Live for Live Music founder Kunj Shah had the opportunity to sit down with Krewella at Maya Nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona right before they hit the stage. We discussed everything from the group’s rise to success, Harry Potter, their upcoming collaboration with Travis Barker (Blink 182) & Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy), their new album “Get Wet”, their new stage setup, Jahan’s date with a lucky fan, and more!
So Jahan when you first met Rain Man, what was your first impression and how soon after did you decide you wanted to work together musically?
Jahan: I was actually hammered when I met Kris so I don’t really remember the first impression that he gave me, but we actually went to the same high school. He had this reputation of being this rockstar, he was the lead guitarist in a metal band. So he was definitely such a superstar in the whole highschool metal, rock scene.
Was he the metalhead version of Ferris Bueller in your high school?
Yasmine: That’s funny because Ferris Bueller was filmed at our high school.
Rain Man: Slash my grandmother’s house is like 3 blocks from the house where the car went out of the window.
Wow, that’s awesome!
Jahan: Its interesting, first when I met Kris he was a lead guitarist in a metal band and I’d say a few months later he started programming beats so when I met him was when the whole programming and producing for dance music started.
Rain Man: I’m going through your text messages by the way.
Jahan: He’s looking at your nude photos.
[Embarrassed] What was it like bringing in your younger sister into a relatively, new musical project?
Jahan: At the time when we brought Yasmine in, it was a hobby so we weren’t thinking about this long lasting career yet. We just were in school. It just made it more fun, having family in the group. Yasmine and I have a great vibe when we write, we really compliment each other, so it felt very natural.
L4LM: One of our readers wanted to ask you, as an aspiring producer, when is the right time to quit your job and do you feel there’s a need to drop all other aspects of everything you’re doing and focus completely on music?
Rain Man: Well what’s funny is that I was ghost producing for DJ White Shadow, who worked on the Gaga record, “Born This Way,” and then he fired me. We’re still homies though. But after that moment, I was able to put everything into Krewella. For the first ever, since I’ve been making music, playing guitar or anything, I put everything into Krewella and it turned out…
Rain Man: Yeah!
Three short years ago you guys were singing “Alive” in a closet in your loft in Northbrook, Chicago. It served as a vocal booth and you guys MacGyver’d a make-shift studio. As the song went on to become Billboard’s top 40, did you expect the track to reach that level of mainstream?
Jahan: At the time, we had no idea. We didn’t even have any expectations at the time when we wrote it. But nowadays, Yasmine and I have a better idea of when we write a record that it could be something that’s the next single. But with “Alive” it felt so natural when we were writing it. When we started playing it for everyone, like our managers, Kris’ sister, everyone gravitated towards that song on the EP.
Most artists have a specific memory where they’re sitting in front of a live setting and think, “Hey, I’ve made it!” Where was that for you guys?
Yasmine: I don’t know if we’ve really had that moment. I mean there’s been a lot of moments where it’s been kind of like “holy shit, this is huge,” and a lot of those have been in like Chicago, our hometown.
Rain Man: Spring Awakening!
Yasmine: Yeah, when we play cities like Chicago, places that we started at basically, you see the progression. Those are “holy shit” moments. Where you go from 20 people, to 100, to 1,000, to 5,000, to 20,000. Watching the chronological order of that is kind of like holy shit. But none of us have really let it hit us. We don’t want to slow down yet, at all.
You guys use different sub-genres in music like colors on a palette to paint a picture with your set. Do you think artists limit themselves sometimes by defining themselves as purists in one specific genre?
Jahan: Yeah, given that we have the Internet, access to anything, I think you need to realize as artist you’re completely free to do whatever the fuck you want. And I think what really is going to tie everything together and make it cohesive is if the same hands are in every song. So if its Kris using the same drums sounds or synths sounds it doesn’t matter if he changes the bpm, it still sounds like Krewella and the same with our writing too.
I know you guys have cited groups like Blink 182 and Fall Out Boy as some of your inspirations in the past, you especially (Yasmine). What was it like collaborating with Travis Barker (Blink 182) and Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy) on the new album, “Get Wet?”
Yamsine: Pretty unreal, considering that those are our adolescent heroes and people that we look up to in music. Finally getting to work with them, knowing they’re really invested in your project and they like your music. We were actually in the studio with Patrick when we wrote that song with him. It feels kind of like its coming full circle in a way.
How was that collaboration and how does that work in the studio? What’s the secret to getting all these creative minds working synergistically in the studio without it becoming too many cooks in the kitchen?
Rain Man: We’ve actually got to talk about that because it’s the three of us, then we have two managers who are super helpful with the creative process, and then we have we have our lawyer. We’ll send a song to our lawyer like, “Hey, what’d you think?” He loves music. When the Patrick Stump thing happened, he actually walked right in, said what’s up, went into the room and they just wrote the song over my beat. I was like, “Holy fuck, Patrick Stump is writing a song over my track right now.”
Yasmine: The whole cooks in the kitchen, like too many, that happens all the time. We’ve been in writing sessions with 7 people and its like, “What the fuck is going on right now, who’s doing what?”
Jahan: We usually prefer more intimate writing sessions.
Yasmine: So with that one with Patrick, we literally sat down and had a conversation for 2 hours, we were just talking about shit, shit that was going on in our lives, things that bother us, things that have been amazing, things that inspire us, we were literally just talking not even writing for hours. He was taking notes and from there he just took pieces of what we were writing and was like, ”Do we want to write about this? Is this what the song should be about?” It kind of happened naturally, it just depends who you work with. And if it works or not, if the vibe is good or not.
“Lights and Thunder” with Gareth Emery, made it as bonus track on the album. Are there are any other collaborations that didn’t make it to the album or the bonus tracks, that you hope to release in the future?
Rain Man: We have a song we’ve been working on with Benny Benassi that didn’t make the album. Maybe in the future, maybe a single, maybe something.
You all share the writing credit on the album for “Get Wet.” What’s the creative process or collaboration process for writing the lyrics on that?
Jahan: Let’s talk about the collaborations for example, “Lights and Thunder,” Gareth reached out to us after he heard the Play Hard EP, he said, ”I like your writing style, let’s do a collaboration!” We actually met at a club in Chicago one night. We just talked in the green room, and I’d say a month later he sent us a very rough instrumental, just beautiful arpeggios, it was just an open part note drop but we loved the melody and we just wrote a hook over that, sent it back to him, he started creating a beat around it. Finally we were in LA at the same time, so Yasmine and I went over to his house and worked on the production with him and then he sent something back to us. It was a lot of just like going back and forth until finally the track is what it is today. We’re really excited about it! A lot of it is through the Internet and then having that one little point when you meet in person to kind of discuss the next steps for the song. That’s how that worked out.
You guys have been leaking the track list on Twitter…
Jahan: We’re doing it as we speak!
Is it safe to assume, you like teasing your fans?
Yasmine: Oh! For sure! We love it! It’s awesome seeing people freak out. They’re like “I can’t handle this anymore!”
Jahan: It’s really cool because a lot of our dedicated Krew fans know a lot of these songs from just going on YouTube and seeing these unreleased tracks at shows. We’ll play a lot of unreleased material tonight too.
That’s awesome! In your Fall tour coming up, you guys are going to have “The Volcano” structure? You guys want to let me know anything about it?
Jahan: Yeah, we actually just started rehearsing with it, we’re doing live vocals in the Fall tour and Kris will be playing guitar. So we just started rehearsing in it last week. It feels like a playground, it’s so much fun! It’s absolutely massive.
Rain Man: It’s pretty fucking sick!
Yasmine: We’re going to release a teaser of what it looks like this week. But we can’t really talk about it. It’s going to be completely debuted on tour. I can’t wait for people to see it!
Yasmine, so I know you’re really into Harry Potter?
Yasmine: Yes I am!
If you could chose one character from the series, who would it be and why?
Yasmine: Choose to what? Oh to be? I’m definitely a huge pussy. So I don’t think I would be into the Harry, Ron, Hermione adventure shit. I’d probably end up being someone like fucking Neville Longbottom.
Rain Man: Noooo!
Yasmine: Yeah dude, I’m such a pussy, I can’t go fight dragons and shit.
He comes into his own at the end though.
Yasmine: He does, exactly! So probably him.
So, Jahan, you recently had a contest that you went out on a date with one of your fans? What did you guys do and how was that?
Jahan: My Friday night was fabulous. I went out on a date with a fan. You will actually see footage of it. Yasmine and Kris were at the table across from me. I had an earpiece and they were giving me dares like, “feed my date hot sauce, eat like a cave man,” and eventually they stopped giving me dares and it ended up turning into me just acting completely ridiculous and having no shame at the Hudson in LA.
Jahan’s date with a fan #hugesuccess #KREWLIFE pic.twitter.com/jCKJC6lOnQ
— KREWELLA (@Krewella) August 24, 2013
Rain Man, how did the karaoke gig go? Yasmine, how was rapping on the corner? How many CDs did you sell? (Part of the deal with Jahan taking the date with a fan).
Yasmine: Oh my god. I had to sell 4. That was my quota until I was done and it was so fucking hard.
Rain Man: I woke up the next morning and I literally texted our videographer, “Did I karaoke last night?”
Yasmine: He was really drunk is what he’s saying.
Did you get footage of that too?
Yasmine: There is!
Rain Man: There’s a bunch. I woke up and I was like, “Did I karaoke?” Like I don’t even remember.
Alright thank you guys. We appreciate it
Krewella: Thank you, no we really appreciate it!
[Photography by Tavit David]