The Knocks: the hipster Neptunes?
It’s like that Miike Snow thing,” says Ben, one half of The Knocks, a super-hip New York production outfit who are now trying to do “that Miike Snow thing” and become a band. “Andrew whatever-his-name-is is an amazing producer, but him being a frontman? It just didn’t seem that natural to me.”
But producers, by their nature, aren’t natural. They represent all that is knowing and pre-meditated about music. Pop needs a division of labour: someone to go to award ceremonies wearing dresses made from aborted seal babies, and someone in the studio at 4am, twiddling a knob that will make the snare sound better on the radio. Isn’t it always impossible for the guys who are part of the machine to become the artist?
“But we’re not trying be on magazine covers,” Ben pleads. “We’re more in the vein of guys like Fatboy Slim. He hasn’t released shit in years, but he can headline festivals just standing on the stage playing his records. That’s the lifestyle we want.”
We’re not sure if the world needs a new, or even an old, Fatboy Slim, but if anyone can switch from producers to pop stars it’s The Knocks. They’ve got the tunes: thrusting yet wistful dance-pop singles that, even on first listen, you’re certain you’ve heard somewhere before. Having desk-jockeyed everyone from Rihanna and Flo Rida to Ellie Goulding and hypy new freak-crunk-pop kiddo RKO, they’re the buzz new producers around. More importantly, they’re shoo-ins for next year’s Cool List.
Painful nonchalance punctuates their answers. Even an innocent, “How was your weekend?” gains this shrugged response: “It started off in Paris, we were supposed to support Scissor Sisters but they got pulled so we ended up with a bunch of rock bands. Then DJ’d at this place that was just like the places we DJ in New York. Like a sceney, fashiony, super-exclusive thing with everyone chain-smoking inside. Then we were in Norway and we DJ’d on the biggest sound system in the country or someut. That was this morning.”
This morning? It’s midday and we’re having coffee in London!
“Yeah, I don’t think we’ve been to sleep yet.”
Oh yes, The Knocks will have no trouble acclimatising to life on the other side of the soundproof glass.
Need To Know
• The Knocks came to the interview wearing identical thick-rimmed glasses and beanies. Neither of them took their coats off
• They’ve done remixes for bloody everyone, including Ellie Goulding, Britney Spears and one for Maroon 5 that they were told to re-do because their first attempt was “too choppy”
• They told us to tell you that they came with supermodels hanging off their arms because they think that’ll help them get laid
This article originally appeared in the November 20 issue of NME