¥ntendo is the ramen of electronic music. If you don’t understand what that means exactly, you will by the end of this interview…
The LA-based guy/gal duo behind the music, Alan Notkin and Apphia Castillo (better known as Phi), are masters of the craft nearly 1 year and just 4 shows into the production.
1/2 of ¥ntendo took over at a Nintendo themed party at Tunnel Chicago on Saturday. Unfortunately, Alan couldn’t perform because his visa is in the process of being renewed. But, Phi came prepared to absolutely slaughter.
The set was insane! Homegirl threw down some massive tracks like Herobust – “Skurt Reynolds (VIP),” Skrillex – “Scary Bolly Dub,” and Sikdope – “Snakes,” showing off her impeccable taste. Of course, with the ¥ntendo touch and some deliciously dark unreleased tracks mixed in perfectly.
Before that, Your EDM was able to sit down with Phi and talk all things ¥ntendo. Check it out below!
Since it’s all about Nintendo tonight, what’s your favorite game or character?
Phi: Super Smash Bros! That was my favorite game to play with my brother when I was a little kid.
What would Alan pick?
Phi: I feel like he would like Mario, but that’s just because Mario is the most favorited one. He’s cool like that.
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
Phi: Alan and I met September 2015 at a house party at his place. We were bonding over music and stuff. I said I always had interest in getting into it, but didn’t know if I could. He had been producing for like 10 years, and he said he could teach me. So, he started teaching me and then we decided to do a project together. That’s kind of how ¥ntendo became a thing. And, the name became a thing because we wanted to brand it in a way that’s kind of nerdy — because we’re both weird in a way. We thought that gaming is cool. Not that they’re all nerds. You know what I mean, maybe. * takes shot, then continues * We want a fashion-type brand, too, because he and I have such a love for fashion.
Who wears the pants in the relationship?
Phi: Oooh! I think that he would own that I do. I’m just louder. I talk more. He’s like a little bit more shy, but when you get to know him he’s the funniest person and says the most random shit. I think both of us have an equal distribution of pants, per say. I think that he would let me own it because he knows that I’ll fight him so much that he’ll just get bored. So, he’d say, “OK fine, she owns it.” And, I’d say, “I know! See!” It’s a good partnership. He compromises.
What do you like most about working together?
Phi: Alan’s not here to talk about how cool I am. But, Alan is one of the best people I’ve ever met. He’s a kind, respectful, humble dude. I couldn’t be more fortunate to work with a guy who’s understanding. Alan has learned a lot by working with me. He’s just always there for me. I’m really lucky to have that type of support — beyond music as well — family wise, or guys wise, no matter what. Some guy made me sad and he was like, “Let’s go to ramen!” It’s cool things like that — to have a partner that cares about you. He’s literally my best friend.
Do you make Alan do girly things with you?
Phi: I haven’t really made him do anything that girly. Something fun we’ve been doing is getting hella tattoos. We both had no tattoos, and then all of the sudden — he almost has a sleeve and I have sticker tattoos everywhere. That was a good bonding thing. We’re gonna get a ¥ntendo sign together.
Not to label you guys with a genre, but how would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard it yet…
Phi: I think our songs are really “ramen” inspired. We like to keep a lot of flavor in our songs. No, if I’m being serious — we try to go for a darker vibe. We’re obviously huge electronic dance music fans. I have been since I was 14, and got made fun of. We tried to branch out in a way, so other people who don’t listened to [EDM] might still be interested instead of scared away. Kind of groovy, weird… We do a lot of clocks. I don’t know if anyone has noticed that. So, little ticking things. Very digital. We try to keep it within our brand — dark cool kids, but were also nerdy kids. In our music we try to represent that as well.
Who are your biggest influences?
Phi: Well, I’m really good friends with Gareth from Knife Party. We look up to both Rob and Gareth together. But, I’m close to Gareth, personally. We look up to our friends, honestly. I would also say Rezz — she’s so f***ing cool. I met her after my set at Wobbleland and she was so nice and down to earth. I look up to her so f***ing much. I think she’s so epic. Dr. Fresch — he’s a homie of mine as well. I love his production. I think he’s a kind person. I personally like Datsik. That was one of the first artists I heard when I got into the industry, and his girlfriend is like my best friend so that’s really cool. Alan would say, not EDM-wise, but he loves 50 Cent. We have some remixes. AC Slater — I like his stuff a lot because it’s just groovy.
What’s your production process like?
Phi: It’s a lot. We get inspired by little things. He and I go out a lot, so we’ll typically hear a track, or whoever performs will inspire us and then we get in the studio and kind of f*** around and figure out as a team what we want to do. From there we basically make a dang banger. Usually we’ll order pizza, and the pizza typically inspires a bit. We work a lot with our whole Vital Management team. Jackal is on there, and Sam F, who we’ve done a lot of collabs with. He’s one of our best friends. Typically, we’ll all be hanging out on the couches. We all work together and inspire each other. We’re so fortunate to have such talented individuals constantly around us.
Any dream collaborations?
Phi: Rezz, obviously. We have a lot of people — one of them is in this room right now — shoutout SMLE! We’re trying to do a lot of collabs with our friends. It all honestly just depends with collaborations if you can both find something that’s cohesive. You don’t want it forced. Then, you just put out shit that you didn’t put any passion into. I think people definitely recognize that. Alan and I are very particular and careful about what we put out. We have so many unreleased things that are just lingering. We think, “This is gonna be good, oh wait, we’re not done with it yet!” Dream collabs, yeah Rezz. We might be doing something with Rain Man soon. A Knife Party collab would be really f***ing sick. I can maybe weasel that one in there. Gareth, he’s honestly one of the most remarkable people. He helps teach me how to DJ. He’s really talented.
Your first show was back in October… Does tonight feel any different?
Phi: Our first show was Safe in Sound. It was f***ing incredible. This is my 4th show ever. But, no. It gets a tiny bit less nerve-wracking, but every time it’s still feels like, “Uhhh I don’t wanna f*** up!” It doesn’t matter how many times you practice. I did a live stream of a set on my personal Instagram. I didn’t really watch the comments, but that was more nerve-wracking than a full on show. Because, I was thinking all these people are just judging me, or whatever. It probably gets easier. But, this is only my 4th show so I can’t tell yet. I’m really excited. I’m playing some unreleased things tonight.
What do you hope others feel when they hear your music?
Phi: It’s all cliche bullshit, but I hope it makes them happy or maybe brightens their day. I know when I hear a really good song, I’ll have it on f***ing repeat. And, Alan will say, “Phi! We’ve heard this 10 times!” And I’m like, “I LOVE IT! LET ME PLAY IT!” And, it just makes me happy. So, I hope they have that reaction to our songs, too.
What are you guys working on?
Phi: We are working on an EP, but we have a bunch of unreleased things that we’re probably gonna release before the EP. We’re trying to do a Jackal collab, possibly also with Sam F. With the EP, it’s one of those things that has to have the right fit. We’re just really particular with what we put out. We want it to be cohesive.
What do you want to accomplish by the end of the year?
Phi: We’re coming up on a year now, which is exciting. We didn’t know we’d be booking shows already, this quickly. We’re really fortunate for the opportunities we’ve had. I’m just excited to continue doing this with him. It’s so fun! I’ve acted, I’ve modeled, I’ve been in commercials. I’ve been on stage dancing. It’s really cool, but it’s not the same as being on stage and performing the music you’ve loved forever — and then you get to share it with other people who also love it, maybe. I mean if you don’t then, f*** you, you’re wrong! No, but it’s just so cool! Just continuing that and traveling with my best friend.
Any last words before you hit the stage?
Phi: I love you, Alan!