Two of our favorite DJs on working together and humanity’s need to work together to survive.
NYC vet Nick Hook and Teklife’s DJ Earl know a thing or two about the magic you can create in collaboration. Hook’s 2016 Fool’s Gold debut Relationships found him consorting with artists from Novelist and Hudson Mohawke to 21 Savage and FACT favorite Rahel. Earl, of course, is a member of one of the most innovative crews in dance music and has helped to bring footwork across the globe. Both have robust creative minds on their own, but with 50 Backwoods, a project they completed together in just seven day, they’re proving the old adage “two minds are better than one” applies to the club, too.
Hook and Earl are so in sync, they answered questions for this interview almost entirely as one unit. Check it out below along with the video for their track ‘Mood Right Now’, directed by Jabari Canada and Weird Dane.
Tell me a little bit of background on the 50 Backwoods project. As two DJs and producers who always seem up for adventure in your compositions, how (aside from weed, I’m assuming) did this become the path you traveled?
We really connected and we’re inspired by each other, so we decided to see what would happen if we got in a room together with the goal of making an album in a week. We had never been in a studio together and we just felt like it was something we were both ready for. When we got in the room it morphed into something else, and it really was a massive growing experience for us.
Our approach to creation is to use everything we’ve every processed in our lives – whether it be music we each grew up on, rhythms heard while traveling, shit coming out of cars – and use all of that when you are in a room with someone. The real goal every time is for both of us to let go of everything and let all that channel through the music that is outside of both of us. It’s when 1+1 becomes 3. The most exciting thing about this project is that since we made it so quickly and put it out so quickly after it was finished, it reflects who we are right now. We get to share ourselves and our journey with the people we are connected with right now.
You’ve got a few guests on the album. How did those collaborations come about?
The only true rule for us was not to work with people we worked with in the past. We wanted to challenge ourselves because every time you get into a room with someone you’ve never worked with, we all become vulnerable. Everyone is a little nervous, but then you realize the beauty of all that is getting through it. Both of us had been on a path to work with Wiki for quite some time. Same with Melo-X.
You guys are touring together this month. How is that going? I know you’re both used to communal performances, so what is your chemistry like together? Who’s bringing what and how do you balance?
It’s been amazing because there is some sort of extra magnetic power when we roll together. We both have that in a sense by ourselves but when we are together we both feel it magnify. That’s made it fun, to be able to lean on each other while operating because we are both used to doing it on our own. It’s allowed both of us to become more fearless in projects since and believe in ourselves that more more. It’s kinda hard to explain but you see that the infinite is real. Once you break a wall that you’ve been trying to break for a certain time you can get to the next one and keep moving.
Tell me a little bit about this video for ‘Mood Right Now’.
Nick did a workshop with Guitar Center that was filmed. He ended up sharing an Uber with Jabari Canada, one of the dudes that helped film the workshop, and they just bonded. Things got busy and we didn’t talk but when we started teasing the 50 Backwoods stuff on Instagram, he hit me on DM and I sent him the music. Right away he asked to do a video. We had never seen any of his work but the vibe felt right, the music hit him in a certain way, so we put our palms up and said lets go for it. We had a great time running through NYC getting shots. The guy in the bodega we got the Backwoods from teaches us about amazing Syrian music every time we go in there. We just wanted to capture how it felt to be in the studio with us and most people that have heard the song it takes them to a certain place in life.
If you could change anything about this year, what would it be? (Tall order, I know.)
We wouldn’t change anything. We can only control ourselves and the present so we need to take action on that. All of this is happening for a reason. We all collectively need to wake up, prioritize what’s important for us as one world. Not as individuals but as one earth. We still have faith in humanity and people in general. We also believe the shift we are all looking for in the positive way isn’t actually that far off It can happen just as fast to turn around as all the stuff that isn’t so tite. Our reaction to everything that was going on was for us to get into the studio for a week and see what happened. It made us turn off our devices and look at each and say, Let’s do this. First it led to some music, now some shows, now some videos, now some interviews, and it’s amazing to see that we can create that light form nothing. It’s amazing to see what you can truly get done when you block out the noise and believe in yourself. We hope that light can spread.
Nick Hook’s favorite albums of 2017
Migos – Culture
Alice Coltrane – Journey in Satchidananda
Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
Run the Jewels – RTJ 3
DJ Earl’s favorite albums of 2017
Death Grips – Steroids (Crouhing Tiger Hidden Gaber)
Suzi Analogue – Zonez v.3
Ab-Soul – Do What Thou Wilt
2 Chainz – Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
Kelela – Take Me Apart
Jhené Aiko – Trip
ZGTO – A Piece of the Ghetto