Say hello to Jamie Leffler and Robert Cepeda, the coffee drinking, fire escape loving duo that goes by DWNTWN. They really like drinking coffee on fire escapes. I can see the appeal of that activity. And they eat a lot of Mexican food and McDonalds—not on fire escapes, though. Same here! The two recently got into cooking fancy foods like chicken pesto sandwiches and three-cheese lasagna (all of which sound pretty tasty at the moment), which I’m sure helps balance out all the chicken nuggets they eat. The two typically spend more time talking about exercising than actually doing it. Is that always the case? They dig animals—they’ve got a dog-named Wolfy (short from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) and a cat named Iggy (named after the legendary Iggy Pop, of course). If these two aren’t working on music or a video you could probably find them either at Urth Caffé Downtown or skating at the secret spot. Not sure why they’re being all cloak-and-dagger about the “spot” but they are.
If you’re in LA, they’ve got a few shows coming up. Tonight they’re playing at Dim Mak Studios with Penguin Prison, on Nov 21 they’re at Bardot for School Night with Little Boots and on Dec 13 they’re playing with their buddy DJ Skeet Skeet at Dim Mak. And for a simple Facebook “like” you can download their mixtape Midnight Ride for free. We think you should do it.
I think we both kinda thought that it was just going to be horrendous, but we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Like they say, it’s worth taking a shot, but teaching a horse to fish is nearly impossible.
"Believe Me" (RMX) (right click save as to download)
How would you describe your sound to a deaf person?
Jamie: When describing our sound to a deaf person I’m pretty sure we would use sign language. Unfortunately the only sign I know is for poop.
What was your favorite toy as a child and when/why did you stop playing with it?
Robert: My favorite toy as a child was in fact a collection of toys, my Ninja Turtle collection! I freakin’ love those guys…I mean loved those guys…I definitely do not still play with them all the time.
Any colorful incidents involving a fan?
Jamie: We have this fan that has never missed a show. She’s always there jumping up and down and clapping in the front row—I’ve even seen her get all teary eyed. She really loves us. I mean… I know she’s my mom and all, but a fan is a fan.
Favor us with a moment in life that changed the course of, or defined, your aesthetic philosophy.
Robert: After writing our first song together we both had a moment where we realized that we might be making something worthwhile. I think we both kinda thought that it was just going to be horrendous, but we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Like they say, it’s worth taking a shot, but teaching a horse to fish is nearly impossible.
Your creative arc. Alpha to omega, go.
Robert: Our music writing process is comprised of many steps or letters in this case. Our alpha consists of the accidental catchy melody while I add some basic chords to it. Beta, Jamie writes some lyrics while I turn those guitar chords into a synthy-electro track. Gamma, we record it all in logic and by the time we’re done mixing we hate it and wonder why we recorded the song in the first place. Delta through Omega involves us reworking, tweaking sounds, melodies, fighting, crying.
Jamie: Usually it’s Robert crying…but we finally end up with something we’re proud of.
The movement from CD to MP3 was a big paradigm shift in the music biz. Crystal ball time. What will be the next big shake up? How are you going to come out on top?
Jamie: I think that soon all music is going to be free. Most people already download it for free anyway, and record sales have been on the decline for so long that it kinda has to happen. I’m sure that record companies won’t just disappear, but the whole music industry seems to be at a transitional point, where money now needs to be made in other ways, everyone is looking to find a way to capitalize while…
Robert: …Bored! What Jamie’s trying to say is that the only two ways to get paid is by either getting your music placed in a KIA commercial and/or playing a ton of shows.
Do you think there are any commonly held societal beliefs that are false?
Robert: Yeah, people often say that everything in New York is expensive… We were just there for CMJ and do you know how many $1 pizza and $1 dumplings places they have? I only spent $5 on food for the whole week.
Jamie: Yeah and then I bought you the rest…
Robert: Oh right. Thanks.