Once we found what we liked and the direction we wanted to go in we ended up scrapping a lot of sick songs…they just didnt represent us personally.
Do you have Designer Drugs' debut album, Hardcore / Softcore? It's pretty damn special so pick it up if not—it came out on Ultra Records in February 2011. If you think you have Michael Vincent Patrick and Theodore Paul Nelson pegged by their remix work (the poppier end of the musical spectrum) Hardcore / Softcore might just surprise you as the duo explores a darker side to their musical palate. We caught up with Michael Vincent Patrick for a quick chat. He's currently killing a few days in New York City between tour dates and was kind enough to set aside a bit of time for us. We talk flying first class, getting wasted, having panties thrown at you and joining the mile-high club—a small slice of Designer Drugs' life. BTW, they just released a new video for their tune "Leather Gang," which we can watch at the end of this interview.
Hey Vincent, thanks for making the time. Take a quick second to introduce yourself to our readers.
What's up Magnetic peeps, this is Michael Vincent Patrick from Designer Drugs. I'm currently spending a few days in New York City between tour dates in Europe and the USA. I spent the day hanging out and shopping with my girlfriend at my favorite shops: Seven, Bess and Oak. Last night I went out with Alvin Risk to a small bar called Lit where Prince Terrance from Hussle Club DJd. I'm from a very rural area in Pennsylvania but live in NYC—although I'm currently on a hiatus in the mountains of (Wild and Wonderful) West Virginia where I locked myself in the studio to finish producing our second album. Theo is studying medicine there and we never actually lived together so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to move in with him and set up shop. So far it's been fucking sick. We are producing way faster and don't have any distractions and have more time to experiment and learn new shit. In the WV house, Sigma Epsilon Chi, we have a full cast of characters, Myself, Theodore aka The Nelson, Thomas Kee of PLS DNT STP, Jesse aka Black Matter and the High Priest (the name speaks for itself). We occasionally bro down to a Romantic Comedy but for the most part it's 3 studios, grinding trance, happy hardcore and dubstep at full blast.
You guys are known for epic remixes by an eclectic group of artists, why did you guys go the remix route rather than creating original productions? Was strategy involved?
We started doing remixes because we really never did them before. I think before Designer Drugs I've only tried remixing two songs, but when we started DD the remix thing was huge so we tried it and it was fun. Once we did maybe two or three remixes people started commissioning remixes from us and I was really fucking broke at the time so I took everyone I could get my hands on. The paying remix requests came in non-stop for the next three years. By this point we started to get sick of doing remixes and really wanted to do an album.
How long did it take you guys to create Hardcore / Softcore? Did you feel pressure to get the album out?
Some of the songs on the album were three years old. It took forever because we were constantly touring, every weekend, all year for three or four years and we didn't live together. We also didn't have a clear direction of what we wanted to do so we just picked our favorite ideas and worked towards finishing them. Once we found what we liked and the direction we wanted to go in we ended up scrapping a lot of sick songs. They were great songs they just didn't represent us personally.
We kinda just went with it and took it as far as we could without killing ourselves. The whole thing was very hazy and hedonistic.
Other than individual influences, what parts of society impact your creative process? For instance, youth culture, social issues, a fear of the world ending, food? How do these things help create a melody or explain the state of this society through sounds rather than words?
I would say alcohol really inspired Hardcore / Softcore hahahaha. We were fucking partying like crazy at the time, living the dream all that shit. Flying first class, getting wasted before the show, getting wasted at the show, getting wasted at the afterparty, having girls throwing their panties at us and then having drinks for breakfast. It was really a big shock for us getting thrown from our normal lives into four years of non-stop touring, and being the guest of honor at parties every night around the world on top of getting paid to do it. So we kinda just went with it and took it as far as we could without killing ourselves. The whole thing was very hazy and hedonistic. It was like giving two kids a ton of money and saying, “do whatever the fuck you want. There are no rules anymore” So we just did the NYC thing.
It's pretty funny looking back on it and talking about the stories. I'll be on my deathbed laughing my ass off at some of the shit we did for sure.
How would you guys describe the dynamic of your relationship? In what ways do you guys inspire one another?
We usually inspire each other by working out and getting buff. We've always had the same aesthetic for music and melodies and that helps a lot. We hear things in our head very similarly. As far as a working dynamic, I usually take in most of the production duties because Theo is very busy with medical school so I focus on getting as much writing done with him then I'll try and produce, arrange and engineer his musical ideas. Some songs I do entirely alone. Basically, him or I write the song then I work towards finishing them. I also work a lot with Thomas Kee from PLS DNT STP (Sex Cult Records) when Theo is busy. He is a great engineer and really motivated and talented and keeps me working.
Its like a lucid dream, you can control it but at the same time it comes naturally.
What the best thing about being a duo group? Is there a downside to it?
No downsides for us really. It's cool because we've know each other for half our lives and we been through growing up and dealing with all kinds of crazy shit so we're like family. I can't remember a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with out Theo.
What current electronic artists do you guys find intriguing and would like to work with?
Crystal Castles are pretty much the only one that really interests me. A lot of people are doing great shit but it just seems very standard and formulated to some specific niche. But I'm stoked that Crystal Castles did something cool successfully. Most popular shit is good but not very cool or artistic in my opinion. Also, I think Diplo is on that same shit. He keeps it fucking real and went big keeping it real so there is something to say for people like that.
Once I took way too much acid and listened to Mysteries of Funk for hours and I could see every instrument and understand its relationship to the rest.
What percentage of your skills were you born with? How did you go about acquiring additional skills? Learning from others? Teaching the self?
I just had a conversation with my girlfriend where I said that I had no talent and that it's all just hard work but she disagreed so I guess it's half and half. I mean the songs just come to me in my head but you need hard skills to apply it. You need to learn how to play the instruments, read sheet music, use the programs and engineer the songs. That's all stuff I taught myself by reading books and talking to friends, but the songs and melodies are inherent. It's like a lucid dream, you can control it but at the same time it comes naturally
Favor us with a moment in life that changed the course of, or defined, your aesthetic philosophy/position.
Once I took way too much acid and listened to Mysteries of Funk for hours and I could see every instrument and understand it's relationship to the rest and with that very visual experience I decided that I could produce so I just kind of went with it.
Discuss a musician or an era which has influenced you. When and how did you come upon what moved you?
Late ‘90s raves definitely inspired us. We were really young and the east coast had some pretty dark ghetto rave shit going on. Rave gangs and stuff like that. Sounds hilarious in retrospect but we really got into some wild shit back then and listened to a ton of music. It was back when things were much more raw. The tools the producers had were archaic in comparison to what we have today and it showed in music which was much more raw and ghetto.
We want to bottle you guys up in a scent, what should we call it?
St. Marks dirtbag chic. We roll around the east village and the lower east side a lot and get to see the seedier part of society. Dope heads, people scamming and trying to get by—I can kind of see that in our music. But that meets with high fidelity production and sort of contradicts itself.
I have a deaf friend that wants to know what your music sounds like, what should I tell him?
I would describe it through pictures like these. It's similar to above…kinda dirty and wild but somehow clean and crafted.
[Check Michael Vincent Patrick’s Tumblr for more inspired images. –ED]
If you were starting out now, would you do anything differently?
Nothing really. We just went at it blindfolded and what happened happened. You can't change the inevitable.
What’s the secret to your success? We will accept any secret if you have not yet found the former—i.e. success.
Promotion. Listeners are presented with so much shit, if you don't present yourself you won't be heard.
I loved Rock'em Sock'em Robots as a child. What toy did you like? Do you still play with it?
Probably a skateboard. I still skate today.
CD to MP3 was a big change for the music biz. Look into your crystal ball, do you see the next big shake up? How are you going to come out a “winner?”
I don't see any correlation between music and business. I'm always winning.
It’s funny when people play dress up with animals. Do you have a pet?
I don't but I want a black Goth poodle. I think it would be funny.
Flying on planes is extreme boredom me. Is it ever fun for you?
Yeah I spend a few weeks a year trapped inside a plane. I was admitted into the mile-high club last year if that's what you’re getting at.
Has a fan ever gone Jackson Pollock on you and made life colorful?
We love our fans. We've had bras and panties thrown at us which is cool. We usually throw them back into the crowd, for interaction sake but recently when I was hanging out with the guys from Villains after the show I opened my DJ bag to give them a Serato control discs or something and I found a pair of pink panties a fan slipped into my bag. That was hilarious we were fucking ROTFL.
Have you ever had a brush with the paranormal or supernatural?
I communicated telepathically before, that was pretty weird. I've also had some pretty crazy out of body experiences and lucid dreams.
What’s the most disturbing event you’ve bore witness to?
Watching people try to kill themselves. I've seen that a couple times with people I loved very dearly. I've also watched people deal with addiction which is pretty bad because no matter how hard you try to help there is nothing you can do. It's something they have to take upon themselves in order to overcome it. It's something they need to choose.
Talk about the most hectic conflict that you’ve been involved in. What position on the heap did you occupy in at the end?
Just gotta try to do the right thing.
Commonly held societal beliefs… go.
Most of them are false. Haha.
How will you feel six months after your heart stops beating?
Haha I'm pretty sure I won't be feeling anything.