If any producers are going to revolutionise pop music in 2017 its Snakehips. The British production duo have gone from underground groove maestros to anthem-makers, bringing genuine, late night jams to radio. They began their run with anti-club opus ‘All My Friends’ before unexpectedly collaborating with giants like Zayn, Anderson .Paak, and MØ. Their collaborators may be huge but it’s their neon-lit, rubbery beats that are really standing out and bringing something fresh to radio.
They’ll return to Australia for Groovin The Moo this year, armed with a potent swag of music and it sounds like they may have even more to show. They have “loads of new stuff” and hopefully they’ll be ready to drop it on us. It seems there’s really no better place to test it out either. As they told us ahead of their third visit in under two years, Australia was one of the first places to be “really onto” Snakehips and they count last year’s Splendour In The Grass crowd as one of the best they’ve ever played to.
You’ve been to Australia numerous times now. Do you have a highlight?
Every time we’ve been out to Australia has been awesome, there’s been so many highlights. The first time we came to Aus was a few years ago, I think it was literally in the first 5-10 shows we’d actually done as Snakehips back then, so it was nuts for us to be on the other side of the world with people digging our music. I think two big highlights was our Splendour set last year which was just so dope, one of the best crowds we’ve ever played to. And then also over NYE 15/16 we did Beyond The Valley festival – it was just after we’d released ‘All My Friends’ and people were really onto it in Australia before anywhere else in the world. Just the reaction we had to playing that tune that night was like the first time we’d ever experienced that many people singing all the words to our song back at us. It was so humbling.
For anyone who saw you last time you were in Oz, what’s changed in the Snakehips set?
We’re always just developing our set and putting new stuff in it. Just trying to keep the vibes good. We got mad new stuff to play since we’ve been out there. It’s gonna be dope.
Are you guys working on an album or are you sticking with singles at the moment?
We’ve been in the studio loads over the last couple months and have got loads of new stuff together. We’re kinda just working out what the best way to release it is and just wanna keep a good flow of new music coming out.
Snakehips songs are some of the most innovative on commercial radio in Australia right now. Are there any other producers in the commercial space that you look up to?
Yeah, there’s loads of people always making cool shit in pop music. People like Diplo and Bloodpop make really sick pop records and then there’s [people] like Cashmere Cat and Benny Blanco who do all kinds of dope stuff.
What’s the process like for you guys? Do you nail the beat before you think of vocalists or do you craft a beat around a vocalist?
It’s kinda different every time,but generally we’ll get a beat to a certain point so it’s in a nice condition for someone to be able to vibe on it. Then after we’ve got a vocal down we’ll go in and finish the beat and work it around the vocals and stuff. Sometimes getting a new vocal idea on something can change the way you look at the tune so the idea can change along the way depending what happens.
MØ sounds incredible on ‘Don’t Leave’. Was there a song of hers in particular that made you want to hit her up?
Yeah, she killed it, we’ve been fans of her for some time. We were really vibing on ‘Drum’ around the time we hit her up about ‘Don’t Leave’, but everything she’s released recently has been dope. We loved ‘Final Song’ and ‘Kamikaze’ etc….
You worked on the collab with MØ online. Do you ever worry about establishing the right connection with an artist when you’re working that way?
I dunno, we always prefer to get in the studio with people where we can but when it’s not physically possible you just gotta make sure you keep the communication open and make sure everyone’s on the same vibe. MØ was awesome to work with though and we kinda just sent ideas back and forth until we got everything just right.
What’s the ultimate test for a new song? Do you play it out live, for friends, in the car?
I think James tests stuff out in the car. I’m so used to listening to stuff on headphones that I always need to take stuff out of the studio and listen on shitty headphones when I’m just walking somewhere to tell if something’s bumping or not [laughs]. Kinda the opposite of what you’d think you’d do.
What’s the key to making a live set exciting when you can’t have the vocalists on stage with you all the time?
I think, just as a DJ, you gotta be able to do your thing. It’s always cool to have singers and stuff but you gotta be able to do it without that.
When you’ve got access to huge artists like Zayn, do you still look for new artists to collab with?
Yeah for sure, we’re still going through Soundcloud and stuff and reaching out to people.
From Maitland to New York, you’re playing some incredible festivals over the next few months. Who is the number one act you’re sharing a bill with and have to see?
Damn I don’t know, can’t remember all the line ups. I think Solange is playing one we’re doing in New York so probably her.
Snakehips will be touring Australia in May. Details here.
Sam Murphy is contributor for Acclaim. He lives in fear this his favourite song will be given a trop-house remix – @sam_interns