(Original Photo By: Chad Griffith)
We live in an age of accomplishment. An age of people asking where we went to school, what our degree is in, and what we plan to do with our lives because we are often measured by what we can put on a resume. For the sake of such an ideology, we don’t see many families steering their children in the direction of the arts. Danny and Nick, of the electronic duo Disco Fries, are a shining example of the exception to our society’s nine-to-five career paths.
Danny and Nick both loved music as they grew up, but it wasn’t among their immediate aspirations. While a young Danny dreamt of being a professional basketball player or the protégé of Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park, Nick’s family encouraged him that thinking outside the box and living beyond a blue-collar career was an entirely possible goal. Music started to shift into focus at his elementary school dance, as he was mesmerized by the DJ and the idea that he could drive a room’s energy.
The two met at Berklee College of Music and thus, The Disco Fries were born. Soon after graduating, Danny and Nick were given the opportunity to perform in Hong Kong through the word of mutual friends. As the first show the two had been booked for as a duo, it was an incredibly surreal experience.
Danny: “It was the first official show we got booked for as a duo and it was truly an eye opening experience for us. I’ll never forget after our set, hanging out with fans we had made that night and the other DJs at the club. I was ready to grab some food and was halfway out the door when Nick tapped my shoulder to tell me, “Hold up a sec, I’m going to go settle up with the manager”. At that point, I realized I had just had one of the most memorable nights of my life and hadn’t thought for a second about the fact that someone was paying us. In that moment, something clicked for me, because I realized I could have the best of both worlds. That was a definitive moment in my life where I realized I had chosen the right path.”
Since then, the genre-elusive duo has been firing on all cylinders from tours that have taken them to Norway, establishing an incredibly well received podcast, and so much more.
They have certainly learned a lot along their journey. As producers that don’t like to stay within the bounds of a specific genre, they have certainly experienced difficulty when it comes to branding and their overall approach to both their music’s creation and the demands of their fanbase. Having occasionally questioned whether or not they would be bigger artists if they stuck to one sound, they are much more satisfied making whatever holds their interest at the moment.
When it comes to career advice, it is relatively simple. Some of the smartest things you can do is to work with people much smarter than you, get out of your comfort zone, and not let yourself stress over finding your calling whilst remaining aware of the signs the universe gives you.
Aside from artistic struggles shared by many in the music industry, Nick’s relationship with his grandparents has always been a major part of his career. Nick’s introduction to music came primarily from his grandparents as he spent the majority of his childhood in their company. Unfortunately, Nick then had to face a particularly painful part of life as his Grandmother became ill.
Nick: “I had a reality check when I was eleven. Over about 6 months I watched my grandmother rapidly deteriorate from pancreatic cancer, passing away in December of 1997. Being that I was over at their house all the time, my parents wanted to keep my routine and I was exposed to just about every phase of what she went through. At that age, you still don’t entirely understand death, especially death that looks as gruesome as cancer, but it makes you grow up quickly and appreciate the relationships you have that much more. I spent the next 18 years or so becoming close with my grandfather. We were inseparable and even as he got older, his personality made me feel like I was looking up to a larger-than-life superhero. Between touring and studio sessions, I’d stop there and get coaching on who and what to avoid, what songs I should try mimicking musically, advice on balancing relationships and work, and every possible life lesson you could imagine. My family and I were with him as he passed away last year and it has been a difficult road to repair emotionally. However, since he was one of the reasons I started doing music in the first place, it has driven me to work harder, make more well-thought-out business decisions, and that life is far too short to worry about the meaningless things like a label not wanting to release a record on time.”
In order to continue their positivity and help bring a bit of that influence to the rest of the music industry, Danny and Nick remain conscious of the effect the people in their lives have on others. In addition to that, they do their best to help and work with others who are trying to jumpstart their project.
Nick: “I used to think the industry needed more honesty and integrity, but it has that; you just have to know who to surround yourself with. We’ re always working to help facilitate others to refine their craft and launch their careers. In a world where we have access to so much knowledge, there is still so much noise, misinformation, and people in it for the wrong reasons. We love navigating around all of that and if we can mentor more people, helping expose music from artists that are like-minded, I believe that we can collectively continue to shift the negative perception of the music industry.”
Danny: “I’d have to say mindset of old school vs. new school. We’ve seen so many changes in the electronic music community in the short time that we have been a part of it and people’s reluctance to accept those changes is extremely frustrating. Whether it’s about how music is delivered (physical/digital sales vs. streaming), promotion methods, or musical styles going from the underground to the mainstream, change is going to happen. We’re not always happy about it, and we try to use our influence as players in the industry to move it in a positive direction, but at the end of the day we know you can’t waste all of your energy bitching about how things used to be so much better. If more people in the industry found the good/positive in change and focused on that, the scene would be better for it.”
In order to facilitate these goals, the duo also believe that a little self-editing in such a headline-driven society would go a long way. The Internet is an endless source of content, which can sometimes drown out the most inspiring and thought-provoking creativity it produces.
Nick: “I think we all can self-edit a little more and share what is meaningful, what makes us whole as a person. That is really what people care to engage with. We’re ultra-conscious of not polluting the environment and if we treated the Internet the same way, we all may feel a little more fulfilled.”