Let's face it. We all have a soft spot for those good-feeling anthems. There is something about their uplifting nature that just keeps us yearning for more. Representing Seattle, Washington, The Soundmen is a duo who are slowly but surely snowballing their way to the top. Behind the mask are Justin Jamison and Scott Durday, two friends who have a passion for producing and remixing. They are relatively new, but they are not deterred from the challenge.
The Soundmen have released a plethora of remixes of rising indie bands and artists. They aren't at the magnitude of RAC, but they are definitely not pushovers. Their remixing skill is undeniable, landing them in the top 10 in Hypem popular charts multiple times. Their first major break was back in 2009, when they dropped a Lil Wayne and Grizzly Bear remix EP. The EP's success erupted into colossal proportions, not to mention that they have recently signed a contract with Warner Bros.
Some of their remix victims include Carousel, Panic City, Alison Valentine, and Foster The People. The Soundmen aren't all balls into the remixing game: they have their fair share in the collaboration and production scene as well. Their latest heater was the tune "It's On Tonight", featuring the soulful Jackson Breit.
This is a double-header. In addition to an interview, they have given us the opportunity to first set loose their latest remix. This time, they tinker with "Waves" by Blondfire. For those who don't know, Blondfire is an indie pop band based in Los Angeles. They have an odd, quirky, uplifting persona, which is probably one reason why The Soundmen chose them in the first place. Hit the stream below.
We also recently had a chance to sit down with Scott Durday of The Soundmen to reveal the unknown to the rest of the public. It's windows down and volume up from here on out.
EARMILK: How did The Soundmen come to be?
Scott Durday: I was going to college at University of Washington and was doing some local rap production, and Justin was doing the same thing. We were introduced by a mutual friend and we just clicked. But when we started we really only did rap production. We didn't get into other genres until 2010. Before that we had produced tracks for G Dep, Murda Mook, Ron Browz, Geoligic from Blue Scholars, Poison Pen, Babs from Making The Band, Jae Millz, a ton of rappers. So our roots and where we cut our teeth was all in rap.
EM: So you guys were already neck deep since the beginning?
SD: Pretty much, but in 2009 we just really started experimenting and created a Lil Wayne and Grizzly Bear remix EP called Veckaflyest, which blew up. Rolling Stone wrote about it, and we realized that combining our rap sensibilities with a more electronic and indie approach really connected with people.
EM: Was The Soundmen a side project or was it something that you guys planned on pursuing for the long term?
SD: It’s just always been our production team name. Kind of a play on words since we both grew up on the Puget Sound in Washington.
EM: What were you guys doing before The Soundmen?
SD: Well, before 2010, which was really when we refocused what we were doing in a new way instead of just being rap producers, I was living and working in New York, and Justin had actually just finished audio engineering school. We were both sort of just figuring out how to keep producing but not wanting to deal with simply being beatmakers. I was DJing all over NY as well.
EM: That actually brings me to my next question. I understand that you are currently in New York and Justin is on the West Coast. How do you guys plan, collaborate, and produce?
SD: We've been producing cross-coastal since 2009, actually. We used to use Skype, now we use Google Video chat and basically just run virtual sessions. I'll be making some drums and chopping up samples, J will be playing keys, and we just work together via video chat. So he can be playing something and I will hear it right then and be able to collaborate live, or vice versa, and then we just email bits and pieces back and forth until the track, remix or song is constructed.
EM: That must be pretty tedious.
SD: Honestly, we don't even notice it. With the internet speeds now, it's pretty seamless and often times we will both work separately on things and then connect when it’s time to put the two together.
EM: Most of your time as The Soundmen has been devoted to remixing and occasionally collaborating and producing with other artists, while you guys have only put out one original so far. Is there a reason for a lack of originals?
SD: We really were testing the waters with our solo originals last year with "Funny Feeling", and it was really successful. The reaction from our listeners was great, and we realized it really made sense to take production that we were making for other artists and really focus on using it for ourselves. This year we have an EP coming in the fall of all originals. Each track is a collaboration with an artist, many of whom we have remixed. We've got songs finished with Avan Lava, Brett, Panic City, Rai Knight, and a few more guests soon to be named!
EM: I know you guys love remixing. How do you feel about RAC and what they have done and become?
SD: We love RAC. I think both RAC and Classixx have been huge influences on us, as they really bring actual musicianship to remixing and production. It’s not about a drop, or just something designed for a DJ to play they completely re-image a song, and that's the approach we always take. You can still listen to production and remixes from The Soundmen from 2010 and it doesn't sound dated because we didn't jump on the current remixing or production sound at the time.
EM: You've mentioned prior to this interview that you guys are currently exploring different sounds. What sounds exactly?
SD: We've really just been focusing on almost resurfacing a lot of the techniques we employed in our rap production and blending it with our electronic approach. Incorporating dusty breaks, obvious sampling, but then blending it with our lush synths, then crafting great pop songs around them. You can hear the techniques in a lot of the remixes we've done this year, for Brett and Betty Who specifically.
EM: Would you consider this a way in finding The Soundmen's "sound/identity"? Or would you say you guys have found it already?
SD: Definitely, I think in the last year we've really narrowed down our sound. It’s lush, it’s summery, it’s big, it’s meant to be repeated in your headphones. Our goal is to make music that makes you feel good.
EM: Which artists do you want to collaborate with the most in the future?
SD: Both Justin and I are huge Friendly Fires fans, and Ed Macfarlane has one of the best voices in music, so definitely him.
EM: 2013 has been phenomenal for music so far compared to last year. What is your favorite album that was released this year? And Random Access Memories is not a choice...
SD: Easy, Atu's Pictures on Silence.
EM: And what makes it your favorite?
SD: I think in today's electronic world, unique and original approaches are exceedingly rare, and his approach to sampling was incredible. Taking some of our favorite 90s R&B hits and just creating these lush soundscapes with them. Also Jessie Ware's new album, she is another person that we both love and want to collaborate with.
EM: Well, that about all I have to throw at you. Any last remarks or announcements to close this bad boy up?
SD: The identity is something I think about all the time, and our manager has really really helped since last year in working with us to craft it. Because we like to produce so many different times of music that it is challenging to keep us from going to all over the place. Both Justin and I are pretty ADD.
There you have it, folks. A small inside look into something big. The duo is always on the prowl and always in the thick of things. Whether it's remixes, collaborations, or originals, you're bound to stumble across them in one way or another. Be sure to be on the look out for another 100% original song in the very near future and a release of all of their remixes to date.