BroBible: You guys recently released “Happy Hour (Office Theme Remix),” we're going to go ahead and guess that the lyrics are inspired by true events. True?
K: True. I started working at the New York City Mayor's Office before we signed our pub deal with Warner. It was a great job but the whole time I knew I should be focusing on music fulltime. We were doing shows up and down the east coast, driving back into the city at 5 am from Philly or DC so I could get to work in the morning. And then I'd be sitting in my cubicle, hungover and on zero sleep, like, “Is this really the best use of my time right now?” I quit a week after writing the song. The last line of the first verse says it all.
We also heard a little dubstep in there…more to come from that genre?
1L: YES. But actually, more to come from every genre. Primarily French polka.
We've got to talk about “Airplanes,” at least a little bit. What's it like hearing your song on the radio? Do you think B.o.B did your song justice?
K: Of course he did our song justice. You know how many people knew our version of “Airplanes” when we released it? Maybe a couple hundred – mostly friends and kids we went to school with. You know how many people know the B.o.B version? Six million. B.o.B took a cool song concept and flipped it into a smash that the entire world knows. How could we possibly complain? I see all these blog comments like, “They should have never let this song go – biggest mistake of their career,” or “Can't believe they let Atlantic take this.” Seriously? Atlantic didn't take anything – they hooked us up. Our names are still attached to the song as songwriters. We still control a portion of the publishing. That song is the reason we're able to do what we do now.
Are you OK with not performing your own songs?
K: You mean are we cool with selling our songs to other artists? Yeah man, that's our job. It's cool because we can mess around with different styles and write hooks we'd never use for ourselves – anything from urban to dance and even some pop-motown in one case. An artist is only one artist. A songwriter can be 20 different artists.
What's the most interesting/absurd story from your dealings with the recording industry thus far?
K: I'll never forget this one phone call I got from Atlantic, right around the time “Airplanes” dropped. I had just gotten out of the subway on my way home from work when my manager calls me like, “So Eminem is going to be featured on B.o.B's album – he heard all the tracks and wants to do a Part II to 'Airplanes.'” If you've ever listened to any of my songs before, I'm sure you can hear traces of Em's flow in mine. He's always been my favorite rapper, and I swear it has nothing to do with the fact that we're both white. His level of wordplay and clever lyricism have impacted almost every verse I've ever written. So to hear someone that has inspired me that much spit a verse leading into a chorus that I wrote, that's on some next level absurd shit.
1L: B.o.B asking me “DO YOU REALIZE YOU'VE CHANGED THE COURSE OF MUSIC FOREVER?!?!” (true story).
How are you adjusting to life in New York City?
K: It hasn't really been much of an adjustment… I was always visiting my father in Manhattan growing up, so NYC was always my second home, even when I lived upstate. But I'm definitely excited to be living here full time. We have a great crew here, we're working with a lot of cool NYC-based musicians, I like the venues, I like how everything stays open all night. We were recently on tour out in Cali and I got to chill in LA for the first time. I love LA, amazing city, but it just bugged me out how everything shut down so early. And how you always had to drive to get to the next spot. Still, I can see myself moving to the West Coast in a few years – I'm just trying to soak up NYC as much as possible in the meantime.
1L: Even though a drink averages $79, most recording studios are the size of my closet, and the streets smell like shit (literally feces), I gotta admit I really do love New York.
Many of your peers are either in college, or just graduated. For many of them, their music is a side project. Are you different? Is this your career?
K: Yes. This is absolutely my career. I work from home, I'm out until 4 every night, and I'm still working more hours per week and getting more sleep per night than I was when I was working a desk job. I couldn't possibly go back.
That being said, do you ever miss college?
K: Of course.
Who are you hoping to work with in the future?
K: Man, I would love to spit on a Skrillex or Rusko beat. I would love to drop a track with a verse from Cassidy – also one of my favorite rappers. I'm bumping the new Chiddy Bang album right now and it's crack. I think it would be cool to write a song where Chiddy spit over a beat that was produced mostly by One Love, and then for the second verse the beat would change slightly and I'd spit over something that Xaphoon produced. Throw Ellie Goulding or Adele on the hook and hashtag that as NLS.
Tim, your musical background tended to stay away from hip-hop. What was that transition like? Do you still work with other genres? Which ones?
1L: I picked up piano when I was 5 and drums when I was 10, and haven't gone a day without playing some kind of instrument. I studied classical theory at school and rock/jazz/reggae bands were always my main gig, until I met Kinetics. He introduced me to hip-hop and I've since come to love it; I love hearing it but more so I love making it. Having a background in mad other genres is a great foundation for hip-hop because when I start a new project, I feel like there's an infinite amount of directions I can take the sound, blending any number of genres in any way possible. But of course “bands” will always hold a special place in my heart and you can definitely expect to see me behind the drum kit on a worldwide tour with some super-sweet legendary band in the future.
So what's your favorite non-hip-hop artist?
1L: Then: 311/Smashing Pumpkins. Now: too many to name but lately I cannot stop playing Foster the People's album as well as this dude Madeon's remixes, both some serious crack.
Let's get serious. Who's winning the NBA Finals?
1L: What's the NBA?
Where do you guys plan on being a year from now?
K: In NYC, writing and recording all the time. Doing shows across the country, like we are now but more frequent and for larger crowds. With another hit song on Billboard.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting news you want to tell your fans?
We have a bunch of exciting releases coming up. We're featured on Chris Webby's new mixtape that's about to drop. We have a song with Hoodie Allen dropping soon. In the next couple of weeks, we'll be releasing a video for a song called “Be Easy” with our homies Loggy and Josh Cocktail. That project will be really cool because we filmed half of the video here in New York and the other half out in Cali when we were chillin' with Loggy's crew. We just released a rap battle that we staged with Jamal Woolard – the guy who played Biggie Smalls in the movie Notorious. I'm a huge fan of Grind Time battles so that project was a lot of fun to film. You can find it online by searching for “Platform H Rap Battle.” And last but not least, this week we are releasing our first ever music video for “Will You Be Remembered?”
Here it is: