Rob May & Ian Macpherson make up the LA duo the Bixel Boys and they’ve been grabbing our attention for the better part of 2013 with their take on r&b tunes such as Robin Thicke’s “4 The Rest Of My Life” and Faith Evans’ “Love Like This”. But now these two are back with their debut EP “Black December” on Australian powerhouse Sweat It Out! Records. They were kind enough to chat with us about their new tracks, upcoming projects, and cured meats.
Now how exactly did you two meet?
I: We met thru a mutual friend, who actually now is the mastermind behind pizza-slime; we linked up and 2 weeks later we were putting out Faith Evans and Janet Jackson edits and remixes.*
R: I don’t even think that we knew if this was gonna really work out until we played our first DJ set together and everything sort of clicked.
You’re coming out with your debut EP on Sweat It Out!, how did you get involved with them?
I: I’ve been a huge fan of Sweat for some time now. I think it goes without saying We No Speak Americano was a smash, but especially with some of their 2012 releases like Country Club and the Cassian stuff, I had been
playing it out quite a bit. I feel like its one of the few labels that really has that bounce but can go darker with stuff like Adapt or Die or more house with Yolanda :: even trappy with What So Not and Indian Summer. So I got an email address from my friend who had been living in Australia over the summer of one of their promo guys and we sent them what is now the B-Side of the EP: Red October and we just kind of took things from there.
R: We had Sweat it Out on our minds while making the tracks. It’s a label with an amazing history and an even better future, so we’re honored to be a part of the family.
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/11114810″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
I hear a lot of ghetto tech and techno influences in Black December, but how would you personally explain your sound in general?
R: This is a tough question for me usually. I tend to think that our sound is somewhat constantly evolving in a way. If I had to put a finger on it I would say that our sound is some sort of eclectic** nostalgia wrapped
inside future dance beats. Is that general enough?
I: ‘ eclectic nostalgia ‘ works for me
Are there any artists in particular that have been inspiring you at the moment?
R: Flume. I think his risk-taking type attitude toward his productions has a profound effect on how I hear my own tracks. CHVRCHES. They make me feel like a kid again. I have a warm spot in my heart for synth-pop. Jimmy
Edgar. Dude is just a beast.
I: I think everything that’s coming out on Innovative Liesure right now is on fire, Rhye especially. I’m really into Kate Boy lately, London Grammar is great also. Nothing Was The Same however has been getting tons of playing time.
What kind of music did you listen to when you were younger? Do you think
this has a direct influence on the music you make presently?
I: I definitely think so. My dad was a sound mixer for U2 back in the Joshua Tree days and he grew up listening to alot of Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer etc . . . But my mom listened to Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Peter Gabriel, Madonna etc :: growing up and even now I’d say that I definitely listen to mostly R&B and Hip Hop just because I really see that as ‘ Dance Music ‘.
R: I grew up in the Detroit area, so hip-hop was an easy thing to latch on to – That got me into DJ’ing and scratching and stuff. My first CD that I purchased with my own money was Prodigy’s ‘Fat of the Land’ – I would say that probably paved the way for the producer side of me. It also got me in a ton of trouble with my parents for listening to ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ on full blast.
When you play out, are you sets very similar to what you produce? or do you like to play around with genres and styles?
I: Our selections for sets are very much on the fly. We definitely practice A LOT, we always try to dj together several times a week just by ourselves so we can stay sharp and technically clean but when we play out we like to vibe with the room and figure out how we can interact and push the crowd. We’re always blending different styles :: nothing is really pre-mixed or edited any blend or mash u hear is being done at the moment. Just last week in SF we found our selves looping 8 bars of disclosure over a light year track and had never done that before. I feel like DJing was never about formula’s or being perfect it was (and is) about moving ppl and making their night memorable in your own way so if it takes a little house, a little r&b, a little disco, a little rap to get that feeling then there’s no reason to not explore all those options when their all at your finger
R: I think the best part about a DJ set is that it does’t really have to involve anything that you produce. We like to think of our DJ sets as getting the crowd to dance by any means. Spontaneity in track selection and genre ultimately makes for a more compelling DJ set and we try our best to achieve that every time we play.
Speaking of touring, what’s one thing you need to have while traveling?
I: ESPN. ESPN Radio. Watch ESPN app.
R: Drugs. I mean like Claritin, Benadryl, Sudafed. Thank you allergies!
You two are based out of Los Angeles, what are some of your favorite establishments in the city?
I: Love Venice, get out there every chance I get. Townhouse + Del Monte speak easy is always gonna be a special place for me. I felt like thats where I learned to DJ. Bixel along with our good friends Guns in the Sun have been doing a monthly residency out there for over 2 years and it’s really been the place where we got our DJ chops up. The Guns boys were always dudes that I respected musically so djing nights with them really pushed me to get better, and force myself to take risks. If you ever hear one of our sets theres alot going on and alot of fun edits and familiar vocals and sounds that get thrown in; I think that sort of style really came out of our time at Townhouse and with Guns.
R: I gotta agree with Ian on Townhouse in Venice. It’s one of my favorite places to play. Sound in Hollywood is another great spot. Basically anywhere my friends are at is alright with me.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I: For me Janet Jackson w/o a doubt :: her entire musical catalog has been so far ahead of it’s time.
R: DJ Shadow.
Drake or Kendrick Lamar?
I: Drake, not even a question.
R: Drake, he’s on a roll like cottonelle.
Just for good measure, favorite snacks?
I: I have a most certainly have a charcuterie addiction; any cured meats + honeys + almonds and cheeses are a big deal in my household.
R: Bring me some Haribo Happy Cola and I’ll love you forever.
What are your plans for the near future?
I: A second EP is already done and I cannot wait to start sharing that one with friends. It’s got a lot of the same intentions of Black December but a very specific collection of inspirations went into this one. We’re also looking forward to some international shows in Guadalajara and Mexico City as well as finalizing some shows in Hong Kong also.
R: I’ve got some laundry to do.
Make sure to check out the Bixel Boys debut EP HERE, and take a look at their upcoming tour dates below.