It’s been a year since Botnek have opened up about their music and what has been going on in the duo’s lives. And let me tell you, they have been up to a lot! I caught up with Gordon and Erick to talk about their new sound, their new character Grumpy Gary, and what we can expect from them in the near future. Oh, and of course, what beer they’re vibin’ with at the moment. They have some very exciting projects coming up, so dive in and get the first look into what they’ve been up to below!
In case you’re unfamiliar with the duo, they are well known for their big room house bangers like their “Waffle House” collab with Snails, their Buffering EP, or their remix of “Selfie” by The Chainsmokers (one of my personal favorites). More recently, however, they have taken on a new direction with songs like their “Ocho Cinco” remix, their “Thief” remix, and their newest single “Don’t Need U.”
Over the last few releases, it would seem you’re exploring some newer territory…what interested you in shifted your sound to a more deep house vibe like we heard in “Don’t Need U”?
Gordon: Ya! There’s definitely a shift in our sound happening. The shift started sometime last year. We had a following for the big room and electro remixes we’d done, and I remember clearly showing a good friend of ours a bunch of demos, like 18 or 20. This was a particular phase where we were trying to make even more and more over the top aggressive-in-your-face tunes than we’d done before. He listened to it all and was like “yo, literally all of these are too insane.” And to be honest that’s kinda when I realized “What are we even doing here?”. We weren’t having fun with the tunes anymore, it was just a challenge to be more and more intense and make crazy noises. None of it was dancey or fun, just super super intense. I think we were just trying to impress producers.
So we’ve always really loved housier and groover electronic music, before we were touring we’d chill and listen to like, Pete Tong mixes. I remember starting “Dont Need U” as an unplanned fun session of just making actual dance music like that again. We talked about how it was so stylistically different, so it was originally going to be a side project. After that one we found ourselves just having actual fun with whatever this side project was going to be. We just decided “Fuck it, lets just make this into Botnek!”
Erick: Ya what gordon said. We just had a moment to reflect on what we were doing and what we felt made us happy.. I still love doing sound design projects and really trying to push what we can do in that realm but also at the same time… it needs to be grounded in dance music. Somewhere along the way we got more interested in making producer porn music rather than making something that people could dance to. I feel so invigorated working on new tunes. I feel like we’ve gone back to when we first started!
What has been your biggest inspiration recently?
G: The two of us have always had pretty different influences, even when we started. It can be the beauty of being in a duo, and also the cause of a lot of frustration. I’ll speak for myself, in the dance world I’ve been really following AC Slater’s Night Bass stuff, and this new school bassy house stuff dudes like Chris Lake, Wax Motif, Drezo, etc.
E: I’ve been really into what Marc Spence and Kyle Watson have been putting out! Really interesting sounds and grooves AND they sound like only they could make it. Each of them has their own thing which I really love. I’ve also been taking a lot of inspiration from acts like Dense & Pika as well as recent releases on Turbo Records. I’ve always loved techno so its been fun to use those sounds and grooves in what Gordon and I are doing.
You guys have always had a very unique sound and have always pushed boundaries. That being said, what is next for you with music? What can we expect in the near and far future?
G: Definitely a more groovy, dancier, sexier version of our sound for the next singles. We’ve already got about 4 or 5 more nearly done, all in a very similar vibe. There’s still lots of funky, weird Botnek noises in there, but it’s more fun. Less “everybody fuckin jump” and more housey. I guess we’re just not overthinking it lately!
E: GROOVE. Like Gordon said, less of the like.. JUMP YEAH WOOO and more of the “aww heck ya this is groovy.” I still feel like there are some bass faces to be made to our new jams though (:
Can you tell us a bit about Grumpy Gary featured on the art for “Don’t Need U”? What inspired you guys to create and animate characters to go along with your songs?
G: This is a great question. So the characters were an idea I wanted to introduce into the project for a while. Look at the cover of our old singles and EPs like “Sriracha & Beer.” We’ve always been equally fans of cartoons as much as we are music. Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, Life and Times of Tim, etc etc etc. That’s like all we watch on the road. We wanted to add that influence into what Botnek was, and have fun creating this world around the music.
At first I kept doing rough ideas on my iPad, and looking up illustrators to flesh out the ideas we wanted for them. But when we showed the characters to people, it ended up that everyone was just loving what I thought were rough ideas. Erick got into it too and started learning After Effects and stuff, and started taking the doodles I was doing and making them come to life. I feel like now we spend half our time on that alongside the music.
E: Yeah we’ve always loved cartoons and wanted to make something unique to us and our music. Its been really exciting to bring them to life in the way we want! It hasn’t been easy but it feels very fresh and has really given us a new found drive to push ourselves further and learn new things not just in the music realm.
Have you guys always been illustrators, or did you guys have to learn a whole new craft?
G: Not at all, I used to draw and trace comic book characters when I was a kid, but got out of it when I was like 13 and got a guitar and started getting into music. My mom always said I was a good drawer though.
E: I went to art school and dropped out to continue my dream of making music! I’m less of an illustrator and more the like.. human photocopier. I like to draw from life. Animation has been a whole new thing for me though. Long nights on YouTube watching tutorials has been the way haha.
Are you guys actually animating the characters yourselves or are you just creating the characters and working with someone to animate them?
G: *points to Erick* For now, yes! We fuckin suck at it tho haha. We have to google every single thing we want to do, or watch YouTube tutorials. It feels like what it must be like to start making music with software for the first time these days. I’d love to eventually get it to a place where we know how to use the software well enough and can work with someone who is an actual animator to bring these characters to life! I’d love to do short cartoons with these guys. But for now we’re doing everything very very DIY.
E: Haha yeah I’m the one animating them and heck ya are they not the greatest. It’s a lot of fun though when Gordon finishes up the drawing and we start draggin things into character animator or after effects. Seeing the characters come to life… even in the most primitive of forms is extremely satisfying. Really reminds me of when I first opened Ableton and got a shitty beat goin… just can’t stop going back and trying to make something better!
I know you guys love beer, so I have to ask…My favorite right now is Amirite from Jack’s Abby. What’s your favorite right now?
G: Heres the REAL question we’ve been waiting for. Never heard of that actually! I’ll say this, I love IPAs mostly. I just cant get into wheat beers, sours, whatever. Right now I think Bell’s Two Hearted is amaze. And I’m a pretty big Stone fanboy. I even keep the bottles of special releases. Their RuinTen triple IPA with orange and vanilla was amazing. More sweet than I usually go for, but god damn was it delicious.
E: I haven’t heard of that either! Gonna have to try it (: When I was living in Seattle there was a pub I would go to for happy hours that had a beer called RPM IPA – Boneyard Brewery. Bitter but delicious! Whenever I’m back in Seattle I go to this pub and grab it. And if I’m ever in a place here in LA that has it I get it right away! Actually we were recently in Portland and I had like 3 of them. Makes sense it would be there since its an Oregon company!