Interview: Two Friends
Two Friends, the EDM duo of Matt Halper and Eli Sones, childhood friends who have turned their passion for music into a highly successful career, earning them awards and accolades, have a drive that is sure to inspire anyone who hears their story.
After Louis Tomlinson's first single, Just Hold On, with EDM king Steve Aoki was released in December 2016, it quickly rose up the charts in both the EDM and Pop world, prompting a series of amazing remixes including one by LA based producers, Two Friends.
With over 650,000 streams on Spotify and more than 400,000 plays on Soundcloud, Two Friends' remix of Just Hold On has proven to be a must have on every playlist. The remix takes the upbeat House song and drags the tempo down to a future-bass feel.
Currently in the midst of their Emily Tour across the US, Eli Sones, one half of Two Friends, took time out of his hectic schedule of touring, writing and producing to chat with us about their current projects and the making of their Just Hold On remix.
You’ve put out a single featuring James D called Emily. The tour you’re currently on is called Emily as well. How’s it all going?
It’s going great. Emily is our most recent original single that we put out at the end of April. Starting at the beginning of May and then continuing in through the summer, we’ve been on the Emily Tour. It’s been awesome. There’s a ton of new cities that we’re making our debuts in that we've been hoping to play in for quite a while. It’s great that we’ve been able to travel to these new places and meet all of these new people.
How crazy is your schedule?
It varies depending on what days we have shows and what part of the country we’re going to. For this tour, it’s pretty much all in the US. Sometimes we’ll have Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night all back-to-back and those can definitely get a little crazy with the travelling and airports. We’re not on a bus, where we’re constantly on the road. We do get time in between the weekends where we can come back and relax a little, work on music, and then head back out the following weekend.
How do you balance creating new music and performing?
It’s definitely tough. In the past year, we’ve increased the time we’ve been touring. As we started doing even more shows, we knew we were going to have to get on a stricter schedule. We’re not really the best at producing on the road. There are some producers and DJs that kind of have producing on the road down. Even on an airplane, they can pull out their laptop and be really productive. We’re getting better at it, but we’re definitely at our best when we’re in the studio with a lot of space and not in a crazy environment. We prioritize what music we need to work on and decide on what can wait until later. It’s something every touring DJ has to grapple with but I think we’ve got a pretty good workflow.
How did you get into DJ'ing and music production?
Matt and I have been best friends since we were about 12 years old. We both grew up in Los Angeles and went to school together. We were friends first, before we had any idea of whether or not we wanted to make music together. At the end of high school, there wasn’t as much work anymore and we had some free time. We knew we had backgrounds that complimented each other nicely: Matt has been playing guitar his whole life and is pretty experienced with music theory and I was starting to dive into DJ’ing and making mashups. It started pretty naturally, where there wasn’t much of a plan or any goals, really. It was more like: “Hey, we’re both best friends, we both like music, this could be a fun thing to try”. We kind of just went for it. It was so fun that we kept spending more time on it and taking it more seriously. We got to a point where we were like, wow. Not only is this fun, but things are going well and some cool opportunities are happening. We should go for this. We graduated college about two years ago. Day one after graduation was day one in the studio full-time.
How would you describe your style of music?
That’s a good question. I think for us, we’re experimenting with different sub genres and not trying to feel boxed in to one style or one tempo. Even as we do expand some of the styles that we’re working on, we do try to keep that signature Two Friends touch to whatever we work on. A lot of the time, that comes down to songwriting. We typically write our songs ourselves or write it with the vocalists that we’re working with. For the majority of our songs, we try to record Matt playing live guitar and sometimes other live instruments. We work with saxophonists a lot, we’re trying to incorporate trumpets in some of our upcoming stuff. In general, I’d say our music is music that gets you moving, gets you dancing, but also resonates on an emotional level, as well. It’s music you can play at shows, at clubs, at parties, at work, in the car. It kind of works in all worlds.
What’s your process when you approach a remix?
There’s not one formula that works when we’re about to work on a remix. Just Hold On was a song that we heard and loved it so much. It’s such a cool song and we wanted to see if we could put our own spin on it. We talked to our team and we were able to get our hands on the acapella to work with and some of the other stems. For Just Hold On, it started with Matt playing a little guitar. What he was playing was catchy and we realized it could be the basis for at least the chorus of the song. We started with that guitar riff and added the vocals on top. The vocals were so great. We wanted to make sure the vocals shined through and didn’t end up in a separate world from what the original was like. We started with acapella from the vocals and designed the rest of the track around it. We slowed down the tempo compared to the original and made it a little more future-bass.
with over 650,000 streams on Spotify, the reaction to the song has clearly been a positive one, both from your fans and from louis' and steve's. Have you seen much of the response?
Just Hold On was definitely a really fun remix to put out. I think our own fans were happy to see this new take on a song that they had heard on the radio. It was cool for them to see us put our own take on it. Another great reaction was seeing all of Louis’ and Steve’s fans getting introduced to us and it’s been great. Not only were a lot of them excited when the song came out, but a lot of them have stayed engaged and involved even when we put out a remix even now. It’s been awesome.
We’d like to thank Eli for taking the time to chat with us. We wish Two Friends every success with the rest of their Emily tour and can’t wait to hear what these talented lads have next for us!
Interview conducted by: Rachel.
Edited by: Miya.