Catching up with The Knocks

By Matt Ferry

Ahhh… the familiar “Knock knock!” The wondrous sound of the neighbors pounding on the wall, threatening to call the 5-0 if the music isn’t turned down. New York’s The Knocks are all too familiar with this scenario, except their callous disregard to the neighbors peace and quiet is starting to pay off. Big time.

Fresh off their UK tour, full-time DJs and funk-fueled dance-rockers B-Roc and JPatt are at that crest of stardom. From the 2011 Big Chill to opening for DJ Shadow, and even sharing the stage with fellow indie dancers Chromeo, 2012 looks like the year for The Knocks to break big. Lucky for us, they had a moment to spare from hauling moving boxes (FUN!) to sit down and give us the low-down on knocking out such funky/fun/fresh tracks. Read on for more and check out Fred Falke‘s remix of their new single “Brightside“! Dope!

Hey guys, hows things in “the city so nice they named it twice?”

DJ B-Roc: The city is good. We’re in the process of moving apartments right so it’s kind of hectic. We just got off a tour in the UK with DJ Shadow and are pretty wiped.

Tell us about your musical upbringing, were you entirely self taught? What kind of genres did you listen to when you were growing up? What instruments do you play?

DJ B-Roc: I grew up with drums as my first instrument, playing punk music with friends. Then I got right into DJing. I was really big into turntablism and the whole DMC battle stuff, which got me into hip-hop production. I was really influenced by DJ Shadow, RJD2 and Dan The Automator. I really enjoyed sample-based stuff, which is why we still like to sample a lot now.

JPatt: I grew up listening to gospel, funk, jazz, and hip-hop. My dad played piano and I picked some of that up from him. I also played drums for years. Recently I’ve taught myself to play guitar and bass.

Brightside” is fantastic in its own right, but the Fred Falke remix takes it in an entirely new and club-friendly direction. How exactly did you land the legendary Frenchman on remix duty?

DJ B-Roc: We’ve been huge Fred Falke fans for a while, so he was instantly the first guy on our wish list. He ended up liking the song and did it right away. Our music has a pretty obvious French house/disco influence, so it’s cool to have a remix from someone who’s such a legend in that genre.


When you guys recorded the Magic EP, what kind of hardware/software/live instrumentation did you use?

DJ B-Roc: We use a lot of analog synths and a lot of live instrumentation. We work mainly in Ableton and Pro Tools and a couple other super-top-secret super computers.

What’s your live set-up like?

DJ B-Roc: We’re each playing a couple different things: drums, drum machines, keyboards, talk boxes. It’s kind of like a little mini-studio on stage. We keep changing and adding things to it as time goes on. We also have a visual aspect that we had done which we are also adding to and improving over time.

There’s a connection you guys share with bands like Chromeo, Mayer Hawthorne, and Cut Copy. It’s a sound that’s heavy on live instrumentation, very melody-driven, and thrives more on conventional songwriting than trackiness. While “dance rock” and “electronic” music are blanketed under the same “dance” genre, how do you and your pals in the scene view the explosion of dance music in America?

DJ B-Roc: We’re big fans of that stuff.  We are full time DJs in New York and have played all over the world so we’re huge fans of all those guys. We’re always at the festivals for their sets front row with the rest of them.  We just caught Skrillex live in Nottingham after we played the night before and got to hang out with him which was cool. He was incredibly down to earth and laid-back. Those dudes are all just on top of the world right now, the new rock stars.