By: Sterling Martin
The world of dance music is evolving as fast as the technology—from programs, to digital instruments, to social media—and the resources for an artist to cultivate their brand have never been more accessible. Artists can even collaborate together in real time from different continents, while streaming it live for their fans. These elements only add to the community atmosphere found between artists and their fans in the electronic music world. Back to back sets are another way for guaranteeing fun for crowds as well as the performers. After all, the more the merrier, right?
Statik Link, a duo comprised of Dan Dwyer and Josh Andres, first joined forces for one of these back-to-back (B2B) sets a night in Chicago back in 2011. Their 100HRTZ EP gained huge success on the Beatport charts in 2014, and further the Instant Party! remix went on to snag the crown for the number one hip-hop track in 2015.
Since then, the two have grounded their distinct trap sound in a lane of their own. Their music has evolved continuously, leading up to their most recent Renaissance EP, which was released last month. The release spans a variety of subgenres. Not only does the entire EP have a cohesive feel to it, but it also avoids any trap or electronic stereotypes with its originality.
From their first single, “Black Lotus,” to the fifth and final track “Oh Know!,” the EP displays a couple of interesting features along with a great deal of versatility.
I had the chance to catch up with Josh Andres of Statik Link to discuss the duo's formation, influences, and more.
Where are you from, and how did you get into production?
I’m from Toledo, OH. It’s about 45 minutes south of Detroit. I live in New York City now. I moved to NYC in early 2014, but had been visiting the city for work in the industry since about 2008. At the time, I was visiting NYC five to six times a year before the move. I had always wanted to move to the city to better my career. I felt like I was limited in what I could do in Ohio. The internet opened up a lot of possibilities for networking, communicating with other artists, and getting work, but I felt like I could do more with face to face communication and networking. I took the leap of faith to concentrate on music in 2014, leaving behind a 60K-a-year job. It was rough at first, but I knew that if I ever wanted to make a living doing what I loved, I had to take the chance. I’ve been extremely lucky to have done well for myself in the city and make a living off of music. Our production career has drastically changed since the move. We’ve been granted more opportunities to let our music shine through licensing work, working on remixes for the A$AP Mob, and have met some other incredibly talented artists that we’ve had the pleasure of working with.
Before joining forces as Statik Link, what were each of you up to before 2011 as solo performers?
I was producing and performing under a different name from about 2007-2011. I worked almost exclusively with a good friend of mine, Big J Tha White Wonder, who has been featured on all of our EPs. I worked primarily in hip-hop and rap music. That’s what started my trips to NYC. Big J Tha White Wonder had been working on a new album that had required us to travel to NYC. J’s career introduced me to a lot of the people I work with today. It wouldn’t be until 2010 that I would be introduced to Electronic Music by my friend MING, who I had been working with in NYC. He introduced me to dance music and explained to me how my production style had some similarities with dance music. In 2011, I started to transition to dance music. I started Statik Link with a local DJ and very talented friend of mine, Rob Sample. We decided a year after we started the group that we should go our separate ways due to creative differences. I had been working with Dan on a side project at the time that was not associated with Statik Link. After the split with Rob, we decided, due to the amount of money I had put into marketing the Statik Link name that we would continue on with the use of the name.
Which leads to the B2B set in Chicago’s Porn n Chicken—looking back on that night, what can you remember specifically? Did you guys have a past/relationship at all before that night?
Josh: Crazy story actually [laughs]. Dan and I did not know each other prior to meeting one time before our B2B set at Porn n Chicken. I had been visiting Chicago for a work training program that required me to be in Chicago one week per month over a five month period. An old high school classmate of mine, Faith, that I hadn’t seen in years, had moved to Chicago. I had been talking with her over Facebook and we decided to meet up one night while I was visiting for work. While we were kicking it, I told her I wanted to be involved more in the Chicago nightlife and was looking for some gigs in the area. She was familiar with my music and told me about Porn n Chicken. After she explained the party, I had to see it, haha. She knew Dan through the party and introduced me to him. One thing about Dan, and something we share, we don’t have egos when it comes to our music. Good music is good music to us. I had sent Dan a demo of the tracks I was working on and he was digging what I was doing. He got me in to play a B2B set with him. Dan had recently been working on a new EP with his drum n bass group, The Sleepers, which I was really fucking with. After the B2B set, he sent me the stems to remix one of the tunes. It would be shortly after that we would start to work on a trap/bass project together.
Tell me about signing with Dirty Duck Audio. How did it feel to have your hard work and time actually go noticed on an official scale?
Josh: I remember being super amped when we signed our tracks with Dirty Duck Audio. They had been releasing a good amount of bass music and were constantly charting on the Beatport Hip-Hop Top 100. They had also been working with Gold Top, who was one of the artists Dan and I were playing a lot in our DJ sets at the time. Harrison and Alex are really cool dudes. They worked hard on our debut EP, 100HRTZ, getting us placements with EDM Network and many other sites. That was the time when we started to become noticed. We were being featured on many prominent EDM sites. They always paid us on time and looked out for licensing opportunities. Harrison actually got us our first licensing opportunity that made us a good amount of money. Harrison also introduced us to a lot of artists we would end up collaborating with. He introduced us to I.Y.F.F.E that lead to an amazing collaboration and who we still talk to frequently. They also did a great job organizing exposure for our 100HRTZ Remix EP that lead to Instant Party!’s remix of “Clap When She Walkin’” becoming the number one purchased hip-hop track on Beatport for 2015. Dirty Duck Audio really helped our career. Harrison and I still communicate frequently and he still looks out for licensing jobs for us.
Who are a few of your influences?
We draw influences from everything. If we hear something we fuck with, then we run with it. We are both always looking for forward thinking artists, so our inspirations change. I’m heavily influenced by hip-hop. To be honest, I don’t listen to much dance music. I’m influenced by artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Dr Dre, J Dilla, Just Blaze, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Mr Carmack, Flying Lotus, Baauer, Thundercat, Gramatik, Pretty Lights—pretty much anyone who is trying something different. My influences definitely change over time, but these are a few artists that I always look forward to hearing new music.
What processes go into making a track? How do the two of you collaborate in the studio?
We collaborate a lot over the internet. Dan was living in Chicago during the creation of this project. However, we did get into Submarine Studios in NYC a couple of times during the creation of this project to make some changes to the production, mixing and mastering. Dan is a genius when it comes to using the analog gear to create a specific sound. The sessions when Dan and I get together are usually marathons, [laughs]. I’m talking eight-ten hours straight in the studio. However, as you guys will come to find out, it creates some of our best music!
What is the Renaissance EP in your own words? Where did you get the inspiration for the new release?
The influences on this project were artists like Mr.Carmack, KRNE, Quix, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, and J Dilla. This project was all about hardware gear and getting back to that vintage sound. It’s heavily hip-hop influenced. It was a lot of fun to create. Up to this point, we primarily were only creating digitally, on a computer, which limited our direct connection with the music. On this project we used a bunch of analog and hardware gear: Moog Little Phatty Stage II, Dave Smith Mopho X4, a Virus, a Fender Rhodes, an upright piano, guitars, and analog gear for mixing and mastering. I think when people hear the project they’ll be able to tell that it is vintage sounding. That was our goal, do something different. Draw from the inspiration but put the Statik Link spin on the tracks.
What do you consider the most critical steps for an artist to grow, in your opinion?
Be original. One thing I always say to up and coming artists is find the sound you want to be known for. Don’t copy. Sure, going with a trend may be a fast way to grow, but it’ll be difficult for the average listener to recognize and remember who you are. Develop a sound that, when people hear it, they say, ‘Oh, that’s so and so.’ Also, I think social media as whole is something an up and coming artist needs to build the brand. More and more people are looking to social media sites to find new music and communicate with the artist. Reach out and talk to your fans and people who like your tracks. Don’t be afraid to say thank you if a website, blog or fan tweets how much they are digging a track. Lastly, in my opinion, I think many beginning artists focus solely on Soundcloud and don’t focus on other platforms to release their music. Don’t get me wrong, Soundcloud is an amazing platform. It’s opened doors for us and many other artists. Maybe this is the NYC part of me speaking, but most people I know listen to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal or other streaming sites they can download music and listen to off line while riding the train. Soundcloud doesn’t offer that yet. I think that missing out on a huge market.
Do you prefer to work with male or female vocals?
Both. The Renaissance EP is primarily hip-hop based featuring male rappers. We’d love to work with a female rapper. We’ve been looking for someone to work with, so if you’re a female rapper, please reach out to us! We aren’t featuring any vocalists singing on this project. However, we had two tracks that we made for this EP that we felt didn’t match this project. The two tracks featured a male and female vocalist singing. We decided this past week that we are going to release another EP mid to late summer that will be primarily RnB inspired featuring chill vibes with singing. If you want to work, please reach out to us!
What direction do you plan on taking your music? In what ways will you continue to push the genre forward?
Great question. This is really important to us. We don’t have a set direction to take the music, but we want to stay fresh and continue to deliver something unique. We really strive to be on the front lines of finding, cultivating and delivering a new sound. We love dance music, and we love hip-hop. That will never change, so you can bet whatever we do it’s going to have that influence. We try not to follow trends, but in order to market our music we realize we have to walk a fine line of what’s popular, and what’s forward thinking. We want to put value back into the project. Are number one goal is to have our fans anticipate our new releases because they know it’s going to be classic. We really put 100% into crafting each song.
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