Fresh off their Coachella performance and release of their single “Keep On Calling”, Niiko x SWAE are back at it again with “Summer Love (LINDZ)”. Both members of the artistic duo grew up heavily influenced by music until discovering their passion for EDM. Not only does the band enjoy creating original music, but they are also extremely talented when it comes to creating remixes. I sat down with the duo to learn more about their creative process and upcoming events.
Ariel Zedric: What is it about EDM that excites you? What makes EDM different from other genres of music?
Niiko x SWAE: Our favorite part of EDM is that there really is no wrong way to make an electronic dance track. There are endless possibilities and endless sub-genres of electronic music whereas producing hip hop, top 40, or R&B is just so redundant. No two electronic songs sound the same but if they sound similar enough you can do some crazy things live with the two songs. At the end of the day, there is just so much freedom and unexplored sounds or styles in electronic dance music. The fact that each sub-genre of EDM is constantly evolving into something new is always exciting too.
How did you each get into music? How did you find each other?
Music has always been a big part of both of our lives. Niiko is an amazing guitar player and grew up influenced by 80’s and 90’s rock bands like Devo. He has played almost his entire life and has been since early high school. We love using the guitar in our tracks and you can definitely hear the older influence in the sound. SWAE fell in love with EDM and particularly house right around the age of 14. He started DJ’ing before producing whereas Niiko started producing before DJ’ing.
SWAE plays a little piano as well. We both grew up together with more or less the same friend group. We went to different schools for elementary and high school but were on a ton of the same sports teams together like in little league baseball. Once we both attended the same college (SMU) in Dallas, our manager Kevin suggested we start linking up and messing around. We would DJ or produce each day after classes and then would DJ all the parties around the school. After a couple of weeks, we ended up forming our duo Niiko x SWAE and started doing everything together.
Tell me about your recent single, “Keep On Calling”! What was it like collaborating with Olaf Blackwood?
Working with Olaf was amazing! He is so talented and the nicest guy in the world. Olaf is an insanely talented writer and singer and has been featured on many big tracks like Armen Van Buuren’s “I Need You”. We originally met up with Olaf in the studio for a writing session where we worked on several tracks. We had already produced the instrumental for “Keep On Calling” and had tracked Niiko’s vocals where Olaf’s are now. When we showed Olaf the demo he said he really liked it and wanted to freestyle with the same lyrics. He hopped on and the rest was history. We recently played at Hakkasan in Las Vegas with Nightmre and Olaf came out and supported us! He is a great friend and we definitely will continue to work with him in the future.
You’ve worked with some amazing artists recently! Is there anyone you’d love to work with but haven’t gotten the chance?
We love working with talented individuals whether they have a huge following or none at all. One producer we would love to work with is Jauz. We’ve been massive fans of his since we started and it would be insane working with him. Another legend we would love to work with is Tiesto. We got to meet him at Coachella a few years ago and have always looked up to him. Tiesto is the god of clubs so we would definitely make a club anthem with him if he ever gave us the opportunity. Those two guys would definitely be a dream to work with. Other producers we’d kill to work with are Nghtmre and of course the goat Skrillex. More realistically though we would love to get the chance to collab with someone like Noizu or Ship Wrek where we could make a fun house track for the clubs.
Walk me through your music creating process, about how long does it take? Do you each have different roles, or do you collaborate on everything?
We both collaborate on everything but we usually start a project separately and then have the other hop on. It’s always nice to let each other get started on an idea and then pass it to the other to help develop it. SWAE is really good with drums and adding little elements into spice projects up whereas Niiko is great with arranging and sound design. We both have strengths and weaknesses but the best part about working in a duo is learning from each other and having somebody to constantly bounce ideas back and forth with. We do all of our writing together and work with each other every day on all projects. Also, for our shows, we go b2b with separate playlists and build off of each other which is really unique.
As a duo, you’ve been putting out a lot of new music and remixes recently! How do you stay from getting burnt out?
Honestly, we are just doing what we love and have had the chance to work and collaborate with some amazing other artists, making each project new and unique. Whenever we get writer’s/producer’s block we take a day off of creating new projects and instead focus our energy into other aspects of our brand, whether it be marketing, social media, or merchandise. That way we always have something to do even if it isn’t music-related. Staying busy is the key to not getting burnt out and also understanding that it is totally ok to have days where nothing good musically comes.
Congrats on performing at Coachella this year! Walk me through what that experience was like! What were the best and worst parts of the festival from an artists perspective?
Coachella was a dream come true! To see our name on the lineup with all those legends was epic. We both have been attending Coachella as fans for years so to finally play our dream festival was absolutely insane. It was such a fun experience and we got the chance to meet tons of our favorite artists like Jauz, Sikdope, Fisher, and more. We did tons of interviews which were all unique and got to meet tons of fans as well. The best part was chilling in the green room before and after to escape the heat. The worst part was debuting our new uniforms in the 100-degree heat. If you haven’t seen our uniforms, they are red denim pants and red denim jackets… not ideal in triple-digit weather. Overall though Coachella was a movie and playing both weekends was the time of our lives.
What’s your favorite part about performing live shows?
Our favorite part about performing is seeing the crowd have fun or go crazy to our music. There’s nothing that makes us happier than seeing people have a good time during our shows. For us, the biggest reward is meeting the fans after the show or seeing their feedback on social media.
You’ve done some unofficial remixes in the past, most recently Billie Eilish x Justin Bieber’s ‘Bad Guy’. Do you have any new remixes in the works?
Tons of remixes in the works! We love the unofficial remixes because there’s no deadline or guidelines and we really get to be ourselves but we also are working on a few officials as well! Remixes just come naturally, whether it be a song we are really into lately or a track that we know will be fun to play live. We are always messing around with new hits as well as classics like Eye of the Tiger which we are currently editing. We also have a couple of unreleased remixes (waste time by Diplo) that may never come out or we make into originals but you will definitely hear them live at our shows!
Tell me a little about the contest you hosted where fans sent in their wildest texts and voicemails from past relationships! What’s the prize and what gave you the idea?
The contest ended a couple of weeks ago and the prize was a VIP experience at our show at Hakkasan with Nghtmre and a hotel room in Vegas at the MGM. We took the winner to dinner and brought him up to chill with us before the show. He also got to hang in the booth with us while we played and got to party with us after. It was an epic time and we had a lot of fun with the contest. The goal was to make up something that would be fair for all contestants over the age of 21 so we figured everybody has an ex or a nasty past relationship, why not take advantage of those old screenshots that everyone has but doesn’t do anything with. The contest was hilarious and the results were amazing.
Are you working on any other exciting, forthcoming projects that you want fans to know about?
We may or may not have a bop with Lexy Panterra coming out later this year and we definitely have not been in the studio working with Gunnar Gehl 😉
If you could give young aspiring artists one piece of advice, what would it be?
Never stop and never settle. We’ve been told no so many times only for that same person or company to hit us back up again somewhere down the road. As long as you don’t quit and keep your head down and grind, you will make it. Take advantage of the connections you make because you never know who can help you and when. Most importantly though be genuine and kind to everybody. Nobody wants to work with someone who is unpleasant to be around.
Any last thoughts?
Our next show is August 10th at Hakkasan in Vegas with the legends Loud Luxury. Also, we have a weekly radio show where we play our favorite songs at 6 pm (pst) on Dash Radio’s station “LOUD.”
Featured image courtesy of Niiko x SWAE