Truthfully, it’s almost just about too late to “introduce” Krewella as the Chicago-reared trio seems to be on a direct trajectory to ever-expanding heights thanks to their infectious hybrid of powerful, pop-driven vocals and slick, energetic production. Jumping around the entire EDM spectrum while still keeping a solid footing in dubstep, Krewella have garnered a reputation for crafting party-starting jams that warp raucous lyrics, glistening melodies, monster drums, and big bass into frantic balls of dancefloor energy. Case in point, the outfit’s latest single, “Killin’ It,” which has become a breakout hit of sorts since first dropping on the unsuspecting dancefloors of their home city.
Now with Krewella’s Play Hard EP dropping exclusively and going to #1 on Beatport’s release chart this week, and set to continue turning heads and igniting parties and clubs alike throughout the summer nights ahead, we thought we’d get the whole crew together for a chat to see what they’re all about and how the hell they got here. Read on for their answers and to peep the frantic, hyper-driven video for “Killin’ It” after the jump.
Can you tell us a little about your background? Where did the three of you grow up, and where are you based now?
Kris: The three of us grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago and are currently based in Chicago’s West Loop, but will hopefully be relocating to L.A. within the year!
How did each of you first get involved with electronic music? What were you all doing before Krewella?
K: I used to use basic computer MIDI programs to make music instead of doing my school work. Before Krewella, I was playing guitar in metal bands.
Jahan: I was a choir girl for seven years but the rigid study and music theory lectures in school sucked the creative juices out of me. I really didn’t see a career in music coming to fruition until I met Kris, who was my introduction to electronic music.
Yasmine: Before Krewella, I was the singer of an indie-rock band with some high school friends. I actually got into electronic music because of Kris and Jahan. I had a very closed mind towards different styles until they helped me become open to more types of music.
How would you describe the music that you make?
K: A schizophrenic juxtaposition of rage, femininity, power, lust, and aggression.
How does the typical live show work? How would you describe your sets?
K: The three of us currently DJ together. Our sets are predominantly original material, sprinkled with remixes and bootlegs we’ve made along with a few tracks from others that we dig. We love taking our audience on a sonic journey, ranging from electro-house, to moombahton, to dubstep, and on to drum & bass. There is an uncontrollable amount of energy within us and we use our shows as an outlet to release the passion we have for the type of music we create.
When was the first time that you felt that Krewella had found its “sound?”
K: About a year ago, we released our debut record Strobelights. It took us a few years to get to the point where we felt confident enough to release a product, but something in our gut told us ‘“This is it.” The poly-synths, sing-rap verses, feminine chorus, half-time instrumental drops, and heavy bass are all characteristic of our vibe today, so we stand true to the original sound we came out with.
How do you explain your music to your family members?
J: Did you drop me when I was an infant?
Y: After apologizing for any profanities they’re about to come across, I tell them that just because one of their own made this music, that doesn’t mean they have to like it, then I let the music speak for itself.
Are you the type of musicians who knows what kind of track you want to write before you sit down to make it, or do you create music more from a process of experimentation, trial and error?
J: All of it. Sometimes I’ll intentionally decide to write in a specific BPM or focus on a certian subject matter, and other times inspiration will creep into my brain, and I fully take advantage of these moments by letting the stream of consciousness pour out on paper.
Y: Most of the time, I’m fixated on a certain mood and have to write something that goes along with that, so I generally know the mood I want for the track. The other factors are, most of the time, completely up in the air. If I’m in a creepy song mood, don’t ask me to write something happy because you’ll end up with a creepy song either way.
K: For me, it’s a little bit of both. Most of the time there is a lot of trial and error.
When you sit down to make a track, what’s the first thing you typically do? How long does a track typically take you to make?
J: As a lyricist, I usually listen to the instrumental or the chords I’m writing to and have my phone ready to record the second I start vibing with the track. Depending on how many re-writes there are, the writing alone can range from a few hours to weeks.
Y: Coming from a songwriting point of view, I love interesting lyrics. I tend to have a one-liner already jotted down that is a “BAM” type of line which either a whole verse or even a hook can ride on. From there, I just go on by a stream of consciousness. A full song normally doesn’t take me longer than four hours to write. If it does, that means I’m stumped and I either trash the song or get some extra brain power from my amazingly talented sister.
Where do you record? (Bedroom, home studio, dedicated studio, etc.) And what is your set up like?
J: We record on a Sony C-800 surrounded by a tent of blankets in a sound-proofed closet inside a live/work loft in Chicago.
K: We’re currently working in a Chicago studio that one of my managers and I set up at my loft. The setup is very basic—I use Pro Tools and some computer speakers because I like how they sound. We run the vocals through an Avalon VT preamp most of the time. Other than that, I’ve been using Ableton on my laptop and on the road, which is growing fast on me.
Do you currently have a favorite piece of gear/software?
K: Any sort of distortion, downsampling, or bit-crushing right now.
Who’s the morning person and who is the night owl?
J: As soon as the spring season rolls around, I am a morning person. I am so inspired by beautiful weather and sunlight, plus I get more accomplished when I wake up early.
Y: I definitely try to get up early but I screw up my schedule a lot of the time by staying up into the early hours of the morning. I don’t know why, but the best inspiration usually hits at about 3 AM!
Which one of you is the craziest?
K:We are all crazy in our individual ways and it’s too fucked up to explain why. We also all drive each other crazy, so we are like an atomic fireball of craziness. I guess that fuels our passion.
What’s you favorite classic dance music track?
J: I’m going to pretend that ”Sandstorm” by Darude counts as a classic dance music. It’s a classic for me because my generation was running to that track in elementary school gym class. It reminds me of how I was that cool kid that always crossed the finish line last—GOOD TIMES.
Y: Does disco count? Then it would be “Take A Chance On Me” by ABBA.
K: I think ”Ghosts N Stuff” was an instant classic.
When you’re not listening to electronic music, what other kinds of music are you listening to?
J: I listen to bands and artists that bring me back to different eras in my life because I am so in love with the feeling of nostalgia. For the past few weeks I’ve been on a System of a Down kick.
Y: I love getting lyrical inspiration from rap so I listen to a ton of rap/trap music. Besides that, I listen to a lot of pop-punk and girl-rock.
K: Killswitch Engage, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Saves the Day, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Tortoise. Definitely all in my top-ten favorites.
When you’re not making music or performing, what’s your preferred pastime?
J: I haven’t been able to just pass time too much these days, but when I do get the chance, it will involve thrilling adventures and travelling to far-off lands. I want to do crazy, fucked-up shit.
Y: We don’t really have a lot of downtime doing what we do, but I really love the nights when I get to wind down and cook dinner for my sister and me—now that’s relaxation.
K: FIFA 2012 on XBox.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing with your life?
J: I would be in college continuing my studies and trying to figure out how to have a career that involves creation and mental stimulation while not involving a cubicle with fluorescent lights. This would also have to be a job that doesn’t require business attire, allows profanity, and has flexible hours.
Y: Before we all quit our jobs and didn’t go back to school in order to pursue Krewella, I was actually going to go to college for industrial design. The fact that it didn’t hurt to throw my school applications to the wind and that I haven’t missed it once to this day, tells me that I made the right choice. A career without music is a scary thought to me at this point.
K: Hopefully all of the years I’ve spent developing as a musician would have instead been put towards playing soccer—then I’d ideally be doing that!