2013 has been a big year for EDM, but few artists have had a bigger year than the Chicago-natives of Krewella. As seen by their set at Ultra 2013, which was live streamed on YouTube, Yasmine, Jahan, and Kris’ (Rain Man) electrifying high energy performances, complete with live vocals, have captivated the hearts and minds of people all over the globe. With their fans united as one big family, better known as their Krew, the multi-genre group has shown no sign of slowing down. Their debut album ‘Get Wet,’ which debuted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200, landed them the honor of being the first ever EDM act to perform on the nationally broadcasted ‘Good Morning America,’ officially launching them into the realm of superstardom. Over the past month and a half, Krewella has been destroying dance floors across the country with their signature blend of dubstep, house, hardstyle, with poppy vocals on their first nationwide bus tour and I sat down with them to learn about their crazy Krew-lives; don’t forget to bring a towel, because you’re about to GET WET!
So you’ve been headlining your own tour, but recently you opened for Pretty Lights in New Jersey. What was that experience like for you?
Jahan: Pretty Lights is someone that we’ve all known of since we started making Electronic Dance Music, actually my favorite Pandora station is Pretty Lights so it was cool. It’s a very different scene because he now has live instruments, it’s very chill-step, jam-bandy and our stuff is very aggressive and intense, it’s very melodic poppy vocals with progressive house drops or dubstep, so very different scenes there. But it was cool because I didn’t think he would actually be into our set and when we got off stage he thanked us and he actually acknowledged the fact that we opened for him, which was pretty sweet.
How does it feel now that your debut album has been out for well over a month? Was it hard letting it go out into the wild?
Yasmine: I think we were ready for it, looking back I’m sure we all have regrets whether it’s Kris with production or us with writing looking back at things that we could have and should have done, but it’s out there, we’ve made the best of it. I think we’re all really proud of it and I think it’s a learning experience, it was our first album and then with album two we can learn what to do differently, what direction to go in, and I think we’re all really happy that it’s out there and that people can finally hear it, it’s something that we’ve been working on for almost two years.
Rain Man was absent from the first few dates of the Get wet Tour. What was touring without him like? Was it hard on you guys?
Yasmine: We missed him very much!
Jahan: Whenever one of us is missing, the dynamic is kind of thrown off, like Yasmine was sick in the summer for a few shows and it felt completely different, especially since we’re sisters too. And I always feel like when the energy on stage feels a certain way then the audience can definitely feel that, if we’re feeling tired one night and not giving our all then the audience will feel that. But now we’re all three back together and it feels right, this is what the group is meant to be like.
Jahan, where did you learn to head bang like you’re the lead singer of a heavy metal band? Does going so hard night after night take a toll on your body?
Jahan: I’m sore every single day, I actually feel like an old woman right now, I hate complaining because I really love performing, but my knees feel like they’re 70-year-old woman knees. The back of my neck, it’s crazy, I was feeling it, and you can never see it because my hair is always down, but I have insane neck muscles and traps now. I think it’s because I don’t dance, I’m not a dancer, so you kind of learn to adapt and you figure out your own way to move to music. Like I’ll be sober on stage but I move like I’m on drugs because that’s the way the music feels when the bass is so intense. I’m really passionate about the music we make so I just completely surrender myself to the music and let my body go, music is the drug.
Speaking of metal, Rain Man, since you’re a pretty big metal head, how does your production process differ between more bass heavy tracks and other less aggressive styles of EDM?
Rain Man: I think when it’s a more melodic song the melody can definitely carry the energy than let’s say if it’s like a heavy bass song then it’s more about getting the buildups and the energy in the drum fills and everything right. When it’s more melodic, take like ‘Alive,’ the melodies of the song going from the verse resolving and everything can keep the energy going, so it’s kind of like that. What’s big in all of our songs is melody, so that’s definitely the driving factor.
Do you find that those really bass-heavy tracks come to you more naturally or is it pretty much the same across the board?
Rain Man: Sometimes I have to, with one of our songs ‘Party Monster,’ I had to literally just not try to do melodic things because I love melody so much but a lot of what goes off in the club is just like noises and sounds. So with that I had to just pretend, I just dumbed it down, and I like the song, it’s fun and people enjoy it, but I like melodies more than sounds and tones.
Jahan and Yasmine, you guys give off more of an alternative rocker vibe. How does it feel to be role models for girls who don’t fit the mold?
Jahan: In music especially I can’t think of many female artists that focus less on image and beauty and it’s amazing to hear we’re role models for women like that, thank you, that’s very humbling. But I’d encourage women and anyone who’s pursuing music or art to focus more on the art itself and the music making process rather than focusing on yourself as a fashion icon or beauty icon and being perfect and polished. I always say this when we go out on stage, we are completely dedicated to our performance, it’s not about outfit changes or our makeup looking perfect or staying dry. We look absolutely disgusting, we’re soaking wet, our mascara’s running, and we go out in the crowd and take pictures with our fans after our sets. So I think it’s all about completely leaving your ego at home and just liberating yourself.
Earlier this year you guys played the first show Boston after the tragic marathon bombings. Given that context, what did it mean to you play at the House of Blues Boston across the street from Fenway Park as the Red Sox won the World Series? Do you feel like you have a special connection to the city after everything you’ve been through together?
Yasmine: That is crazy, I didn’t think about the connections between all the special moments that we’ve been there with the Boston Krew for. That definitely has to be, in my opinion, one of my top five favorite cities to play in. For some reason the energy, we played Ocean Club but I’m thinking more of like the venue types not the club types of shows, was insane and the kids afterwards when we went and met them were the most genuine and nicest kids ever, not only kids but adults, anyone. I think we have a special connection and I was very happy to be there after the Boston bombings for those kids, it almost felt like it was the right timing for us to be there because it was our first show in Boston. At first we were really bummed, we were like oh my god no one’s going to want to come out, no one’s going to want to spend that night with us, but everyone came out, everyone was in such good spirits, they needed to be uplifted and I felt like it was good that we were there.
Are there certain tracks like ‘Human’ that you don’t ever plan to drop live? If so, why?
Jahan: We were thinking about that at the beginning of the tour, we spent months rehearsing and crafting our set and working on visuals with V Squared Labs and Stefano Novelli who designed the volcano, and there are some songs that we intentionally leave out in the set because our whole motto and mantra is getting wet, the show is high energy and ‘Human’ is more of a chill-step ballad and we have songs like ‘Pass The Love Around’ too, which doesn’t technically have a bass drop in it, but we’re kind of waiting to see if those songs would catch on with our fanbase and if they blew up in this smaller community then we’d start playing them out. So I think we’re waiting to play it by ear and see if they become well known enough to drop the energy in the set to sing more of those ballad type songs.
You guys drop a lot of hardstyle in your sets, you have a collaboration with Headhunterz coming out later this month. What do you think hardstyle’s chances are of catching on in America? Do you think it will ever take off here like it has in Europe?
Jahan: I think it kind of has to evolve a little more because just like any other genre in dance music like dubstep and electro-house there are sounds that start being overused, like you have the hardstyle kick which like 10 different hardstyle DJs will use in their songs, so I think someone has to change hardstyle a little. Sounds can get stale and if every DJ is kind of mimicking sounds of another DJ then I don’t think it can really take off.
Is that what you’re trying to do with the Headhunterz collab, trying to bring something fresh to hardstyle?
Jahan: With that one I think it’s more about the songwriting and these beautiful melodies, he has an excellent sense for melodies, so I think that sets our hardstyle collaboration apart from other ones. But I’m more of a fan of hard dance, there’s like a different sounding kick in hard dance.
Yasmine: Less gong gong gong gong.
Jahan: And hard techno, oh yeah!
Besides the one with Headhunterz, do you have any other collabs on the horizon? Maybe another one with your friends at Adventure Club?
Yasmine: Yes, we have some stuff in the works. That one I guess we can talk about because it’s out in the stratosphere, but there are a couple other ones that we can’t quite talk about yet. What can we say about the Adventure Club collab? Kris is going to get his hands on it soon, just talked to Christian [from Adventure Club] about that.
Did you guys work on this one back when you made Rise & Fall?
Yasmine: No this is a newer thing in the past couple months that Jahan and I wrote I would say three months ago and we wrote it over a rough beat that they have, it’s a 130 BPM. We really like it and then when Kris gets his hands on it and takes it to the next level I think it’s going to be really good, we’re excited about it.
Is that supposed to be coming out on Adventure Club’s next EP?
Yasmine: It’s supposed to but it’s kind of blurry right now, we’re not totally sure since their first EP just came out.
Recently Above & Beyond did an acoustic set in Los Angeles, The Bloody Beetroots collaborated with Paul McCartney, so much is possible in EDM now that wasn’t before. What is something that you’d love to try that you never thought you could accomplish at the beginning of your careers?
Jahan: Acoustic sets themselves are something we never thought about doing, even performing live. When we first made songs, we actually didn’t know how to perform them out live because when you’re creating dance music and electronic music everything is so highly produced, everything from Kris’ production to vocal chops and vocal samples so replicating that live is such a challenge and it’s still a challenge to this day trying to figure out how to transform our songs from something that’s on CD into a live atmosphere. I think it’s amazing now that we’re performing out at acoustic radio shows, I think that says a lot about your songwriting and that’s changed how we see our songwriting because now we’re not writing just to a beat, we’re writing over stripped down chords, piano chords, or guitar chords and that allows us to focus more on our song writing in that way. So the whole thing has just evolved our way of thinking about writing and performing.
You guys have some of the most dedicated and passionate fans in EDM. How has your Krew inspired your development not just as musicians, but also as human beings?
Yasmine: We wrote so much of the ‘Get Wet’ album based on experiences and conversations that we’ve had with fans before shows when we get to meet some of them and they tell us either how music in general or our music has helped them get through a hard time or about the great party nights they had listening to our music and feeling like we were there with them and just stuff like that has inspired the way that we write music. And also just as people, I think we’ve grown with so many of them for the past two years, we know half of them by name now, we feel like we’re family and it’s nice to have family in every city, the Krew-fam. Everywhere we go we have people we know we can count on to put a smile on our faces and that’s a nice thing to know.
Bonus clip of Yasmine stage diving with Adventure Club when they dropped ‘Rise & Fall’ at their show at the House of Blues Boston: