Breathe Carolina Talk The Shift Towards Dance Music, Tour & Tips To Avoid Friend Zone [Exclusive Interview]
Breathe Carolina are all about bringing the energy. This was evident upon walking into the Studio at Webster Hall on Tuesday night. Touring with Candyland, Dotcom and Flinch as a part of their Friend Zone Ahead Tour, there was an air of excitement in the crowd who had made sure to arrive early before the show even began at 8 p.m.
Breathe Carolina (or BC for short) apparrel littered the younger audience who got there early and stayed to the very end; even if that end was 10:45 p.m. Brooklyn native Flinch kicked off the party at 8 p.m., mixing things up to start with some deeper, housier selections that would still be accessible to a younger audience and then transitioned to the heavier trap and dubstep tunes that were to be expected from him in a DJ set.
Touring partner Candyland came on next; at least one half of Candyland, Josie battling sickness but her afro was still in full form. Josie hit the stage and crafted a set that transcended genres, quickly mixing back and forth between hip hip, rock and thumping festival designed tracks. Some of the song selection was lazy, like playing the White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" and the mixing was sloppy at times, but when the big drops kicked in, the crowd ate it up. The bigger the drop was, the more they jumped and even moshed. Josie was accompanied by mini Candyland, a dwarf in a skin tight blue costume with an afro wig who danced in a chair for the duration of the set.
The real party started at 10 p.m. sharp, when Breathe Carolina took the stage. David, the lead singer would belt out vocals and urge the crowd along with his enthralling stage presence, Luis and Tommy flanked him on either side with progamming pads and DJ equipment and Eric sat on the drums in the back, shrouded for the first half of the set by left over CO2 sprayed by the Candyland crew. The four of them mixed things up between big, jarring drops that had been a theme during Candyland's set and their own music that required everyone on stage to be involved. When they played their own songs, the crowd belted all of the words, so much so that David could have taken the night off if he had wanted to. Sometimes he would let a full four bars go with the crowd singing.
It must be repeated that the energy in that place was through the roof. Jumping in unison to the beat, the studio had the most passionate Breathe Carolina fans in the area and they gave it their all for the band. Even at the end, people were rushing the stage, either by climbing up or by crowd surfing onto it, but the show went on despite that and BC finished off at 10:45 p.m. to a rousing applause. The club certainly did go up on a Tuesday, though for Breathe Carolina, the club will go up on any day of the week.
Before the show we had the pleasure of meeting up Eric and Tommy from electronic / rock group Breathe Carolina to chat about a whole variety of topics. We talked about their shift over to dance music, how the tour has gone and what was the thinking behind it and their upcoming music, which includes some big collaborations along the way. They also give a PSA on how to avoid the dreaded friend zone or get out of it if you are trapped. Read on to see the full interview.
MT: How have you guys and your music changed since you started?
Eric: Since we started, us as a band we've changed. We've had a member leave and Tommy joining the band, which was a different kind of change of pace, but all for the better. But musically, just progressed and gotten better at what we've done. We started off as an electronic band and now we're moving into the EDM space more and it's just kind of an evolution, everything, and just kind of gotten better at everything that we do.
Tommy: Yeah the first album was made on GarageBand in 2007, and the new album was not made on GarageBand in 2007. That's pretty much it. As software has evolved, so have we.
Eric: A lot of people think that we're a rock band because we have a few guitar driven tracks, but we've always been an electronic band, and just moving more into that space and kind of growing with our audience as well.
MT: Speaking of the members leaving, how have you guys adapted to that, looking back on that now?
Eric: We've adapted pretty well because after our member left, we kind of just, instead of just running with one person being the face of everything, we just embraced the change, and all of us just charged it full force and it kind of, I think it pushed us to do a lot.
Tommy: Yeah, Eric and Lou have been in the band since the first show the band every played, it was really just the two guys somehow ended up being the two guys, but it was always four of them. When Kyle left, it was like alright well now we can all just be what we've been this whole time, and then I joined. It was kind of the natural progression of where things should have gone anyway, I think.
Eric: Yeah, and I think all that change and all that shit we were going through really pushed us to all of us to reach our full potential and really just try to keep on going. Shouts out to all of our fans for supporting us through all of that sh*t, and we're really happy we have all those fans and we can still play shows for all of them.
MT: Moving onto your music, how have you been able to link up with all the producers on your album and how did you choose them?
Tommy: Well for our album, we co-produced it with Ian Kirkpatrick who did "Blackout" and "Hell's What You Make It," and they met randomly at a writing session, and they just clicked.
Eric: Yeah, it just worked out, we were only supposed to write two songs with them and then we just loved the vibe in the studio and we worked really well together, so that was just like a natural relationship and we wanted to keep doing that and now moving forward, it's just, I'll let Tommy take it away from there.
Tommy: Moving forward, we're pretty much going to self-produce it or do collabs with bigger DJ's. We did a song with Candyland; we're working on some stuff with Kennedy Jones, working on some stuff with Gazzo. We have a lot of collabs coming out, and then a lot of our own stuff we're just producing ourselves because we can do that and we want to showcase that and Dave produced the whole first album by himself. Kind of moving forward, labels and stuff getting involved, he kind of lost sight of that, and we're bringing that back. So if you want to talk about going back to the roots, it's like literally going back to we're going to make it ourselves, produce it ourselves, mix it ourselves.
Eric: Make our own music videos.
Tommy: Yeah, we've been doing our own videos, stuff like that, to where we're taking it into our own hands and giving our fans 100 percent what we see and what they want. We're just giving it to them directly from us, not through some machine or 200 people telling us what the fuck to do, it's kind of just like us, and if we're going to do a collab, them, and that's it.
Eric: We just find artists that we like and...
Tommy: Write them on Soundcloud. We literally wrote Candyland on Soundcloud, that's how we met Candyland and now we're best buds and actually read their messages on Soundcloud.
Eric: They wrote us back and now we're on tour together. We have a song out. It's just awesome and I think that's why we like the dance community so much is everybody's so willing to work with each other and do things with each other. Nobody's trying to one up the other person for no reason, and I think that's a really big reason why we're drawn to it.
MT: Does this scene excite you more than the rock scene now?
Tommy: I think it feels more like home to us in a way. The artists that we met, the shows that we played, our music makes more sense than it does on a rock tour. When we play a rock show, we don't play rock songs, so everybody's always been like "oh, it's like a rave at a rock show." Okay, well we just want to play a rave at a rave.
And just visually, our shows have always been, we've always focused a lot on our visuals and all that stuff and bringing that into the dance world, the dance world is all about that too. It's a comfortable fit and it feels more where we should've been from the beginning.
MT: Was it tough transitioning to producing instrumental dance songs without having your own vocals?
Tommy: Not really, no. We've kind of always done it that way. We've always written music as we always just make a dope instrumental and we'll just cut vocals, let the track speak to us and how the vocals should be.
Eric: We've never written from vocal to track, it's always been a vocal over a track. We've never had a dope-ass melody than written a track to it, we've always had a dope-ass track and then written a vocal to it. So now it's just "all right, does Dave sing on this one or is this a remix? Do we have a girl sing on it?" It's more exciting. It doesn't limit us to "it has to be this." It can be anything. I can be a remix, a collab, it can be an instrumental dance track, it can be Dave singing, it can be anybody else singing. It allows us to do so many more things and allows us to release music for free. Do so many things that we couldn't do before. Yeah, we wrote an album, now we'll write another album and give it to you guys in two years. Now it's like, yeah, we put out an album, yeah we put out seven songs out of nowhere, we put out three remixes, a video.
Tommy: We don't need to block out a big section of time to make an album because we can just really work form wherever.
MT: Moving to the tour, what was the idea behind it?
Eric: We just did the song.
Tommy: We just wanted to do an electronic tour, so we had reached out to Candyland and had done the song and just kind of went back and forth deciding on how we could put it together, just kind of ran with it.
MT: And how did you choose everybody on it, besides Candyland?
Tommy: We chose one and they chose one pretty much. They chose Flinch, and Flinch is awesome, we've become like really good friends with them. And we chose Dotcom, pretty much. It was half and half down the middle, and yeah they got to choose one and we got to choose one, that's pretty much it.
Eric: We just picked someone that we thought would fit well with the package.
Tommy: Yeah, it was a really an easy tour to put together. It was like "all right, you guys want this, we want that, what should we call it? All right, that's cool. What's the art? Alright, that's cool. Let's rock."
Eric: And it's nice touring with DJs aside from bands, because right now the entire tour package, we all just ride on the same bus because there's not too many people involved. We just have a bus. We have a drum set and some lights.
Tommy: Yeah it's awesome. That's pretty much it.
MT: What's been the wildest moment of the tour so far?
Eric: Probably tonight is going to be.
Tommy: Tonight is going to be pretty crazy, we met Bassjackers, Dyro and Kenneth G the other night. We were playing a show at the same place and I ended up going to a strip club with them until 4 in the morning and they're just Dutch and crazy. So that was really funny, that was probably the wildest outside of the show moments. It was just a bunch of Dutch guys going to a strip club, being ridiculous, until 4 in the morning. My phone being dead and not knowing how I was getting back to the bus that was parked at Mall of America. I got back, I'm good, I'm here, I'm alright.
Eric: We just had a wonderful day at the mall.
Tommy: Yes, Mall of America was fantastic. Shouts out to Mall of America.
MT: What has been your pre-show mix on the bus? I know you guys had Hardwell as one of your mixes one time.
Tommy: Yeah we listen to Hardwell, pretty much whatever we're DJing. We do a lot of DJ sets, so whatever we're DJing at the moment, like the new Borgeous and Tony Junior song "Break the House," I love that song, I listen to that a lot. "Saviour" by Bassjackers is up there. We'll listen to Carnage of Tomorrowland or some shit, just whatever to get us hyped up.
Eric: And Big Sean.
Tommy: Yeah, lots of rap. We listen to a lot of Hip Hop on the bus as well. We get quite turnt.
Eric: Gets the energy just right.
Tommy: We listen to Eminem rapping over nothing the other day to get hyped. It was some YouTube video that Lou found.
MT: How does one avoid the friend zone? This is a PSA.
Breathe Carolina: Tommy: Set it up from the jump.
Eric: Make your intentions clear from the get-go and don't be a pussy.
Tommy: You got to go for it.
Eric: Make a move.
Tommy: You have to make your move. You can't be like "I'm going to do it today," and then three years down the line, "I'm going to tell her how I feel." No, it is too late. I give you a week, two weeks. If you've gone over two weeks and there's nothing going on, and you haven't remotely made it clear, you are fucked. You are in the friend zone.
Eric: So be extremely clear with your intentions and drive that point home. And if she's not feeling it, then you put her in the friend zone.
Tommy: Better to know she's not feeling it, then to get crushed three years down the road.
MT: Any advice for someone stuck in the friend zone?
Tommy: Dip. Just find someone new. Our new song with Candyland, "Find Someone." I think once you're in it, getting out of it is tough, especially you have to at least step away from it for a while and then come back. You can't just fix that, it's something, once you're friends with somebody you have that natural thing where you don't want to f**k up the friendship.
Eric: I've been in the friend zone, unintentionally, but then end up hooking up with my friend, this is very weird, just kind of stop because it wasn't ever set up to be that kind of relationship.
Tommy: It's always weird, never not weird.
MT: How do you guys approach your DJ sets? Do you know what you're going to play?
Tommy: Kind of. We'll have like the you have to play this, it depends what we're doing too. If we're doing a show, like a DJ nightclub thing, it's a little more we can do whatever we want. But we have a towel residency, so when we approach that, I know for a fact I have to play some of the Beatport 100, stuff like that. We keep it pretty open, we're not limited to anything. We don't just play progressive house, there's nights where we play 95% hip hop because that's what we felt like playing, and it still goes off. We'll play whatever we're feeling and whatever the crowd's feeling.
Eric: Vibe off the crowd a little.
Tommy: We'll give them what they want. We're not going to take Enrique Iglesias requests but we just want the party to go off, so whatever that takes, we'll do. If the girls are dancing and we're having fun, you step into a room, you can play all the house bangers you want, but if the room's not feeling it, that shit is boring as f**k. So you have to switch it up sometimes, but mostly we play progressive house and stuff like that.
MT: What is something people might not know about you guys?
Tommy: We are so good at dancing; no I'm just kidding.
Eric: Something you may not know about me is, I don't know my life's an open book.
Tommy: I was born in Israel, that's something you might not know about me. I have a birthmark on my butt that's the size of a silver dollar. Not exactly but damn near close.
Eric: I've measured it. I don't know, all my business is out there, but I don't like sour cream.
Tommy: He doesn't like sour cream, I love sour cream.
Eric: I don't like anything with the word cream in the name. I don't like whip cream.
Tommy: Ice cream?
Eric: Oh okay. Retracted. Krispy Kreme donuts. Forget everything I said about the whole cream thing.
MT: What are your plans for next year?
Tommy: We would like, and we're going to try, and hopefully we are, take over the world, crack the whole third dimension, nah I'm just kidding, we just saw interstellar at the mall. It's so good. We're going to go heavy into this side of stuff, we're going to try to play all the major dance festivals, all the boutique dance festivals, do more electronic tours, more pretty much all the songs from now on will be based in that genre. I'm not saying we're not going to do, the thing is, we did sell-outs with Danny from .... If we get the opportunity to do a heavier song, or a rock song with somebody that's badass like that, we'll do it. If we can do a song with Korn, like Skrillex did a song with Korn, we'll do it, but we'll probably just, the electronic direction is kind of what we're doing. We're committed to it, 200%.
Eric: Just trying to push it to a whole other level.
MT: Have you already gotten an interest in that, because I know some of the festivals are already being booked.
Tommy: Yeah, we're in the midst of figuring it all out.
MT: Summer ends, next summer books.
Tommy: Yeah, that's how it is always. That's the game, but hopefully have more solid news for you on that in the future.
MT: You mentioned a bunch of those collabs are forward. Do you have more originals coming up?
Tommy: Yeah we have originals coming out, collabs coming out, remixes coming out. We're trying to figure out now where to put them, where they go, do they go for free, stuff like that. The business. The boring sh*t that no one wants to hear about.