EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: 5 Minutes With… Classixx
Los Angeles-based DJ and production duo Tyler Blake and Michael David have been bestowing their smooth blend of disco, new wave, funk, house, and indietronica onto the music scene since early 2008. Their collaborations include the likes of Groove Armada, Phoenix, Mayer Hawthorne and Major Lazer, and their latest album, Faraway Reach, has garnered great reviews, with critics calling it “blissed-out and breezy” (The Line of Best Fit), “a shrug; a call-to-arms; a balm” (Pitchfork) and “a fizzy, spilling-onto-the-floor sonic chemical capable of corroding shadows, lifting spirits, and igniting motor neurons like a match to gray matter” (Pop Matters).
New video “Just Let Go” (feat. How To Dress Well) features the kind of effortless groove and bright, attractive melodies that have become synonymous with the Classixx sound.
With appearances at Coachella coming up in April, Michael David cleared some time out of his busy touring schedule to chat to us about nostalgia, the band’s many musical influences, and the legacy that Classixx will leave behind…
You guys have been friends for a very long time… What’s it like to collaborate for so many years on a single artistic project? How do you guys guard against complacency in the working relationship?
It’s important to us that we don’t fall into patterns that make a lot of producers too cozy. This means reaching for different samples, avoiding presets – simple stuff, really. I also spend a large part of the day listening to music. I think it’s crucial not to become a lazy music consumer. It sounds funny, but this process can be a very creative one. Especially when looking into the archives of different music traditions.
Talk to us about the role that nostalgia plays in your music. To our ears, Faraway Reach is full of emotively familiar sounds, and the listener’s recognition of these sounds seems to feed back into the songwriting…
Good question! I like when we evoke a familiar landscape, or a tone that allows people to recall a time and place. I find nostalgia quite depressing though, so I also don’t want to get us lost in it. I like it when you notice a reference but it’s sort of diffused and reimagined.
The Classixx sound palette seems open to a huge array of influences. Was this a principled decision, or do you guys just enjoy playing around with lots of different kinds of music?
Yeah, we just listen to all kinds of stuff and don’t really discriminate. Tyler and I are not music snobs – we like pop stuff, obscure stuff, and try not to dismiss anything based solely on its affiliations. In principle, the only thing we try to avoid are sounds that are over present in clubs at any given time.
Do you give much thought to your legacy as a recording artist? How does the satisfaction of a well-made record compare to the thrill of a sold-out live shows?
It can be crippling to think too hard about legacy. I think it prevents a lot of musicians from trying fun stuff, but I also see the appeal. It would be cool to look back at our discography as old guys and feel a sense of pride and not horror. Playing a sold-out show is cool because it affirms that some people actually like what we do enough to get out of the house for it.
How are you feeling about 2017? In your eyes, do periods of political/social upheaval and uncertainty produce better artists?
I sometimes get the sense that music is trivial in the face of legitimate political turmoil. But then I’m reminded that music – live or recorded – is very significant on a human level. Far more significant than a political platform. Music has always been one of our country’s greatest exports.
Ideally, how do you see yourself contributing to the electronic music world in 2017?
Same as other years, I’d just like to make music that feels good and provides a bit of escapism.
Catch Classixx on their upcoming tour, below, and buy Faraway Reach from Bandcamp.
24 March – American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
25 March – Anagrama Festival, Zapopan, Mexico, Mexico
07 April – Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
15 April – Coachella, Indio, CA
22 April – Coachella, Indio, CA
16 June – What The Festival, Portland, OR
24 June – Pinknik, Bowling Green, NY
13 July – Camp Bisco, Scranton, PA
14 July – Forecastle Festival, Louiseville, KY