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LISTEN: The Knocks Make Way For the “Brightside” with ‘Magic’ (FILTER Exclusive)

By Staff; Photo Credit: Alex Bittan on December 2, 2011


LISTEN: The Knocks Make Way For the “Brightside” with ‘Magic’ (FILTER Exclusive)

If you've kept up with what's been riling up on Hype Machine lately, then you should be somewhat familiar with the NYC duo, The Knocks. A couple week's ago their single "Brightside" gave tastemakers and bloggers high hopes for the upcoming  release of the Magic EP out December 6, 2011 via A&M/Octone. Plenty have tried scouring for the Magic EP in full, but we've got a huge hint curious ears and fans all around. Look no further and stream The Knocks' Magic EP in its entirety via the Topspin widget below all you want before the release next week! Read below for a play-by-play on the EP with words shared by B-Roc and JPatt.

The Knocks have produced and remixed for the likes of Ellie Goulding, Passion Pit, Foster The People, Marina and the Diamonds, Chiddy Bang, and Rihanna and the NME called them one of the “20 hottest producers in music". Not too off here when saying these guys are a great act to have in your back pocket to impress friends on some ultimate dance jams over here. So share around and enjoy the stream below. Not buying it? Need some visuals? Check out the music video just released December 1st of the single "Brightside" linked below. If you're out in the UK, make sure to catch them while on tour with DJ Shadow!

Purchase the new released single "Brightside" by The Knocks, Here.

"Brightside", words by B-Roc
Brightside came around at a time when we were knee deep with signing our record deal, so the creative process had kind of slowed down.  We actually had a bunch of friends in the studio the day it started and Jpatt was on the computer working on a chord progression while I was on my laptop going through some weird French pop samples I had just found.  I was in the middle of a conversation while flipping through my iTunes playlist and all of a sudden the "nanana's" started playing in perfect timing and in perfect key with the track Jpatt was working on.  We all kind of had a big "oh shit" moment and right away we knew it was gonna be special.  So we kicked everyone out of the studio and went to work. The rest of the melodies and concept came incredibly easily and the song was done within 2 days. 

This became the title track of the EP because after we wrote it we felt like it summed up the whole vibe of the release.  It's about that moment in time where everything kind of disappears and its nothing but you, the music and the person you're with.  If you listen to the EP you will notice that the majority of the tracks are about a specific "magic" moment being shared with another person, hence the lovely ginger couple on our cover.  We had made a beat that we were pitching to Rihanna for her record that we were really excited about.  Needless to say, they didn't take it, and we were bummed that we had this awesome beat and nothing to do with it.  The most noticeable part was the drums, so we stripped down all the Rihanna-esque synths and kept the big tribal drums.  At that time we had really only been messing with 120-130 tempo tracks so this was an awesome change of pace.  We referenced a little bit of Play-era Moby tracks for this one, which was is one of our favorite albums.  The original version of Magic had a Beastie Boys vocal sample in the chorus that we loved, but we ended up having to remove it due to clearance issues which broke our heart.  We still use the Beasties sample when we play it live though and you can still hear the original demo if you search YouTube hard enough... We always wanted to have a feature on it so when we met Gary Go it seemed to be perfect.  He loved the track the second he heard it and we cut the vocals within three hours.

"The Prize"

The Prize was the second song we worked on with Gary Go when we were at his studio in London.  Jpatt had started a track in NYC that was really just an arpeggiated synth build and drums.  We were looking to do something a bit more serious/dark for the record, so we showed it to Gary and he instantly started humming some brilliant melodies.  The lyric writing process for this was one of those special only-happens-twice-a-year type of things. All three of us were sitting on the couch literally going line for line and getting incredibly excited as this interesting mysterious surreal story of someone going borderline crazy while looking for their "Prize" developed.  Another fun part of making this song was getting to use Gary's outboard effects and running that main arpeggiator and the lead vocal through it.  If you notice, the verse vocal gets progressively more distorted as it goes on.  The effect really gives it a raw feeling which adds to the whole aesthetic of the song.

"Dancing With The DJ", words by JPatt

Dancing with the DJ happened very naturally. I had this line "We don't care if the sun comes up" in my head for literally weeks, before I decided to wake up early one day and get to the studio to get it out somehow (seriously it was annoying me). I started creating an oldies-sounding jam that I then re-sampled into a more dancey track. Ben arrived a short while later. I showed him what I had begun, and he was immediately into it. From there we expanded the production a ton. Ben came up with idea to have our good friend Julia Tepper sing the "we don't care if the sun comes up" lyric. At first I was singing it, but having Julia lay it changed the dynamic of the entire song for the better. The "dancing with the DJ" line just sort of flowed out naturally during the process of writing the tune. The entire song was pretty much done and structured in one day. Everything came together so smoothly it's almost as if the pieces of the song already existed and we were just putting them all together. We were super stoked from the get go, and we had a feeling that this song might be one of our biggest. Thankfully it has been.

This song took a while to fully realize, and develop. Ben and I were held up in the studio at that point just banging out tons of ideas for our next release. One day we started this jam where we evoked our patented method of creating an old sounding sample and re-sampling it into a dance record. We LOVE to do this. I had this one line written down in my Blackberry (at the time, now an iPhone guy, hollerrr!): "I promise you that you'll remember tonight for the rest of your life" We sampled me singing that a few keys down then re-sampled it and raised the pitch up to make my voice sound all weird and kiddy. After that we kind of hit a wall and weren't sure where else to go with it. Many weeks later we teamed up with Gary Go in the UK (he is a genius). He heard the track and IMMEDIATELY began to breathe new life into it with awesome new melodies and lyrics. We spent a whole day reproducing it, and we had actually planned to feature Gary on the track until he heard me jokingly singing it in this knock off David Ruffin-esque voice that I can fake pretty well. Gary absolutely flipped and insisted that I sing the song, and so I did. From there we took the track back to NY and resampled the entire thing ahain (there's a theme on this EP if you haven't noticed yet) into the track you now hear. This song probably had the longest process, but is also one of our favorites, so we're glad we took the time to figure it out.

"All We Got"
This one came about in a little bit of a weirder fashion. While we were on tour in the UK with Sleigh Bells I had this piano riff and hook idea in my head. It was another case where it was SO in my head that it was annoying. I actually remember singing it to Ben and our tour manager completely out of context while on the road. After the tour we went home to see our families. The riff was in my head louder than ever, so naturally I put it down. I was in my basement at about 2am when I started putting the track together. The kids you think you hear are actually a bunch of layers of me pretending to be kids, and singing in weird registers with my voice pitch shifted up and down and flanged and distorted...real producer nerd stuff. I sent the jam to Ben and he was waaay down. He had some good ideas for the drums and structure, and we ended up working on the track for a bit in the studio before putting it aside for a while. We actually planned on using it for the album, but when a different jam off the EP got canned, All We Got was next in line. We were able to quickly finish the track, and Kardinal Offishall was dope enough to grace us with a hot verse. All of the other vocals you hear are the original vocals recorded in my parents’ basement. Normally we would have redone them, but sometimes when you capture a vibe it's best not to change it!

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