April 11th was one of the best nights to be an EDM fan in New York City: Armin Van Buuren hosting ‘Armin Only’ at Madison Square Garden, DJ Snake turning up at Pacha NYC, and Pegboard Nerds throwing down at Webster Hall. While most people will say Armin was the place to be, those that survived Pegboard Nerds know that this is anything but true. A couple days have gone by and we were still feeling the effects of the raging that commenced in the historic Webster Hall. We were lucky enough to sit down with the Pegboard Nerds before their set at Webster and were able to hammer them the pressing questions that weren’t covered in their Reddit AMA a few months ago. Check it out:
To kick things off, can you tell us the story behind Pegboard Nerds?
Mike: Its an anagram of our surnames, Odden and Parsberg. We sat in the studio one night and wanted to find a cool name but all the cool names were taken. Alex had an anagram maker and we put in our names and a huge list came up and one of the first ones was Pegboard Nerds and we thought “Oh wow that sounds funny…nah let’s go on.” We kept going back to it and eventually stuck with it.
You were both solo artists before Pegboard Nerds, what brought you two together?
Mike: Alex won the remix competition with Above & Beyond in 2004 and I contacted him to get him to do a remix for me because I thought it was so good, and we’ve been together ever since.
Alex: We had been working together for a really long time before Pegboard Nerds, doing remixes and ghost productions for other people since 2004.
Alex: Then around 2011 we got together, we were really tired of putting all this effort into other people’s music, and we wanted to put it into our own music.
Mike: we wanted to do something we could play ourselves and not being constrained by what is popular right now, and do what we felt was right.
Alex: It was funny because I remember being out driving and my phone rang and I could tell it was a foreign number and I answered and the guy says “Hey it’s Jono from Above & Beyond” and I’m like “Hang on I need to stop the car this is too crazy.” And so he was just congratulating me and told me that I had won the remix competition and that they were going to release the track. And that was a really good way to get into the market because all of a sudden I started getting remix requests from other artists. It was huge as well because I love A&B and have for many years.
Will you be attending Group Therapy 100 in October?
Alex: I guess it depends on what we’re doing at the time really, funny little side story is, I met them a couple weeks ago at show in salt lake city and when I met them I was like yo, I won your remix competition 10 years ago and they were like what? Really? So that was funny.
I can speak from experience that one of the best shows was the Electric Zoo after party, how did that come together?
Alex: The sweatbox? We had prunes from sweating so much.
Mike: We sat in the lobby, we were bummed out, we were really looking forward to playing E Zoo and we said “Couldn’t we just go to a club or something and play there?” But they were all sold out and filled up and then some of the promoters we worked with before stepped in and said hey we can do this and pulled strings everywhere and it just came together in the span of 2 hours. Everyone chipped in, stuff that usually takes weeks was done in a couple hours, and we didn’t even know that people were going to be there and when we arrived there were people lined up outside and when we were leaving there was a line down the street.
Are you tight with KDrew, is that how it went down?
Alex: Well we had sort of been tweeting back and forth and been like cool stuff etc, and then we pulled favors from him and Dank and they were like hey were going to throw a party, were not going to make any money it’s just going to be for the people who bought the tickets.
Are you excited for the Pendulum album?
Mike: Oh yes, I’ve loved Pendulum for many years, I’m sort of a late bloomer. They are kind of the reason that we got explosive success. We can thank them for a lot. They brought us up.
Alex: Yes I had to show him what Pendulum was, probably the only time I’ve shown him music.
Mike: Actually Alex introduced me to Skrillex as well because I was into the European sound, Swedish, French sound and then I fell I love. What I really like about this kind of music is that there are no rules, you can do whatever the fuck you want. With house music there are certain rules and you are constrained to follow them, like 32 bars beat intro, add a swoosh, 8 bar breakdown and you add the bassline, it’s all the same all the time. With the kind of music we do now it’s refreshing. Want to put in a fart? Yeah let’s do it.
Your most recent release is ‘Hero’, what was the thought process behind producing it?
Mike: We got these vocals from this Russian girl (Elivazeta) and I don’t know, we tried to do a lot of different stuff. We always try a lot of different genres and all of a sudden it just worked.
Alex: Yeah Hero has about 200 hours on it. Tried to build an atmosphere around her vocals and support them and bring them out even more.
What do you think will be the breakout genre of 2014?
Mike: Good songs, just good songs, no specific genre. Every year people are looking for the next big thing and the industry always has some sort of idea of where it will go and then some new genre will pop out of nowhere. And now everyone is all deep house blah blah, and I promise that deep house will never be a euphoric hit genre. Its cool, its great and sounds good, but its not a party genre, its something to listen to casually.
Alex: People are always going to want that rage factor.
Mike: Yeah the rage factor is always there with trance, in hardstyle, in house, in electro house, techno, it has that energy that people want to dance to, even rock, even hip hop has that attitude that people want to dance to. Deep house does not have that attitude. Hopefully Pendulum will come back and they will bring that back and kill it again with that sound. I don’t know, it’s really difficult, I have a feeling that trance with a bit of harder elements will sort of come back. Trance has been big in 3 cycles, it always comes back.
Alex: I don’t know about trap…
Maybe Jack U will keep it up and give it staying power.
Mike: Personally, that was the best set at Ultra. That was really good.
And what did you think of Deadmau5’s set?
Alex: Are you thinking about the trolling? I think it’s funny, you have to expect it.
Mike: You have to smile, you know who he is and what he is all about, so I would have been surprised if he didn’t do that.
From the AMA you mentioned a Cash Cash collab, can we expect that soon?
Mike: funny you ask that, we were supposed to meet them today but didn’t have the time. The track is basically done, just some final touches. As for when it comes out, that’s not up to us, but hopefully soon.
What was your favorite song to work on?
Alex: With every song, you always have the moment where you love the track you’re working on and you love the zone that you get into when you find it when you connect with the track and you think wow this is something
Mike: I remember when we did ‘We Are One‘ and we were like “Wow this is really something this is going to be really good,” and we jumped in the studio for 2 hours on loop because we were like fuck, this is so good.
Alex: And it sounds really stupid but we get like that with every track. I don’t have a favorite song but I have favorite sections of songs.
Mike: I think my favorite song is ‘Fire In The Hole‘ and I like the beat part of the drop that’s my favorite. It has so much funk and that would be a good song for Eminem to do…hey em you want to do a collab?
Which do you prefer, remixes or originals?
Mike: Originals. But the good thing about remixes is that there is something to remodel. The originals you build the model, and it has a bigger frustration, but in the end a bigger reward.
Alex: When we first came out we were tired of doing remixes so we had 7 or 8 originals in a row.
Mike: It wasn’t until 6 months ago that we actually accepted to do more remixes, and to have other people remix our music.
How much are you guys involved in the remix process when other artists are remixing your tunes?
Mike: of course we have our opinions on things, but our opinion is that if you’re going to remix a song, you should let the remixer do their own thing, don’t direct them because you might as well do it yourself. And we hate comments on our remixes. We’ve been remixing so much in the past and we just feel that we should do what is right by the track
Alex: ‘Alive’ was the first remix we did as Pegboard Nerds. I guess we got over that we hate remixes thing and got back into it again.
Mike: At first we wanted to be cool like Daft Punk and say no one can remix our songs.
How are the hero remixes?
Alex: I started listening to them, I saw people posting remixes 6 hours after the stems got out. I’ve listened to 30 or so, out of the 200+. We’re hoping that there’s going to be that 1… haven’t found it yet, but it’s going to be exciting to listen through and find it. There’s a lot of kids participating and it’s a good experience for them. There are a lot of tracks that are not good to be honest, but that’s how it is.
Mike: The only way to be good is to fail a lot and we’ve failed a lot in the past.
There was a big change to Facebook’s algorithm, how do you feel about it?
Mike: We make a post ‘We’re coing to NYC’, 100 likes and 22 comments. We post a picture (below) and that gets 1.5 million views, 16k likes, on a fucking picture? And when it comes to music it’s your mom and brother saying “way to go Michael”, it’s crazy.
Last question that has been bothering me since the AMA, we need to know what is your favorite scandanavian folk pop song?
Together: Apache by Tommy Seebach. The thing is, in Scandinavia when you go to bars and get shit ass drunk, the people love to sing along to folk pop music. Break out genre. Here it would be like listening to country music. ABBA are the mothers and fathers of Scandinavian folk pop, even going on today.