Just the other day, I was lucky enough to sit down with the prolific DJ/ producer duo Styles & Complete before their Tomorrowworld appearance in order to talk about their career and to gain some of their unique perspective on the electronic music scene. The duo hails from North Carolina (it’s a hotbed for electronic music out there) but Styles had recently moved out to the San Fernando Valley to stay close to the industry and enjoy the benefits of living in Southern California (when I arrived Styles was recounting a recent “porn star karaoke” session, these guys are doing things right!). The two have a very comfortable demeanor and though it may have been the faint North Carolina accent, they seemed like exceptionally genuine, friendly dudes who share a passion for making music and an enthusiasm for the electronic music community as a whole.
The two are about to embark to Atlanta this weekend to perform at the sold-out Tomorrowwold festival (1:00 PM Friday at the trap stage) and in anticipation, they’ve prepared this exclusive pre-tomorrowworld mix for us to enjoy! (Tracklist is at the bottom).
Tell us a little about how it all started, how did you guys meet each other?
C: We met in Charlotte north Carolina, I was a DJ around town and I made a youtube video that got a lot of recognition called “I Love Charlotte”… it was pretty corny but it was also very well mixed down because I was an intern at a recording studio there and [Styles] was producing for the ying yang twins at the time. He hit me up because he wanted my input on how to mix down shit… He commented on the youtube saying “Hey, lets get up and working on some music”… it turns out we had gone to the same HS and didn’t even know each other… and we got together. I wanted to make real music and here was a producer [willing to help].
S: Yeah…and I… I wanted to work with somebody… I felt two heads would be better than one and I just kind of had a feeling… Im sort of a spiritual person… I had a feeling that I needed to work with somebody else. One thing let to another… I thought “I want to see what this guy is about” it was sort of a random comment. Not so much a “lets get up” but more of “If you ever think of something”… and then the next day we talked and then we were in the studio for two years
C: Making rap beats.
S: Right away, it was like “alright, I got this shit I’m working on for the Ying Yang Twins help me do this” and he was like “Alright, I want to make a beat that sounds like this but I can’t really make it but I know I want it to sound like this” and it was two years of him building his beat game up and and two years of me building my mashing and mixing game up and then we decided to start “Styles & Complete”
C: When we first got together it was 2008 and then in 2010, he went to a Steve Aoki show in Charolette at Neighborhood theatre before you know… it was a 1500 cat room if you can imagine Steve Aoki playing a room for only 1500 [people] and he texted me “Holy fucking shit, this is what we need to be doing! You’re a DJ! I could make the fuckin’ beats and we could do this shit!” That was the catalyst. Then we got up and made a beat that sounded like some Deadmau5 shit and then we went from that to being like “Okay, we’re making dubstep.” And when we started making dubstep, it was real Hip-hop influenced because we’ve always made hip hop shit… we grew up on hip hop… so we were making hip hop -style dubstep, you know?
I think the first track I remember from you guys was that “Bombs over Baghdad” track?
S:That was literally our first release!
It was on some big blog
S&C: This Song Is Sick!
C: Our first song ever was featured on This Song is Sick. We hadn’t even done a show before and we’d had a song up there and it was just like “Holy shit, this has 50,000 plays, what the fuck!”
And you were already doing beats for Ying Yang Twins?
S: That’s a whole other story… I was performing at this club for a little bit and I got cool with the owners and they were like “Yo, Bubba Sparxxx is coming by, do you wanna meet him?” and he started up this band and put me in it and that didn’t work out but then one day the Ying Yang twins came in and they listened to my demo, bid on it and came over to my house — which was crazy — and we made a track that night. And just like that I was going to Atlanta once a month [to work with them].
So basically you just persevered, going to the cub, being in the environment and one day the right person came in and it stuck for you?
S: Yeah, I met a bunch of people and was handing people demos all the time… I met Chamillionaire, Flo Rida, Lil Flip who we have a track with right now….
What kind of stuff was on the demos?
S: Just a lot of beats… a lot of random hip hop beats but they were always weird and different. They were never the normal generic hip hop beat… it was always some weird shit, you know? Always good enough for an artist to rap on but it would be borderline not that good… I knew things had to be better in the beat and I couldn’t quite pinpoint what… that’s why I knew I needed someone to help me get shit right. I knew what I wanted to do and I would do whatever it took to make shit happen. And I could tell [Complete] felt the same way… it was like two [intersecting] dreams… we knew we needed help and we fuckin’ helped each other.
It sounds like you felt like you were a little over your head at that point
S: And the cool thing was that when we did get together, we were pretty on point combining our talents together to make good records from day 1! Actually, our first record was 500,000 plays, it was a Jason Derullo remix that we got the stems to 5 days before the stems came out
How’d you get the stems for that?
C: I worked at the radio station and he sent a promo and I listened and thought “We should try make a remix to this shit!” and we did. But then the label took it down quick *laughs*
S: It got 500,000 plays in the first week! That’s still pretty good for us! but we realized that wasn’t our style… we wanted to make hip hop meets dubstep…
C: And then we made “Bombs Over Baghdad” which is our official first track.
It sounds like You (Complete) had the ear going into things and you (Styles) had the production ability
S: It was really raw ability… it’s not like I could sit here and play Mozart… though I’ve memorized some Beethoven before… I could play something dope, but I couldn’t play any crazy chords or anything like that, you know? That’s not what I do, its more about hearing [what’s good]. Being able to manipulate the programs and using technology is how I [create music].
At this point, does it still work that way? Where Complete is the DJ and Styles is the Producer?
C: Over time it’s really come more towards the middle… Styles is still more the Producer and I’m still more the DJ but its [much more balanced] now. These days I start a good portion of the projects to send to him… Im a much better producer now… but he’s a much better engineer and performance-wise… he’s gotten good at DJing and performing on stage.
S: He never has writers block whereas I get writers block… a lot *laughs* So it’s perfect when I’m blocked because he’s making beats which are super-on point and because we’ve worked together for so long, I see him so well… if something’s not all the way there, I know exactly what he’s trying to do. But lately he’s making beats that are all the way there so I can just [focus] on putting the craziness into it and making it detailed.
C: Sometimes I’ll send him a project that’s 90% done, sometimes he’s make a beat all by himself… If he’s doing his thing I just let him create. When he’s in his zone I just don’t get in the way.
S: We’ve been working together for so long that we have the same style. So it’s like, I can make a beat all by myself or he could make a beat all by himself and we could touch it up in the end and you wouldn’t be able to tell [which one of us] made the beat individually.
When did you (Styles) first start making beats?
S: I started when I was maybe 16 or 17… I’m 28 now.
C: I’m 29… It’s like 90 in Trap producer years *laughs*
Speaking of which, you just did a session with NGHTMRE, right? Isn’t he one of the younger producers right now?
C: He’s 22? 23? That’s middle of the road for Trap Producers! We have a track with Jauz and he’s mad young.
Isn’t that intimidating?
S: It’s intimidating but at the same time, we work with them. They look up to us. They’re happy to work with us and we’re happy to work with them; they’re amazing.
C: They have fresh sounds
S: We think both of them are going to be big
C: They’re really able to develop their sound… when you’re younger, you can put that much more energy into it, you know?
S: and being out here… I like being around those guys because they each live in houses full of musicians and when you go over, its just constant music going on. Even the people who aren’t big producers or anything, they’re fucking killing it… they all go to Icon [Production school] over here
C: L.A. is like a factory
S: And I get to sit out here and learn tons more. And Jauz… I met him a long time ago when he had no following.. I found him on SoundCloud and his page had 7 songs and I liked them all. I added him on twitter, liked him on facebook and he hit me up. I just told him “I liked all your tracks, I’ve never done that before,” found out he lived [nearby] and we started working.
It sounds like you guys have a lot of respect for these younger producers.
S: I don’t really look at age as a number, whatever the saying is. All of ‘em are mature and are people I’d hang out with. These guys are good and they’re good people and we get along. I don’t even work that much with Jauz I just chill with him.
And you found him through SoundCloud! Is that how you guys go about discovering new music?
C: We always watch the stream. I’ve found out about a lot of artists from homies reposting. The first time I heard about Caked Up was because Crizzly reposted.
S: Sometimes we’ll be in the car with a promoter and he’ll play something dope.
C: Or through other DJs… even DJ’s who don’t produce… [those guys] always know the best music because if they’re not producing, they spend so much time looking for music… meeting those people is great. They dig more than anybody… I come from DJ culture, you know? I was DJing 7 years before I met him (Styles), you know what I’m saying? so to see that still be alive is pretty cool.
Yeah, you said you were on a radio station?
C: I did a top 40’s mix show in Charlotte. I got started DJing in college at a strip club when I was 19 *laughs* that’s where I get my street cred.
Can we expect more Styles & Complete strip club gigs in 2015?
C: Cut the check, let’s go!
We’ll do that here in LA, a Run The Trap Strip Club event! We’ll set it up. That’s what’s got to happen!
S: I’m actually teaching a porn star how to DJ right now… we made a deal, I’m teaching her and she’s gotta bring her hot friends wherever…. that’ll be a crazy party *laughs*
How do you feel about the changes going on with Soundcloud?
C: It is what it is. I think their Iphone app sucks! As an artist, I can’t do a lot of what I want to do, like checking stats. They should have an artist app! If they’re going to monetize they’re going to monetize and if they’re gonna take down copyright shit, that’s just life, whatever.
Lets talk about genres and Trap music and where everything is heading right now. You guys really started off making Dubstep and it sort of morphed into trap music.
C: It was all about dubstep until someone played us Original Don and we were like “hold up”
S: Like, “you can put an 808 in a dubstep track?” See, when we made dubstep it was still very hip hop influenced. If you noticed, all our songs had rap verses in it and a lot of vocals compared to most other shit. We were trying to find that electronic movement… we called it “dirty south electro-swag” at the time and we were trying to find that groove… the new genre… that mix of hip hop and electronic music. We didn’t want to confine ourselves to dubstep. We didn’t listen to the hardcore dubby dub dubstep.
C: That Swamp-step.
S: We listened to more bro-step type shit. It was just… our style and I liked how they were manipulating the sounds and how clean it was. But trap was a natural progression for us, a no-brainer.
Where do you think we’re going with Trap and future bass?
C: I feel like…its getting to the point where everyone is just going to do everything. After Deep House, what’s the next trend? I guess DnB could come back but what the fuck is going to be the next thing? The next shit is going to be a combination of everything that’s been done… which is fun.
S: We’re making a whole album of just multiti-genre tracks.
C: And also, working with mainstream artists… bringing trap into the foreground like Carnage did with Bricks by Migos… that’s a song being played on hip hop radio stations, you know? To me, the future is about bridging the gap to where that sound is now getting infused into the mainstream.
S: And with Dubstep, I feel like a piece of the pie has come back a little bit recently. It’s filling that groove we’ve been missing. We have everything else and now it’s finally coming back… when you make a beat, you can do anything you want and that seems to be how it is for every producer I talk to these days. They’re not really stuck on something, they’re open to anything. Especially some of the dubstep producers I meet, they still do dubstep and they’re kind of like, trying to bring it back… but they’re still trying to add that other piece, that other element, just like everyone else and I feel like… it’s going to be here forever.
C: I don’t think any of the genres actually die. I mean, they die as far as the hipsters aren’t necessarily fucking with them anymore but that doesn’t mean when Destroid comes to your city they won’t sell out. It’s always going to have its niche and its always going to have the big artists like Flux Pavillion. The legendary big dubstep records are always going to be legendary and they’re always going to be around… Skrillex Cinema is still going to be a classic 10 years from now… I Can’t Stop… so I dont think any genre actually dies, it’s just a cycle of what’s hot. And the people who don’t put a lot of thought in to what they like and who go with the masses… okay, that’s not Dubstep anymore. But dubstep fans are everywhere and they come to shows and they buy music and they’re passionate… they’re just like metal fans or fans of any genre of music. They’re going to come out and come to shows and if you want to come up as a dubstep producer, you just can’t make dubstep that sounds like the dubstep from 3 years ago when that sound was hot. You have to make very, very, very, new-sounding, creative shit.
You guys have been touring across the Country, have you noticed any geographical trends with regards to music tastes? Is there a difference between the West, the East, the North and the South?
S: Everybody’s got their own communities. Some places you’ll go and it’ll be like “Oh yeah, they love dubstep here.”
C: You can tell… a small town will not be like “we want fucking deep house,” they’ll often still be catching the wave on stuff that was poppin’ 6 months ago in LA. Sometimes it takes time to filter through different markets.
S: We could play a whole set from like, a year and a half ago, and it would kill in some places and they we could go to other places and we’d have to make a new set… we always make a new set for every show because it’s just different everywhere you go.
Manager Jack: There’s that music is getting pretty popular in Ohio, its like a new form of dubstep what do they call it? Sludge?
C: That’s not a fuckin’ thing!
S: Oh yeah, I read about that in a big article.
I’ll have to look that up
Manager Jack: It’s for like, a group of 25 guys in hoodies. It’s not called sludge but something like it.
C: So It’s not sludge but sludddgeeeeeeeee
We’ll have to make that a thing. “Ey bro, you going to Sludgefest?” Speaking of which, I just saw you guys are about to do a big show here, right? Spam and… Spam and….
C: Yeah, Spam and Eggs, big shout out to Far East Movement, it’s their party and we connected with them through our homie Rell The Soundbender who’s a good friend of ours from Charlotte
S: Yeah, we’ve got something in the works with Far East right now too.
Oh yeah! Tell us what you’ve got on the way! Give us a tease!
C: A track with Far East Movement is in the works, two tracks with K Stylis that we’re finishing up right now, a track with Lil’ Flip and Crichy Crich… then we got a collar with Nghtmre a collar with Jauz, two originals coming out in the next month or so…
S: Next week! And we gotta make some remixes… we’ve got a bunch of shit that’s in the construction phase. And we’ve got a chill song I’ve got in the works, I’ll play it for you after this.
RTT: Let’s talk about the studio real quick! Where are you guys making music most of the time?
C:*Holds up laptop* right here!
S: Sometimes I use friends’ studios or the Icon studio, we had a space across from Rell back in Charlotte.
On the laptops! Doing your thing. Any favorite software or gear?
S: Reason. Nobody I know uses Reason besides Snails and Lucky Date but I don’t know… I tried to fuck with Ableton but… [Complete] made the switch
C: He’s a Reason black-belt and it’s just easier for me to get my ideas down in Ableton so I can lay them down and send ‘em back to Styles.
S: And I just got the new version of Reason *shows me on his laptop* it comes out the 30th but I can test it.
You guys have made it, do you have any tips for the producer out there who might be struggling?
C: Music-wise, just do you and work hard.
S: Have good sounds.
C: Just recognize you need to place music above everything else… spend time on making good music over being good at social media because in the end it will pay off
S: And get it done. If it’s not going well, then stop and get started on something else. But you’ll know when it’s popping and when it is, just finish that shit. Don’t dwell on projects and go too long… I’m preaching to myself right now.
There you have it! Be sure to catch Styles & Complete during their set at Tomorrowworld or catch them at one of their upcoming shows below! (Spam and Eggs is looking siiiiiiick).
1. Styles&Complete ft. K-Stylis- READY
2. Rae Sremmurd- No Flex Zone (Styles&Complete Remix)
3. LAXX- Gold Plated (Styles&Complete Edit)
4. Dirt Monkey & Nathaniel Knows- Set It off
5. Hydraulix + Oski + Creaky Jackals- Grind
6. Wuki- Hot (Buku Remix)
7. Whatsonot- Touched (Slumberjack Remix)
8. Bobby Shmurda- Hot Nigga (Dotcoms Retwerk)
9. Ice Cube & Redfoo- Drop Girl (NGHTMRE Remix)
10. Rell the Soundbender + Styles&Complete- MTHAFKA
11. Protohype & The Frim- Crazy
12. Jayceeoh & Woogie- 2THAWALL
13. Far East Movement ft. YG & Rell the SoundBender- Grimey Thirsty
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