The Grammy nominated NYC duo unleash their new album ‘You Are Not Alone’
Hey dudes, welcome to DMCWORLD towers. Your debut album ‘You Are Not Alone’ swings our way on August 28th…when did you begin creating this cool long player?
K: “December of last year. We were putting some tracks together to release a free mixtape and then suddenly realized nothing about this project breathed “mixtape” at all: The production was all original, we weren’t using any samples, and all the songs we’d been writing were all tied together under one umbrella theme – like a concept album. Calling it a mixtape would be selling ourselves short, so we set out over the next few months to write and record a masterpiece album.”
Talk us through the album, what are some of the highlights…?
OL: “You Are Not Alone, from start to finish, is a journey. It’s not a linear story that is told from beginning to end – it’s more of a larger picture that is gradually unfolding song by song.”
K: “As far as highlights, there’s the fan-favorite tearjerker “Sign Language,” featuring Wynter Gordon with a music video coming soon; the socially conscious, indie pop-influenced “You Could Save Us All,” which captures the album’s concern about society’s decisions and the future direction of mankind; as well as classic, east coast hip-hop tracks like “Still Dreamin'” featuring the legend Termanology (with a music video at www.youtube.com/kineticsmusic).”
How did the road-testing go – did any tracks get ditched?
K: “Plenty of tracks got ditched. We were in perfectionist mode when we wrote and recorded You Are Not Alone and wanted to make sure this project was a collection of only our best work. We took some of the songs that we cut and put together a mixtape entitled With A Little Help From My Friends, which you can download for free at www.kineticsandonelove.com
Tim, you have literally grown up with music; playing the piano at the age of 5, the drums at 10, classical theory at school. Have you come from a musical family?
OL: “Nobody in my family was ever a professional musician, but it’s definitely a musical family. My parents met in their high school band, my grandmother taught piano lessons for decades and my other grandmother performs with a bell choir. My younger brother is also an extremely talented drummer and musician, look out for the Sommers Bros in the future!”
Tim, how did you first discover Hip Hop? Who were the artists that had you jumping around your bedroom to?
OL: “The crazy thing is I never really listened to hip-hop before meeting Kinetics. When we met in college he introduced me to a whole world of music I had previously disregarded. I spent the next few months discovering all these underground classic artists and producers that Kinetics grew up loving. Now our taste for hip-hop is extremely similar, which is part of the reason we work so well together.”
You met at college, if you both hadn’t have followed your true love of music, what other careers beckons?
K: “I would have done something, anything, that involves writing in some form or another. If I wasn’t writing lyrics, I’d be writing literature or screenplays. People tell me one of my strongest skills as a songwriter is my ability to tell stories, which I flex a little bit in the song “Sign Language,” a story about a teenager who falls in love with a deaf girl but ultimately ends in tragedy.”
OL: “If I didn’t pursue music, I would’ve pursued music.”
What were your initial thoughts on each other when you met at college?
K: “Who is this weirdo?”
OL: “One of the first things he said to me was “Oh, you listen to bands? My best friend listens to bands also, you guys would get along.” I was in shock and never thought we would ever work together.”
Jeremy, tell DMCWORLD about that phone call you received from your manger as you were walking out of the subway regarding a certain hero MC of yours…
K: “It was right around the time “Airplanes” came out. I walked out of the subway in the Bronx and our girl Gina from Atlantic calls me like, “So in addition to your song becoming an overnight chart-topper, performed by top-selling rapper B.o.B, there will also be a second version of the song released, this one featuring Eminem, your favorite rapper and most important lyrical influence of your career.” What? How does that make sense? I didn’t think those types of phone calls existed in the real world.”
What has been the best live gig you both have ever been to?
K: “As a performer: headlining a nationally televised music festival in China, alongside acts from around the world, in support of global connectedness. As a spectator, seeing the Jay-Z and Eminem show at Yankee Stadium in 2010 and witnessing B.o.B and Em perform “Airplanes”.”
OL: “China was definitely the craziest show we ever did; there were 20 backup dancers with full choreography for our whole set. It’s hard to name a best show, but a few weeks ago I was in Chicago for Lollapalooza. Between Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frank Ocean, Florence and the Machine, Calvin Harris, and countless other heavyweights I’ve always wanted to see it was probably my favorite festival/concert experience ever.”
What is the record that changed your life?
K: “The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ready To Die.” I was a little kid, and it was the first rap record to introduce me to hip-hop, the genre I would be in love with for the rest of my life.”
OL: “Incubus’s “Morning View”/”Make Yourself” (I consider them one album). This was the first time I couldn’t stop listening to a CD. It was the first time I started listening to the little details in the tracks, the first time I started to think like a producer.”
It has been said that you are the duo who are “revitalizing underground hip hop and reinventing standards for pop music” – thoughts on that little comment!
K: “I’d like to think we are living up to that description with You Are Not Alone. Pop music is often criticized for lacking artistic depth at the sake of appealing to a wide audience. At the other end of the spectrum, you have the world of underground hip-hop, which the mainstream has trouble latching onto because of poor production value and a lack of memorable hooks. We tried to write an album that meets somewhere right in the middle: the soul, substance and intricacies of underground hip-hop verses with hook-heavy modern pop production.”
Finest album ever made?
K: “It is a tie between Nas’ It Was Written, Eminem’s Slim Shady LP and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.”
OL: “Every Queen album.”
What is the current top 10 you are spinning right now?
OL: “My DJ sets are all super A.D.D. and all over the place. A lot of fast transitions between a lot of genres, and I love throwback jams. A few recent(ish) songs that come to mind:
Diplo – Express Yourself
Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools
RAC – Hollywood ft. Penguin Prison (Felix Da Housecat Remix)
Brass Knuckles – Lie To You
Bingo Players – Cry
Tommy Trash – Monkey See Monkey Do
Nas – The Don
Parachute Youth – Can’t Get Better Than This
Above & Beyond – On My Way To Heaven (Seven Lions Remix)
Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans (RAC Mix)
Dance music has exploded in America over the last couple of years. Some say the US has already had its golden era in EDM, some are saying that when the American clubber gets bored with the dance beat they’ll throw it away like they did with Disco in the 70s. Thoughts on the whole EDM/USA topic…
OL: “I honestly do love EDM and have been following the scene for years. The most exciting thing for me is that producers can be artists; it’s an amazing platform for a single person to write music and experiment with new sounds. I also love how much people are talking about what makes a good DJ and all this controversy about “button pushers” (check out the posts from Deadmau5 and A-Trak). While there’s definitely a level of fad-ness to it I think it will have a much longer staying power because of the way the festival scene has exploded. Kids today are obsessed with going to raves/festivals, and we’ve seen so many new festivals pop up in the past 2 or 3 years. I think that attitude towards live music will spill over into all genres (if it hasn’t started to already) and all artists will have more opportunities for shows/tours. As for Kinetics & One Love, we stick to the sound we’ve spent years perfecting. You might find traces of electronic music here or there, but we will always be a hip-hop duo.”
How does your studio set up work, who brings what to the production process?
K: “We don’t look at ourselves as a typical rapper-producer duo. We tend to operate more like a band, where we write the songs together, from scratch, and we both work on all aspects of the song. While Love is primarily the producer and the guy who is manning the controls, and I am primarily the songwriter, there is plenty of crossover.”
We hear you are songwriting for some major label artists…what can you tell us?
OL: “Can’t reveal anything just yet, but there will be some exciting announcements in coming months. All I can say is subscribe to our fan page at www.facebook.com/kineticsmusc to stay updated on all of our songwriting news.”
You are obviously known around the world for penning the chorus to B.o.B’s multiplatinum selling ‘Airplanes’. Where has been the strangest place you’ve heard that track?
OL: “A nursing home.”
It’s your birthdays. What 5 celebs dead or alive do you invite for dinner?
K&OL: “Mila Kunis, Eminem from 1999, Claude-Achille Debussy, the dog from Air Bud and Christopher Nolan.”
And finally, we all have one. What is your guilty pleasure record you secretly love but shouldn’t?!
OL: “Don’t know if this is a guilty pleasure, but Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” is an awesome song in my book.”
K: “That kid’s verse from the YouTube video “Khaliyl Iloyi rapping at 2 years old”.”