Apr 03, 2011
Human Life

With a polished and refined sound, future stars Human Life have a special quality and versatility that is not seen too often in dance music these days. Check out our exclusive interview with Human Life member Matt Wasley for the lowdown on this talented trio.

Human Life - In It Together (Original Mix) [LIFEX]
LessThan3: How long have you guys been performing as Human Life?
Matt: About two years now. The whole inception started with us producing without any real sort of expectations of what would happen in the music, so we probably spent about nine months just producing and writing songs before we even showed them to anyone or did anything with them, just so that we’d have a bunch of different sounds. We didn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves with having one track come out and then being stuck having to make more tunes like that when people liked it.
LessThan3: That’s a problem a lot of artists have trouble escaping.
Matt: That’s really what we’re trying to be different from. I want to have some different dynamics in terms of the music style. We’re working on an album right now, and the goal is that we have three or four songs that are accessible, catchy, maybe even poppy tracks. Then you’ve got your dancey stuff as well, and then some really crazy stuff, so when you listen to the album it’s not just the same song fifteen times. There are so many artists we love who have done albums like that recently. You loved it the first time but after the eleventh it’s like, enough.
LessThan3: Who are some artists who are most like your sound right now?
Matt: That’s tough. We do different things. We feel like Azarian Third—that type of sound. When we look at ourselves as far as influence, the easy answer is Daft Punk. When they put out an album, it’s not just pop, it’s not just underground dance; it’s a little bit of everything. You might not even realize it as you are listening but as you look back from afar, it’s hitting all those buttons.
LessThan3: We definitely applaud your approach. Who are your influences aside from Daft Punk?
Matt: Chicago old school house is a huge influence. Josh grew up in Chicago, not just listening but working with a many of those legends. He was in a studio where there were thirty different rooms and they’ve got a producer in every room and they’re just trying to pump out tracks from these guys—really the ’90s Chicago heyday. It’s funny; he’ll bring up songs like “Don’t you remember this from 7th grade? This was huge!” And I’ll just say, “Hey man, I grew up in Boston. This definitely wasn’t being played on the radio where I was from.” Growing up in Boston, it was like Black Box and that first wave of hip house. There are some things that can be taken from that even now—just the fact that they got people to listen to dance music at a time when it wasn’t very popular, on a macro level at least. Then there’s French Touch. We’ve been lucky to learn a lot from our hero Alan Braxe about producing and the way that he does things. The final aspect is pop music. We want to be able to take a catchy vocal or something really hooky and mix in some of the elements that we enjoy and actually have somebody like it. My goal is that if I play it for a friend of a friend, or somebody older or younger who doesn’t listen to dance music, that they’ll go “oh yeah I’ll listen to this, even though I may not have found it on my own.”
LessThan3: That’s happening more and more, it seems.
Matt: When we first made In It Together it was a song with a crazy high vocal and I thought maybe people were going to think it was weird, but I was surprised to see how many pop-leaning places have been supporting it.
LessThan3: That’s because it sounds really polished. Whoever is showing you the studio workings is definitely doing a good job.
Matt: Well with that song we did a couple different things for promotion. One of them was a video promotion company who just pushed it everywhere to see what worked. We were surprised that literally some shows would be programming us with all R&B and some shows would be programming us between Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, and others would be alternative, indie rock type things. If it can fit into all of those, that’s fantastic.
LessThan3: What a dream come true.
Matt: It’s hard to make every track that versatile, but we try!
LessThan3: Let’s talk about Chromeo. What do you think about their sound relative to yours? Are you guys targeting the same demographic in any way? When we heard your sound that was one of the first groups that came to mind.
Matt: When their first album came out I just remember I stumbled across this and I was thinking, did this come out in ’82 or is this now? I was definitely very interested and that album just said, “This can be done.” The other thing is how they actually perform live; they do play instruments, which is something we’re trying to do as well. Where we might want to differ a little bit is just to have a little bit more of a dance-leaning side–really having dancefloor-ready tracks. They don’t really go that direction as much.
LessThan3: You guys are producing music that could be played alongside other pop songs. Coming up in the world now, what is your signing situation, and what does the landscape look like with big and small labels?
Matt: We just signed a record deal last week with Defected, who is obviously a really big house label from the UK. We’re super excited about it. The way I explain it to people who may not be familiar is that they are the guys who made Tensnake’s Coma Cat the song of 2010. They took it from just being something underground and brought it up to the next level. So if that’s the way it happens for us, then we could not be more excited. We are still signed to Alan Braxe’s Vulture label and there’s going to be something coming out in 2011 on that as well.
LessThan3: When are you expecting the first release on Defected to come out?
Matt: That’s literally what’s being decided right now. It’ll be before summer though. It’s supposed to be an Ibiza kinda summer thing. Hopefully they’ll want to bring us there as well [laughter].
LessThan3: Do you guys feel more comfortable performing in a club setting or in a concert venue setting?
Matt: I say we probably feel more at home in a club. It’s funny, because sometimes people want to push you in that concert venue direction to play with rock bands, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we can also play in clubs. Eventually maybe that’ll mean the live show happens in a concert hall and then you DJ the afterparty. That’s fine. There are some people who do that really well, like Cut//Copy for example.
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