New York production-duo The Knocks on their new album and unwavering love of the Beastie Boys
The Knocks, an intoxicating electronic duo from New York City, is made up of members James “JPatt” Patterson and Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner. The two got their start by playing clubs around New York and producing popular remixes and DJ set lists for sites like Beatport. Their debut album, titled 55, is set to release Mar 4, and is currently available for pre-order right now.
The album includes collaborations with major artists Wyclef Jean, Cam’ron, Carly Rae Jepsen, X Ambassadors and more. The powerful producers are also working on Wyclef’s upcoming, as of yet unnamed, album. Before things blow up for them, we took a minute to catch up with JPatt and see what’s up with The Knocks before coming to Denver and the Larimer Lounge this Saturday, Jan 30.
What was the recording process like for 55?
It was pretty good. We ended up recording with a bunch of our friends super organically, which was good. A couple things less so, specifically the Cam’ron and Alex Newell track. But everything else was just us writing with our friends and we’re really happy with the results.
Were you guys trying to take your music a certain direction with the album? Did you go about making an album differently than if you were just making an individual song?
No, we just write music the way we write and what we are happiest with we put out. We have our sounds, obviously, that we like kind of stick to when we are writing music but we try not to, even let that, hold us back from doing anything. Because if it sounds good it sounds good. So you know we just want to put out the best sounding stuff.
You said you were lucky enough to have worked mostly with your friends on 55. Was it ever and issue collaborating with so many people on your album?
No, no actually it was fun because we were working with our friends, and you know it just makes for better music. Because everything happens super organically and it’s just more fun for everyone involved when you can bounce ideas off some people you are comfortable being in the studio with, rather than sending stuff to people you don’t know.
Did you guys know Wyclef before recording the album together?
We met him like after we were pretty much done with the album. And it was, like, such a great experience overall. And he decided to keep working with us. We were happy to work with him obviously.
You guys are producing his new album, right? How’s that going?
Yeah. Its going really fast, because they want it done really fast, but its really good too because we are turning around our music all the time. With Wyclef, we just kinda hit it off and everything happened, I keep using the word organically, but that’s really the best word to describe it. Like nothing was forced and everything was just kind of effortless.
Who was your favorite person to collaborate with on it?
Probably Wyclef, just because he’s such a legend. It was such a surreal experience just even being in the studio with him.
How long did it take you guys to make 55?
Well, it’s our first album so basically our whole careers. [laughs] But really it’s been an ongoing thing for the past four or five years. Just writing and rewriting and different labels and different situations.
What does the name 55 come from?
Oh, that’s the address of our studio. And that’s basically where we wrote the whole album. And it’s also where we got our career started. So it means a lot to us. I think we are gonna get tattoos of it, it means that much to us. It’s also the old Beastie Boys studio, and I’m a huge Beastie Boys fan.
What’s the electronic music scene like in NYC these days?
Well, everyone in New York is kind of moving to LA. Which sucks. But it is good for us because we get to be some of the only people these artists come to because we are some of the only people left to write with.
There are a bunch of different "in" scenes in New York. It’s not like a city where the music scene is single-directional, its very much multi-directional. So you can go out and see Skrillex and Justin Martin in the same night in two different spots. And that’s the beauty of New York, you know, is that diversity. We try and incorporate that musical diversity into our music.
Have you been spending more time in LA?
Not if I can help it. [laughs] I like New York. We do end up doing some of our writing in LA. And now that we are done with our album, we are getting back into writing more for other people. So, probably because of that we will be spending more time in LA than I would like.
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What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you once your album drops March 4th?
Playing a couple festivals, we’re on this tour now and we will probably do another tour in the fall. Just like playing a bunch of shows for the album and a lot of press stuff. And, like I said, we are going to start doing a lot of writing for other people too.
Are you guys going to try and do anything while you’re in Denver besides your show?
I think we are only there for a night, so it might be one of those things where we just quick bounce around and see some friends. I like Denver, I have friends there, so we’ll see.
What’s your musical background like? How’d you guys get started playing in NYC?
Well, Ben was the DJ at first and I was the band guy. I was trying to make it playing for different indie bands or whatever in New York City. I didn’t realize you could make money playing other peoples music. So I saw him doing it, and I was like, I should totally do that because I was trying to get a 9-5 and be in a band and produce. It was kinda killing me. So I was lucky enough to spread my wings into the DJ scene and we grew from there.
You have a pick to win the Super Bowl?
I mean, I want it to be Cam Newton because I want them to complete their magical run. But Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning, and he’ll probably be Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
Anything else you want to mention?
Just that the album is coming out March fourth, you can pre-order it now.