Now that the initial Stateside EDM explosion has had some time to settle, its lasting impact on the music-loving youth of the day is finally being felt. Where David Guetta, Deadmau5 and Skrillex first ushered in the maximalist movement, a second wave of younger, hungrier talents are now taking over. Right at the heart of this secondary evolution are acts like Canadian dance duo DVBBS (pronounced “dubs”), aka brothers Chris and Alex Andre, who are 25 and 24 respectively.
Their sound is unfathomably large, with monstrous kick-drums, overdriven synth lines and glossy chords all working to frazzle brains and make the kids stomp. It’s certainly worked up to now, with their 'Tsunami' track (a collaboration with Borgeous) being one of the EDM anthems of the year in 2014, as well as hitting the No.1 spot in the UK charts.
Plenty more tectonic tunes have followed on labels like Spinnin and Doorn, whilst the pair have also checked off headline performances at places like Ultra Music festival and Electric Daisy. As such, it’s no surprise they have been snapped up for a residency in Las Vegas, and recently passed the three million fans mark on Facebook.
Ahead of them joining DJ Mag at our annual WMC showcase in March, we catch up with the brothers behind the beats…
How has your year been so far? Have you been busy or taking time off?
Alex: “So far 2015 has been amazing... non-stop touring. We’ve been in Europe, Asia, North America, South America already! We moved into a new house in LA and set up a new studio, spending all our weekdays working on new music and all our weekends touring.”
Tell us how you first got into electronic music — what labels, parties, radio shows first turned you on?
Chris: “We grew up playing in bands making all sorts of music, reggae, punk, indie… after that it was just a natural move into electronic music.”
Alex: “Artists like Tiësto, Sander van Doorn and David Guetta really sparked our initial interest when we first were getting into the scene.”
And when and where did you start working together?
Alex: “We’ve worked on music together since we were 12. There’s always going to be arguments when you’re around each other all the time, and sometimes we want to kill each other! (laughs).
So do you come from similar or different musical perspectives? What are some of your own key inspirations and influences over the years, would you say?
Chris: “We come from very similar music perspectives.”
Alex: “Inspirations to us are all over the map from Bob Marley to Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
Who does what in the studio — do you each have certain things you do, like one on bass, one on keys? Do you work fluidly in the studio?
Chris: “We’ve always worked really well in the studio together. Both of us have our strong points. Alex normally is stronger on melodies, harmonies, laying out chords, vocals and stuff.”
Alex: “Chris kills it with the drops, builds, breaks, VSTs and sound design.”
Do you ever argue and fight or do you still get on well? Does it ever get hard on tour, do you ever need time off from each other?
Chris: “Everyday… time off from one another is very important.”
Alex: “The touring is very intense. We are together 24/7 for weeks sometimes. You get tired, grumpy and start fights with each other, but obviously we love each other and wouldn’t want to do this without each other!”
How did it feel when the world started playing 'Tsunami', and it started going to No.1 — did you feel like it was a special tune when you were making it?Alex: “It was pretty surreal, we were watching the Tomorrowland live stream and Hardwell, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike were playing it.”
Chris: “People were telling us it was the most played song of the festival. We never would’ve thought one year later we’d be playing it ourselves at Tomorrowland. It definitely felt like it was a special record, but we had no idea that it would be what it was.”
Why did you decide to keep it quiet about who made it at first, and why did you then finally reveal it was you?
Alex: “Our manager came up with the plan. We wanted the song to be heard without the listeners knowing who it was, it just helped to create a ton of excitement and anticipation. After one month and a ton of great buzz on the song, we announced it was ours, all the anticipation had been built and we just knew it was time to announce the artist names.”
How has your sound changed and evolved since you first started?
Chris: “We’ve always been very diverse in our tastes and goals. We like to make songs that we want to play, most importantly. Always spending a ton of time on every song, trying to add new elements and creativity.”
Alex: “Our vision for DVBBS is to have no limitation to genres, we are always trying new things.”
You have just been made residents at Hakkasan in Vegas, how did that come about?
Chris: “Our first show at Hakkasan was 5th February, and it’s amazing to join the Hakkasan family. Vegas' visibility is important all over the world, and it’s important for our global profile.”
Alex: “Vegas clubs are crazy, they’re all big, there’s a ton of production, there’s a lot of different types of people who want to party. It’s cool because you need to cater to a larger demographic than our regular shows.”
And will your sets there be different than a normal club set, will you try new things, push boundaries, test the limits?
Chris: “We try to play a bit more mainstream in Vegas, but definitely keeping it hard at the same time. If the club is going crazy to harder stuff we go HARD, if they’re responding more to the vocal stuff we will go vocal. Lots of hip-hop and trap, we just completely switch it up at any point in the night.”
When you play, do you go back-to-back or play 15 minutes each — how does it work?
Alex: “There’s no real time limit, but yes we go back and forth. For big festivals we will build a guideline of songs we want to play, but you need to be ready at anytime to switch things up and cater to the crowd.
Are you competitive with each other, trying to impress and outdo one another with each new selection?
Alex: “We’re competitive in basically every other way, but when we’re onstage, we’re in the zone and working together.”
You have a new single with Jay Hardway out soon — how did you hook up with him?
Chris: “We started working on the song with Jay last year in Amsterdam, it was instantly very special to all of us and we’re all very happy with the end result.”
What are the best and worst things about being on tour constantly, do you think?
Alex: “Best is seeing the world, meeting our fans. Worst is not sleeping in your own bed and jet lag.”
What else have you got coming up?
Chris: “We have a ton of music we can’t wait to share, lots of collaborations with artists we’ve always wanted to work with.”
Alex: “We’re taking over stages this summer at a lot of different festivals, called Mount Woozy. And maybe launching a label shortly, so lots of surprises to come.”
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