This past Thursday, I got the chance to chat with Serg and Kieron, the duo behind My Digital Enemy at Cherrytree/Interscope Records. We talked about their new partnership and upcoming releases. They shared their thoughts about the underground versus mainstream, EDM phenomenon in the U.S., music streaming services, and of course, vinyls.
1. You guys are here in LA, and now working with Cherrytree Records. What are you guys looking most forward to with this new partnership?
Serg: “We are really looking to cross our sound over to a bigger audience – a mainstream audience. We got the underground part in, under control with our own label, Zulu and also Toolroom, which we’ve been working with. It’s really nice to use our new management to next try to push it further.”
Kieron: “Yeah, to take the next step further basically, and try to get some featuring artists and some people that they can reach, which we can’t. Hook up some good collaboration.”
2.You two have released your latest single just a few weeks ago, “To Dust” off Toolroom Records, and now have 2 upcoming releases. Can you tell us a bit more about these releases?
Serg: “Our next release is actually off a label called One Love, which is in Australia. That’s coming out on the 12th of December, a track called “Live Again” with a UK vocalist called Katherine Ellis. She just did a soundtrack from Gravity.”
Kieron: “She’s done a lot of cool stuff in the 90’s, quite cool to get her. A classic house music vibe, rather get someone to emulate it; we actually got someone who was actually doing it…so that’s pretty cool.”
MDE: “I don’t know if we can talk about the other release…haha! If everything falls into place then it should happen. Big Question Mark. Also, our latest Sir Sly remix, “You Haunt Me”, that was premiered on BBC Radio 1 with Pete Tong last week. He’s played “To Dust” and pretty much every track. Should be played again this weekend, by specialist DJ – B.Traits. Getting some nice love. Even up to David Guetta playing it – Some bigger people playing it, if you know what I mean.”
3. What would you say is the biggest difference between the “underground” environment versus the club environment? Does the change affect the way you guys perform?
MDE: “Like in the UK you have this sort of a warehouse party and it’s literally more there for just the music. Some of the other parties… are more people that go there with their friends to just go party and try to pick up women. Depends which club you play at. Some clubs are focused on just the music and you can get away with a lot of unnoticed tracks. Play tracks people have never heard before and they will accept that. At the nightclub people want to hear stuff they have heard before. You have to be dropping acapellas and things to keep them interested…if you see what I mean. Both parties are good to play at, and underground ones you can play more minimal stuff and new music.
4. How have these two opposing environments influenced your creativity of music?
Kieron: “Definitely affects the music, where like the underground stuff is getting more popular- as it were, and you can get away with being a bit more experimental. 8 minutes of just banging beats with no hooks, doesn’t sound really good on the radio, but if it’s 4 in the morning in a nightclub it’s amazing. You can be can be gone for 15 min and people are still just partying to it.”
Serg: “We kind of try to write for a club, and in back of our minds for radio as well – mainly towards the club, but some other artists generally write minimal tracks that work well for the club, not so much for radio. We always add some extra melodic elements that are kind of in the middle somewhere, and interesting to listen to on the radio. That’s why our stuff has done so well on Radio 1 this year, because we do add a little extra bit to it.”
5. Coming from the UK, how have you guys adapted to the EDM Phenomenon we are facing with in the U.S.?
Kieron: “In England it’s sort of dead – that EDM, is what they call it in America and call it deep house, and EDM is sort of this noisy stuff. You go to a club and just no one would be playing that now in England. I think here (U.S.) it’s quite massive.”
Serg: “It has become pop music, like all the big artist had got some EDM backing tracks, which has sort of moved it into pop territory.”
6. How do you guys feel about the advancement of technology, and the free music streaming services like Spotify/Soundcloud? Do you think this correlated with the EDM Phenomenon here in the U.S.?
Kieron: “If you go into a market that is just right at this point doing really well in commercial it can be quite short lift and sort of thing. There might be someone to go and write the noisy EDM stuff and get a big vocal from a massive featuring artist. Might be able to do 2 tracks and get quick success for it. Then in 2 years time – it’s not lasting. Where the underground always lasts, where its been done forever. Some different sounds will jump out of it, and so deep house will suddenly jump out of it, and then that will go underground again. Now this sort of real, noisy rave sound is big at the moment, then it goes back. The underground is always there and different fads will come out of it.”
Serg: “That’s why people like Carl Cox do so well. They never try to do anything commercial. I think we made a good move; I think when the whole EDM got big we kind of did the opposite. We stuck to what we are doing – carried on doing House and didn’t move over. It’s taken 2 years, but it’s coming in a circle, and the sound that we are doing is really current and getting a lot of attention based on it.”
7. A-Trak posted a picture up on his Facebook page stating, “Vinyl Is The New Digital.” What do you guys think about this statement?
Kieron: “They are just too slow. Lets say we write a record or do something in the hotel, we can write it on the same night or finish it in the car on the way to the gig. I think for actual practicality of DJ-ing, not so good.”
Serg: “They said in England the vinyl sales have gone up the last 5 years. Like a rock band will release a colored vinyl – limited edition, and all their fans will buy it just to keep and not to play. That is really nice.”
8. How will you guys be spending the rest of your time in U.S.?
MDE: “We are heading over to SF to play Temple Nightclub and then Chicago for Castle. It’s a big deal for us, it’s the birth of house. Coming back for a month in February and plan some more secret stuff…haha.”