Are You A Night Kid? Exclusive Track + Interview

Published on January 28th, 2011

Today we’re happy to present the exclusive premiere of “Off With His Head!”, the new single from Brooklyn’s Night Kids. If you’re unfamiliar with the four-piece DJ group, it’s probably time to get acquainted. Comprised of Thomas Jay Lorbes, Jillian Kristen, Willie Russell, and Jacky Chui, the group has had a busy past year and is showing no signs of slowing down. They have established a large following both in and outside of NYC, thanks in part to their unique draw of a two-girl/two-guy dynamic. However, despite this distinct quality, it’s actually the Night Kids sound itself that is their main appeal. The group is skilled at blending elements of dirty electro, dubstep, house, and pop. They also benefit greatly from having multiple classically trained musicians in the group.

Night Kids showcased their versatility on their debut EP, The Owl Movement, which was released late last summer. Since then their sound has only evolved further, as was demonstrated on their recent remix of Skrillex’s “With Your Friends, Long Drive” (listen/download below). The track featured catchy vocals and dirty drops, and got them some deserved attention as it reached #4 on Hypem’s popular chart. Oh, and one other thing about Night Kids…they’re insane live. Their super high-energy performances have already garnered them a reputation in both NYC and Philly, and they have plans to tour more extensively in the near future.

“Off With His Head!” marks the release of the first track from Night Kids’ upcoming album, to be released this spring. It incorporates a range of styles, blending Deadmau5-ish synths with dubstep wobbles and some house-y vocals. The track meshes the genres more seamlessly than you’d expect, while doing a good job of maintaining the group’s signature sound.

If you’re finding yourself wishing you could experience Night Kids live for yourself, have no fear. They’ll be playing Philly on February 5th, and you can also expect to see them appearing in a New Philadelphia event soon (shhhh…secrets). Night Kids were also recently in town to play a couple of shows, and we had the chance to sit down with them to talk about their first video shoot, group dynamics, and what we can expect from them in the future. Check out the new track as well the full interview below!

PREMIERE: Off With His Head! – Night Kids

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With Your Friends, Long Drive (Night Kids Remix) – Skrillex

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The New Philadelphia: So to start from the beginning, how did you guys all meet?

Thomas: Well this is my sister (points to Jill), so I’ve known her for a while.

Jill: Willie’s my boyfriend…

Jacky: And I’m Thomas’s girlfriend.

TNP: Where are you all from?

Willie: I’m from Colorado.

Thomas: And we’re all from California.

Willie: But for how we all met…me and Jill met a while back in high school at a show in California and started talking. Then a few years later, I saw that she was going to the same school that I was applying to, Parsons, so we just started going out and we were into the same music and everything. I met Thomas through her.

Thomas: I met Jacky sort of through my previous group’s Myspace page. The thing that’s weird is that one of her friends befriended me and then through that…

Jacky: Yeah so I knew of him, and funny thing was I hated him. I was like, oh this guy is a womanizer and this is not acceptable.

Thomas: Anyways, so…

Jacky: We started becoming really good friends, talked every day and then eventually moved here. The Night Kids thing was happening, and it was in its prime, and me and Jill decided to go in…

Jill: It actually started as the two guys.

Willie: It started off when I finally moved to New York, me and Thomas did some collaborations. We did some Effector [Willie’s previous project] remixes, and some songs where we featured Thomas on vocals. Then we decided to just do our own thing and call it Night Kids, and obviously it was just missing that certain flare. So the ladies came in and that’s when everything kind of clicked and we started making some music we really liked.

TNP: So how would you guys describe your sound?

Jill: Dirty.

Willie: We try to make songs that are as filthy as possible that will get a party crazy, and at the same time add our own melodic touch. As in something you want to hear bumping at a club, but also something you chill at home and listen to.

TNP: Can you tell me about the experience of shooting your first video?

Jacky: That was so fun.

Thomas: At first I was kind of like, oh no, we’re going to get murdered out here.

TNP: Welcome to Philly.

Thomas: Not even because of Philly, we were just like, where are we? We thought we were going to see our own graves. It was fun though.

Willie: We got really lucky, the videographer was super cool. She was really prepared, and she had the whole shot list.

Willie: She was really professional, and at the same time she was like, just go crazy and just be you.

Jill: We were jumping off of ropes and walls, it was awesome.

Thomas: We also recorded in a factory.

Willie: Oh yeah! After it got a little too dark to film at the abandoned pier, we were getting really cold, it’s freezing today. So we went to these factory lofts. There was  a cool freight elevator and long hallways and we had some fun in there.

Thomas: Our directive was just to run through the hallways.

Jill: Which was a long maze. It didn’t even feel like work, it was just fun.

Thomas: Willie almost died.

(All laugh)

Thomas: No really.

Willie: Oh yeah, so I was running through a hallway and at the end of the shot we were supposed to run into the freight elevator and close the gate.

Thomas: So he slipped, and he’s like dragging it down towards his face and then at the last second he put his head up…

Willie: I basically almost got decapitated by the elevator door.

Jacky: Overall I think it was such a fun experience for all of us, we’d never done anything like that before.

TNP: What song was it for?

Jacky: “We Are”.

Thomas: It’s the intro to the EP.

TNP: And while we’re on that topic, what can you tell me about the EP?

Jill: It was released this summer, towards the end of the summer.

Willie: It was released on We Own Records. They’re trying to do a record label; they’re mainly a nightlife clothing company in Scotland. We’ve been doing a lot of stuff with them, they’ve used some of our songs in some of their promo videos. They decided to sell our album off their website, and it went over really well.

Thomas: So the EP was titled “The Owl Movement”, which was supposed to be a little play on words.

Both girls: Bowel movement!

Thomas: I Googled it before to make sure no one had already done it.

Jill: It started with a lot of singles that we did and we just wanted to have one final product, like this is the Night Kids, we worked on this.

Jacky: We used to just make songs and then post them immediately. So for this, we would make a new song and be like, god we want to release it so bad. But we were saving it for the EP. And they’re all connected too.

Willie: It was a lot of fun conceptually making the album. The whole album sort of sounds like a DJ set, each one mixes into the next. It doesn’t really tell a story, but we tried to include all the aspects of each of our musical backgrounds. There’s some dubstep in there, there’s poppy electro in like “Wet Dream”, the fourth track. There’s really dirty electro in “Bangher”, the third track. One of our most popular tracks, “Don’t Fuck Up”, we re-did for the second track.

Thomas: We called it “Don’t Fuck Up Again”.

Willie: And then the last song is just straight up vocals.

Thomas: We wanted to end it on a soft, mellow note.

Jacky: Funny story is that the lyrics for that song are about Willie and Jill, but Thomas and I sing it.

Thomas: Yeah, I made the song like a year ago, but I never finished it. Then I was like, maybe we could use this for the last song, so I tried to expand it, changed the lyrics, and we ended up putting it on there.

Jill: It’s a good breather after all the hits of the first four songs.

TNP: It’s cool that you guys are doing a bunch of different sounds. So what’s the dynamic like between the four of you when you guys are recording tracks?

Willie: We’ll all kind of conceptualize an idea. I’ll start kind of making beats and Thomas comes in and helps me with the melody. Then after we get a sound that all of us like, then we’ll all come in and record vocals or synth parts together. We have lots of vocal talent within these three, and Jacky’s been playing piano since she was 4. It kind of starts with an idea, and then I feel like the song is just handed off to each one of us at some time throughout production. Then at the end, we all kind of come together and put it all together.

TNP: And then what’s the dynamic like live? How is performing for you guys?

Willie: Well, we can tell you what the dynamic is about to be, as well as what it is now. Right now we just kind of do two at a time and the other two are just kind of like hyping, going crazy behind. That’s a lot of fun, but we all want to be a little more busy. So I just bought some turntables, so we’ll be running on two vinyls and two CDJs. We’ll all be on the deck.

TNP: That’s awesome. Along those lines, could you just outline what you run?

Willie: Yeah we run two Pioneer CDJs and a Pioneer DJM-400 mixer. We run it through Traktor Pro and we just got two Stanton vinyls. Oh yeah, and we also run through a Korg Kaoss Pad which really helps with a lot of effects and transitions. It just kind of spices up the music so even if they’ve heard the song before, in our set it will sound different than what they’re used to.

TNP: About the Night Kids story that’s posted around online…what’s the story behind that?

Thomas: When we first applied to play a residency at a club, someone told me that it would be a good idea to have a concept that we could use as a description for when they’re trying to advertise our show. So I kind of sat down the day they said that, and I was like, I’m going to write sort of a really short ridiculous intro. I mean, it’s not true obviously, but I was kind of just making it up as I go. I wanted to make it a little funny.

Willie: Yeah we wanted to put some of our humor in there.

Thomas: We don’t want people to think we take ourselves too seriously.

Jacky: I mean we named our EP off of “The Bowel Movement”…

Thomas: I actually wouldn’t mind if people thought it was completely true.

Willie: Yeah, I think a lot of people don’t get the joke to be honest.

Jill: (laughs) They’re like WHOA.

Thomas: These kids are like, there’s something wrong with these people. But the whole concept of Night Kids was supposed to be like this army of insomniacs. It didn’t even have to be just music, it’s just people who are most creative at night, who love to do things at night, who just hate the routine of everyday things. And since all of us have pretty packed schedules, nighttime is really just the time when we can break free. So that’s kind of what I was trying to get to with that.

TNP: So what do you think of Philly so far?

Jill: They know how to party, they really do.

Jacky: I wish you could take the people from Philly and just put them in New York. I mean New York is rough sometimes. One really bad experience was we played a show and they were just like, who listens to this shit?

Willie: It was our own party that night, and it was bullshit because this private party was happening and our party was supposed to start at 12. Well the private party kept on going after 12 and they wouldn’t let our fans in. And it was just a bunch of rich people who were obsessed with top 40 and hip-hop.

Jill: Willie got grabbed by the collar.

TNP: Yikes.

Jacky: But the people here in Philly…I was just shocked at the energy.

Jill: They don’t stop.

Thomas: We’d never played a show like that, ever.

Jacky: Yeah I think it was one of our best shows.

Willie: I mean the better the crowd is, the better we’re going to be. And Philly really brought it on. I’m excited for tonight.

Claire: Who would you consider some of your influences?

Jacky: Skrillex is one.

Willie: Yeah he’s been real big lately, and we’ve definitely gotten into his sound. I’m almost jealous, because I feel like he’s getting big doing what we’re trying to do right now. He has so many different styles, and he brings his own vocals into his tracks and makes it poppy and dirty at the same time. So I guess you can call him an influence, but I also want to say it’s kind of an idea that we already shared. Also, how we got into electro is that we were all pretty big into hardcore.

Jill: Yeah we were all emo-heads.

Jacky: We were all into the scene.

TNP: That’s funny, especially considering where Skrillex comes from.

Thomas: I loved From First To Last.

Willie: More major influences though…

Jacky: Bloody Beetroots.

Thomas: Sebastian, Yuksek, Boys Noize, Justice.

Willie: There are so many songs that we love the sound of that are just from some anonymous remixer. Basically, I feel like especially in electro music, unfortunately sometimes you don’t look at the artist as much as whether or not it will be good at a party. There’s just so much anonymous shit out there that’s so good, and only the certain few can rise above all the white noise below it.

Thomas: That’s what we strive to do. We want to be different, but also have that sound that people can party to.

TNP: Last question…if you guys could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

Willie: What if we collaborated with Bach?

Thomas: We’d bring our beats and he’d bring his orchestra.

Jacky: That’s actually one of the things that I’d like to do because my background is classical music. That would be pretty sick if we did something like classical with a dirty drop.

Thomas: Opera singers…yeah let’s do Bach. I think he’d probably be terrified of us, but that’s a good answer.



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