Make Something Great, Make Something Special - An Interview with Classixx

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Childhood friends that came together and grew into their current state of an in demand electronic live act, Classixx is a band that is talented, well studied, and determined to work towards something timeless.

Tyler Blake and Michael David are musicians by nature and what they do is simply make beautiful music. The Classixx sound succinctly described might be melodic, danceable beautiful electronic music that integrates traditional organic instruments for optimal emotional impact.

They came up first as DJs, putting on sets that got everyone going and with a unique perspective towards remixes. Yet, they always were working towards their own compositions, and they have finally reached the goal of a live act with an amazing original album of their own. If you haven’t spent time with their album Hanging Gardens, or experienced any of its glory in passing, here is a link to buy it because you need to hear it.

So, I can say it so many ways, but really, it just all comes down to the fact that Classixx makes beautiful music. With this in mind, what I found most refreshing when I spoke with Tyler Blake about what Classixx was currently working on and reflecting on this very active year they have had, their passion is this beautiful music. Now, all aspiring DJs and bands, you really should pay close attention to the musings and wisdom Classixx has to offer, I think I caught them at a very wonderful huge moment.

Hanging Gardens… What an album… It’s been a year, what are your thoughts looking back on that year?

It was definitely a big year for us. Right around now was when we put out the record last year. It’s the first album that we’ve ever done, it’s one of our biggest accomplishments that we’ve ever done. At the end of that, we toured basically all year supporting it. It’s our first time playing live this year, playing all of our own songs, playing live instruments. It’s a really big change, a step forward for us this year and it was great, we got to play some of our favorite festivals that we’ve ever been to, including Treasure Island coming up, which we’re still looking forward to and Coachella.

What are some of your favorite songs from Hanging Gardens?

Personally, I guess, 'Borderline' is my favorite. I think it’s one of the most emotional songs on there. I don’t know, there’s something about it that is just special to me. It’s the last song on our album. Out of all the songs on the album, it evokes the most emotion. It’s also an interesting song because you kind of want drums to come in the whole time, it has a clap, but it doesn’t really have a driving drumbeat behind it. We tried putting a drumbeat there and decided it felt nice and almost unsettling in a way to keep it out, and we consciously left drums out. Just for some reason, that one feels the most special to me.

What is the Classixx philosophy? Or better yet, simply put, what is Classixx all about?

We are about a couple things. First of all, we really like electronic music and the textures that you can create from using synthesizers and drum machines and all kind of instruments other than traditional organic instruments. We also like to incorporate the organic instruments and combine those two things to get a wide range of sonic ability. Also, timelessness is really important to us. We try to take a lot of care, trying to make sounds that aren’t going to sound really dated in the years to come.

Besides that, what we really are based on is good melody and harmony, and just writing good songs.

How has your touring been going? You certainly seem to have been everywhere!

It’s been crazy. It’s been great. We’ve been doing a lot more live touring. We do a lot of touring as DJs, and have done a lot of touring as DJs before putting out our album because really we didn’t have enough material to play live if we were going to do it. You know, when we DJ, we play other people’s music and mix that together. When we’re playing live, it’s just us.

It’s cool, it’s been interesting to get better at doing it because since we are playing our own music, you’ve only got one set, so you have to win people over, you can’t flip the script like in a DJ set. I think we’ve been getting better and better at it, and also building the production of the show and adding elements, and it’s been really fun. We’ve gotten to build audiences in cities that we might not have gotten to DJ, going on tour with other bands and so we’ve seen different parts of the United States that we hadn’t really seen before and also been able to meet tons of great people that hopefully appreciate our music and the people that we’ve toured and with the bands. We’ve also been super lucky to tour with really talented and fun people.

Anything particularly notable or memorable from the tour?

The way touring as a musician works. It does what it’s supposed to, the more you go out, you’ll come to a town like Charleston, North Carolina, where you have no fans. First time we came there, I don’t think anyone knew who we were. Now, each time, the few times there in the last year, since we’ve opened for a lot of other bands touring through there, each time we come back it’s like we have more people coming up to our merch booth and all that. It’s amazing to see people coming back and your fans becoming loyal and becoming more and more into you. I think that’s what we’ve pulled away from touring, just makes it all worth it because you know it’s actually working, rather than if you keep coming back and it’s the same each time.

What is it like to still be working so closely with one of your childhood friends? Are you more siblings now than anything? Or creatively is it something more that binds you two?

We definitely have a brotherthood and we always have. We’ve been best friends for years and years. The thing that makes us, musically speaking, and besides being great friends, when I have ideas, it doesn’t really take a lot of explaining. I can explain it in a way to him that I wouldn’t be able to explain to somebody else. Not only do we have the same influences and came up with the same people, but we literally came up listening to the same people in the same room on the same record player next to each other, learning about those songs together. Our influences are totally aligned and that makes things easier to get across to each other.

It’s been written that you are considered a prominent group in the new wave of LA electronic music. Has this ever been something you yourself considered? Did you try for this, or did you just make music that you want to make?

At the bottom of it, we just make music that we want to make. That’s all we really think about. There are friends here doing similar things and also friends all over that we’ve become friends with DJing and playing that have been influenced by each other. Our music is somewhat danceable music and it tends to be music that people will play at a pool party or at the beach. I can’t say that being from here (Los Angeles) has nothing to do with it, probably it naturally has worked its way into the fabric of our music.

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You are renowned for your remix talents, can you give us some insight onto how you approach a remix? Do you have an objective, or just hear how Classixx should imprint itself on the original and go from there?

We usually don’t do a remix unless we hear one element that really stands out to us as something that, not only that we like, but as something that we can compliment. If it is a song with a vocal, it’s usually the vocal. In that case, if we hear a vocal melody that we like, we’ll say, “Oh, I know exactly what we can do with that that can recontextualize this thing, in a good way. Sometimes we’ll love a vocal, but it’s perfect in how it is and we don’t have any ideas of where we could take it in a different direction that would make it different, but still really good in a different way. That’s the first thing, and once we do that, we build the song around the vocal or whatever element that we decide to choose from it, as if it was our own song really.

When you collaborate with outside musicians, are they friends? People you are fans of? And, how do you bring them in and make such amazing music?

On our album it was pretty much all friends. It’s more fun that way. On this next record that we’re making, we might try working with some people that we have never really met before. We really do like working with friends because, like I said, you have an understanding. Michael and myself have a saying, there’s a wall that you’ve already broken down there that you don’t have to get over before you start trying to make art together. It’s mainly friends. Nancy is a friend of ours, Active Child is a friend of ours, Jeppe, Jesse Kivel from Kisses.

Can you tell me a bit more about the song Hanging Gardens specifically? It’s such a beautiful piece of music, and feels like it comes from a very special place.

It’s a nod towards Fleetwood Mac. They have a song that we were inspired by the melody from that song. It’s kind of a Fleetwood Mac homage and then it felt like a great intro to the record. It’s almost footsteps walking up, starts with this tapping, tapping, it almost feels the record is walking towards you.

Any new releases coming out that are going to absolutely floor us soon?

We are working on an album. That’s our main focus right now. We’re going in every day, working away on it. We’re not exactly sure when it’s going to be done, but we’re working towards it. I think there are a couple of the songs that will be on that album we will probably release as singles, and that should be pretty soon. I think you can look forward to hearing that stuff in the next few months.

What has been your biggest moment of 2014?

Our biggest moment for us as Californians has been playing Coachella. We really put everything we had into doing that and got a bunch of friends who actually sang on the album to come up and sing with us. Also our families came out and it is this festival we’ve been going to our whole loves and to be on stage playing for thousands of people in basically our home town festival was really really special.

Who or what inspires you? Gets you excited and ready to make amazing music.

Records, we do a lot of digging for records. Listen to old records, new records and just things that turn us on. We’re musicians by nature so we are always wanting to make music anyways, it’s just this driving thing that drives us anyways. The thing that inspires what we actually make is what we listen to, but the people around us. My mom this year, she’s overcome a lot, so that really inspired me to do something important and special too, there’s things like that. Just make something great and make something special.

Be sure to catch Classixx on tour! Also they will be playing a DJ set tonight at Sound in Los Angeles!

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