With so much dance music on the scene these days, how is one to know what sets who apart, and why? For the Wrestlers, I find out it’s all about analog and synth, having a diversity of featured vocalists, and stellar personal taste in music. Check out more from this Texas act this week at Art Basel Miami, and more to come in 2016.
You started your music under the moniker Bagheera – why the change of name, and how do you feel that music differs from what Wrestlers is doing?
Honestly, the name change came from one of those “oh crap we just got a cease and desist letter about our band name” moments. However, that happened pretty early on in the career of the band, before we had a lot of traction. We got to use this unfortunate situation to do a little bit of a rebranding, and really take a look at ourselves and see how we wanted this project to move forward. I’m actually pretty grateful for how it happened.
There are a lot of great sounds going on in your music – what is your favorite gear to use, and how does it contribute to being integral to your sound?
First off, thank you for the compliment. I have a studio with some great analog gear: DSI Prophet ’08 (my current favorite), Roland Juno 6 (My first synth), Rhodes electric piano, the list goes on a bit, but those are kind of my go-to’s. I really like to put my time in with my synth work to make cool patches for my tracks, and the analog gear really helps me carve out some cool sounds. There’s lots of producers out there that try to cram way too much stuff into their tracks. It gets cluttered. Technically speaking, what they’re doing might be very impressive on the engineering side of things, but sometimes it tends to suck the soul/groove out of things. I guess what I’m getting at here, is that I prefer my sound design to be simple, yet textured. There needs to be space to breathe. Space to groove in to.
Right now Wrestlers is just getting off the ground, mainly putting out music through the art of live performance (which works well for you, being that the music of Wrestelrs = dance party). Is there a full-length studio album in the works?
I’ve been writing a lot of material in my studio since the end of the summer. We had a pretty crazy travel/show schedule this summer, so it’s been really nice to wind down the live set a bit over the past few months and focus on new songs. I’ve got a nice amount of ideas stockpiled. I’m not sure yet if it will be a full length, a couple of EP’s, or just singles. Rest assured, you’ll be hearing a lot from us in 2016.
Twin Shadow appears on one of your tracks, “Say Anything”. How did you get linked up with him? It is apparent on all other tracks that Wrestlers like to collaborate with numerous artists. What is the process like, vetting and selecting artists to work with? Is it something that unfolds by way of synchronicity, or do you have a sound in mind, and then go after it?
The Twin Shadow collar was hooked up by the team over at Red Bull Sound Select. They provide a lot of fantastic collaborative opportunities for up and coming artists.
The collaborating thing is definitely something like I like to do. Really it’s because I can’t sing haha. I can play every instrument on the record, but ask me to hop in vocal booth and I totally freeze up. As far as what we look for when we collaborate, it’s got to be someone with a unique voice. Someone that has spent the time to define their own artistic vision/sound. They don’t have to already be a super star or anything. That’s what was so cool about the first Disclosure record, almost all of the features on that album were relatively unknown artists. I’ll take an organic collaboration, born out of mutual adoration and a common vision over a superstar feature any day.
I noticed on your Facebook page that artists you also like is Michael McDonald (very impressed)….any chance for him to collaborate on a track with Wrestlers? Next to Michael McDonald, who is another “yacht rock” artist you love and why?
Yo for real though Mike is one of my all time favorite musicians. I would love to have him on a track. He sang backup on a tune with Holy Ghost that still blows my mind every time I hear it. I guess another artist similar to Mike would be Steely Dan. Their record “Gaucho” has been on really heavy repeat for me lately. “Hey Nineteen” is a killer groove.
You’re playing 7 shows at Art Basel this year… is this your first Basel?
It’s our first Basel, and we couldn’t be happier about how active we’ll be.
Which show are you most excited to play, and who are you most excited to see?
Our show at the Libertine on Wednesday should be really special. We’re playing with one of our absolute favorites: Kindness. We’re also doing a DJ set at Soho House on Thursday from 2-4AM where we’ll be flexing all of our favorite late-nite disco records, as well playing some new/unreleased Wrestlers tunes.
And of course, beyond music, there is a ton of art happening this week – any particular artist’s work you are stoked on seeing?
I’m really excited about checking out whatever we can, whenever we have a little downtime. That being said, our schedule is pretty insane and it looks like we’ll mostly be hanging around where our shows are. However, I’m definitely going to try to check out some Louise Nevelson.
Shows during Miami Art Week
Snowbirds & Flamingos at Libertine 12am
Baby’s All Basel
Satellite Art Fair 9pm *
Soho Beach House Tent 2am *
The Gale 11pm
Basel Castle @ The 1 Hotel 9pm *
Smashed Canvas 8pm
* DJ set