three to five records stores you love.

Skydiver in Melbourne, Aus. 

Hub 301 in Melbourne

Plug Seven Records in Melbourne

Why do you love these shops and what kind of goodies have you found there?

All three shops are within walking distance from my house in Melbourne which is a bonus. Unfortunately, with the current lockdown in Victoria, I think they're all closed but doing online orders. At these stores, I've found inspiring music I'd never heard before, especially ambient stuff, which I find always makes me want to make music.

Modern Bliss by Roza Terenzi

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For at least one of your favorite shops, share a recent record or two (or more!) you bought there, and what you love about the record/artist.

I'm currently not at my house in Melbourne due to the lockdown so I don't have access to my records, but my most recent purchase was Modern Bliss by [Australian producer] Roza Terenzi [2020] which is amazing. Really tight production and an interesting approach to dance music. Also Yeo-Neun by [experimental South Korean cellist/composer] Okkyung Lee [2020] is a special ambient record that I bought a few months back. It's one of those that inspires me to want to make music.

What's an upcoming/recent release you have your eyes on picking up & why?

I'm keen to hear the new Rival Consoles' album [Articulation, released July 31]. His production and songwriting are always so unique. 

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When crate-digging, how do you pick out records? For example, is it the cover that grabs you, or do you shop for specific artists?

With music being so readily available in 2020, I'm usually looking for things I haven't heard before because it's a small pocket that exists where you can't get it anywhere else sometimes.

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Photo: Jacob Lindell


Bearcubs Talks 'Early Hours,' Berlin, Art As A Platform For Change & Scoring His First Film

The British singer/producer also talks how about discovering Flying Lotus inspired him to produce electronic music, writing "Everyplace Is Life" on a train and the biggest thing he's learned during quarantine

GRAMMYs/Aug 7, 2020 - 11:39 pm

Laid back, curious and easy to chat with, U.K.-born, Berlin-based electro-chill artist Bearcubs, a.k.a. Jack Ritchie, embodies the relaxed, bubbly music he makes. Growing up playing drums, piano and guitar, he started producing chillwave-leaning electronic tracks in his final year of college in 2012, posting them to SoundCloud during that golden age of bedroom producers.

His second EP, 2017's Underwaterfall, featured steel drums, water drips and enchanting moody soundscapes and saw major outlets comparing him to James Blake and Jamie XX. Not long after, in 2018, he moved from his longtime home of London to Berlin, released his debut album, Ultraviolet, and scored his first film.

This May, while quarantining in Berlin, Ritchie released his sophomore album, Early Hours, 10 tracks of effervescent, cloud-watching daydreams inspired by memories from his final months in London and first year in Berlin.

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Watch: James Blake On 'Assume Form' Collabs: "A Dream Come True" | GRAMMY Museum caught up with the British artist to chat about his latest album, moving to Berlin, scoring for film and learning to limit screen time during quarantine. Ritchie also shares how discovering Flying Lotus in college inspired him to produce electronic music, how he believes art as a major platform for social change and more.

You recently released your sophomore album, Early Hours. How are you feeling about sharing this project, and what was your main goal with it?

I'm pretty excited to share it, to be honest. Before I put these three singles out, I hadn't really released any of my music in about over a year and a half. So I took quite a long pause between previous projects and this one, just because I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do. And I did a film score, which took up a big chunk of time. I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do musically. Also, when I moved to Berlin, it was a bit of a growing point in my life, because I was living in London for years before then and was leaving some of my friends and family behind.

I wanted to use the album a bit to sum up my past three or four years living in London and the experiences I had there, going out and working in pubs and living with a bunch of mates from home. All of this stuff, I just wanted to get this feeling into the album. Maybe a little bit nostalgic, yeah. I didn't want to go into that too much because I think you can overindulge nostalgia. It's a kind of bridge between my life in London a few years ago and then moving to Berlin and meeting new people and getting to terms with that whole situation.

That's so cool. When did you move to Berlin?

It was just about two years ago now, August of 2018.

Do you like Berlin?

It feels like home now. I love it. It's such a chill place to live. I was coming here on holiday and I realized I was coming here more and more often. It was every six months, then every three months, then every few weeks, and then it was like, "I might as well just live here." For me, it's got such a chill and kind of impossible feeling. And there's lots of interesting creative stuff going on. It's quite a 24-hour city. All of those kinds of things made me want to be here.

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Last year, you scored the German film Relativity. How was the creative process for that project different than with Bearcubs, and is scoring something you'd like to do more of?

I was a bit nervous actually, because I've never done a film score before. But it was one of those things I just couldn't say no to it because it was too much of an opportunity. And it was a real challenge, but it was a lot of fun, because I'm used to working within I guess what you'd call a pop writing structure, with five-minute songs. To work with a film score, I had to think about things in terms of 15, 20 minutes and moments happening in the music—things have to become intense and then the music has to fade into the background and not interfere.

It was definitely a different process. The way I started most of the music for the score was I got a rough cut of the film and then I just sat with the piano and watched some of the main scenes. I sketched out the idea of what the mood would be on the piano and tried to get some of the timing right. And I had a lot of contact with the director, Mariko Minoguchi. It was basically a collaboration with me and her because it was her first film as well, so I was like her baby. And I think she entrusted me to make the music because she thought I could do something a bit different and interesting with it as opposed to going with a hardcore experienced composer.

When I went to Munich, she took me through a lot of the story and broke down what she wanted the motives of the characters to be and stuff. I made a lot of music that I sent to them where they were like, "No, that's not quite right." We did a lot of back and forth until we got to a good place. It was really fun to do.

How do you feel like moving to Berlin has influenced your art and/or creative process?

Well, it definitely just gave me a bit of time—for some reason, here compared to London, it feels a bit more relaxed and less hustle-y. Even though it's good to hustle sometimes because it drives you to do you stuff, in Berlin, I feel like there's a little less competition and it's more like people boosting each other up, like a community thing. I've definitely been influenced by that, as well as by the people who I've met.

I've met a lot of really cool, interesting artists here. One of the first collaborations I did when I got here was with a producer and a friend of mine, narou. Literally the first stuff we did, we ended up making "Overthinking," which was the first single on my new album. So yeah, I've done collaborations with people here and the vibe of the city and the people I've met have influenced me.

I feel like being in a new place can really do that. How long did you live in London? Or is that where you grew up?

I feel like I've always lived in London even though I didn't, because my hometown is just above London, about 20 minutes away. It's a smaller town called St Albans. It's quite a nice place. Growing up, I was always going into London, and later I lived in various places in London, for about six years in East London and Tottenham. I mean, I love London, but I felt like it was time for a change. I wanted to mix it up a bit. Especially since coming here to Berlin, I've felt new surroundings is always good for creativity and giving you new ideas.

You shared that you wrote the lyrics for one of the lead singles, "Everyplace is Life," while on a train in the U.K. Can you tell us more about that moment that inspired the song, as well as the creative journey that led to the finished product?

I often do this thing of making loads of notes in my phone. Sometimes it's just a word, literally, or I see a book title and I write that down, or a little stupid poem or something like that. I kind of use it as my little second brain that I can go back to. For "Everyplace is Life," I think it was a couple of summers back, I was on the train down to Brighton to play the Great Escape festival. And I don't know, it was just one of those days when you're in a really [good mood] and everything's just wonderful.

It was kind of that. I was in a good mood, and it was that thing when you're on public transport and you look around and you see everyone else—sometimes you forget that everyone else has got their own life, and there's all these stories. And you're like, "I wonder where that person's going. I wonder what they're doing." And you kind of imagine these stories about everyone's lives. It is kind of about that, about those little moments in life. And about slowing down and appreciating little moments, whether they're good or bad at the time, they're all kind of meaningful.

I love that. You said you wrote the lyrics a few years ago, right? And then when did you pick it up and create the beat and the melody?

Yeah. I can't remember exactly [when I revisited it]. I think it was maybe six months ago. I don't quite know what made me do it, but I was like, "Oh, I've got a song that I wrote a while back. I still haven't used it." And I remembered the feeling when I wrote the lyrics and just started from that and started making the beat and the chords. My influence for the track was the Little Dragon song "Ritual Union." I've never heard a track before that's very constant all throughout. The beat keeps going and it's very driving and repetitive, and I wanted to make a song like that, that kept going and didn't really stop. "Everyplace is Life" is me trying to do that, because the beat and everything is relentless through, and then the lyrics are the thing on the top that give the changes and make it interesting.

And then for the album overall, about how long was the process?

Yeah, it was maybe spread across a period of a couple of years, but I'd say in total it was probably only seven months of doing it. I wrote a couple of the tracks a couple of years ago, "Everyplace is Life" and "Diversions." And then I moved to Berlin and spent six months doing the soundtrack, so that took up all my time. After that, as I'd had a while off from making my music, I desperately needed to make something.

Basically, the whole of the rest of the album came in about a period of a few months. It came in a flurry. After that, it was choosing the tracks and refining them, and all of the boring technical stuff at the end. But yeah, it wasn't actually very long. It all came together at the end. I was just looking back at stuff over the past few years, and mixing that with the experiences I've had sincemoving to Berlin.

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You launched the Early Hours podcast this year. What is your vision for it and what did it feel like to step out of your "comfort zone," like you said when you shared it, in that way?

Yeah, it was definitely something out of the box for me. I'd never done anything like that before, so it was a nice thing to do. Whenever I do something that I'm a little bit nervous of doing or I wouldn't usually do, I always feel like I get something more out of it. Once we started, it felt really easy. Especially because I was with narou and another friend James Hersey, who's a singer and also based in Berlin. It was kind of like hanging out with your mates, talking about music, which is kind of what I wanted the vibe of the podcast to be. 

I think in the future, I want to make it a bit more centered around having a record player in the middle of the room and everyone brings in a vinyl. When I was at uni, I had a record player and I'd go to the record shop with my housemate and we'd buy a record and then put it on and drink a cup of tea and listen to a whole vinyl. And just look at the front and back covers and the lyrics on the inner sleeve. I feel like that's kind of lost from streaming stuff online. That's my future vision for the podcast. It's kind of something which enables you to slow down and listen to music and chat about it in a relaxed way. Who knows what's going to happen with it, we'll see.

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When did you first start making music? And at what point did you think it was something that you wanted to do professionally?

I mean, I've kind of been making music most of my life. I started pretty young playing drums, at seven. And then piano and guitar, and in my teenage years, I was in quite a lot of bands. I played guitar in a funk band and I was in a '90s hip-hop band playing bass. I played in some hardcore punk bands as well. I didn't really get into electronic stuff until I was at university, because I did digital music and sound arts. I got introduced to electronic music by people who were in my course and I was going to university with.

That opened my mind up to electronic and dance music, because don't think I really respected it fully before. I was always into hip-hop and some electronic stuff like Prodigy and bands like that, but I was never really fully into it. But when I heard some of these producers, especially the early beat scene people like Flying Lotus, the way they make their beats, you can't tell what's going on. You're like, "How on earth have they made this?" I think that's what made me want to start producing. Now I've become a bit more jaded I guess, because I know how things are made and I've got my producer's ear a bit more, but if I don't know how some things were made, that really excites me.

I started putting stuff up on SoundCloud and getting a bit of a following, somehow. I got a paid remix, and I was like, "Oh my God. Someone's paying me to make music." That's what made me think, "Oh, I could do this professionally as well." So I started devoting more and more time to it. Before then, I might have made one song every six months, and now I'm trying to make one song every day almost.

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I always love hearing about the evolution of the music that someone is into. When you started university, what did you envision you would be doing at the end of it?

I don't think I really knew. I kind of went to university for the sake of it. I didn't know what to do. I was into music, but I was also not really sure what I wanted to do musically. When I was 17, I wanted to be a guitarist. But after uni, I kind of stopped playing guitar and was way more focused on electronic stuff. I think I was just exploring and figuring things out. And then when I did start making more electronic stuff and when I started the Bearcubs project, then I felt like I had more of a goal of like, "Okay, this can go forward and can go somewhere."

Who was the first remix you did for?

It was a weird indie duo from the U.K. Their label got in contact with me and asked, "Do you want to do a remix?" And I was like, "Yeah, definitely."

And it was because of the music that you had put out yourself on SoundCloud?

Yeah, exactly. It was just people finding me through my SoundCloud stuff, which I was amazed about, like, "How have you found me?"

Do you remember when you put your first song up on SoundCloud?

It would have been 2012, the year I was leaving university. Yeah, it was kind of dumb, I only really got into electronic music when I was leaving the electronic music course. That's the way it was. It was a track called "Measures," I think, and it had a "Breaking Bad" sample in it. I hadn't even watched the show, but there was this awesome vocal sample where he's like, "You either take a half measure or you go the whole way," or something like that. I guess it was like chill wave. I was listening to stuff like Toro y Moi and Flying Lotus and Baths.

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What do you feel like is the biggest thing you've learned about yourself during quarantine?

That's quite a good one. I think I was getting way too much screen time before. I realized I was waking up, looking at my phone, then having breakfast, then working on my laptop all day, while looking at my phone in between when I was taking breaks on my lunch. Then having dinner and going back on my phone, and watching Netflix or films and stuff. So I'd literally spend my whole day on a screen. I don't know why quarantine taught me that, but I think it's because I was indoors so much that it just became more realistic to be [on] the screen so much.

Now I have a policy where I don't check my phone until like 10 or 11 in the morning, once I've got up and done everything. I've been trying to look at my phone less and read more and not be on the computer as much.

How do you think music and art can bring about social change?

I think the power of music and other art forms is that it can sum up a mood of a time or generation in such a subtle but precise way. It's such a powerful platform for change and rebellion because everyone in the world is consuming culture on a day-to-day basis. We are all affected by the events going on around us even if we don't realize it consciously. As artists, this manifests itself through what we create, and as people through what we want to see and hear. It resonates with our current mood and sense of place in the world. The '60s was such a big period of change in women's and Black people's rights as well as freedoms and the opposition to power structures—the culture, fashion, music and the ideas of peace and love were completely reflected in that and tied together with the political message.

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In your opinion, how can the music community contribute to dismantling racism?

I think now it's about going above and beyond to support and boost up Black artists. It's disappointing that the music industry has benefitted from Black music without acknowledging its culture. It's about checking our privilege and becoming aware of how we perceive Black and non-Black music; making space and giving Black artists a voice across the music industry; demanding more diverse festival and gig bookings; and making more of an effort as artists to collaborate with and lift up our Black brothers and sisters. In an ideal world, we would embrace all colors and races, but the level of inequality and racism now is so ingrained in our societies that we must face this and make conscious efforts every day to change it.

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