No Regular play will fuck up anything you ever thought you knew about jazz. Take the timeless sound of jazz maestros like John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock, throw in a sultry, deep house shuffle—with a side of A Tribe Called Quest—and top it all off with a splash of slow-burning Soul Clap funk—then you'll be well on your way to understanding the minds of Greg Paulus and Nick DeBruyn.
These two young Minnesotans have been on a quest to inflict auditory delight since they were about eight years old and are armed with a trumpet, crooning vocals, a knack for sound-design, and a trained knowledge of musical composition. It took them a while to find their niche and perfect the transition from classically-trained jazz musicians to creators of uplifting house music, but what started off as an conflicting challenge would eventually birth the perfect symbiosis of two genres that in the right light, are smooth as butta.
It wouldn't take long for the guys from Wolf+Lamb, a label known as the highest authority on the slow and sensual, to scoop up the young duo and help send them on their path towards greatness and their true musical potential. These dudes take pride in being different and going against the grain and their music shows it. I got the chance to sit down with the Nick and Greg in the VICE offices on a Tuesday afternoon while they were enjoying some time off in their current homebase of Brooklyn, New York. We discussed their own jazz rebellion, being uncool in high school, finding paradise at the infamous Marcy Hotel and of course… hurling old pieces of cabbage at douchy club goers.
No Regular Play also threw together a super smooth exclusive mix for the THUMP family. Hit play before reading the interview and lock in to the groooove.
THUMP: So I know you guys are currently on a Fall tour and you just finished up a Crew Love mini-tour as well. I was actually at the Brooklyn show and that shit was off the hook! Tell me a little bit about the experience of those Crew Love parties and how those came together.
Nick DeBruyn: I think it first came together as the Wolf+Lamb experience parties; they had everyone on the label playing together. It kind of took a while to form this core group of artists that we were all comfortable hanging out and traveling together; working on music together. So we were doing some shows like that, three or four hours a show then Soul Clap started their own label and they kind of wanted to do a brand of both Wolf+Lamb and Soul Clap together.
It seems like there's a real family vibe.
Greg Paulus: Yeah for sure, and Gadi (of Wolf+Lamb) also has his own label, Double Standard Records, so that's a good way to combine them all as well.
Just from the show I went to it seems like everyone goes back to back and there's not really a concrete format or set times or anything like that.
ND: Yeah there's usually not any set times. Obviously someone's going to start out DJing and warming up the crowd and wait until there's a good amount of people there until the first live act will go on. But yeah its always just like—
GP: "Yeah you, go on now!" [laughs]. I guess it's important that nobody is, like, a douche, so we can have an impromptu situation like that.
Is there like a musical director of the evening or anything like that? Is anyone calling the shots?
ND: Well Gadi from Wolf+Lamb has always kind of been the one that everyone looks to find the right time to go on. He's been a mentor and the sprit of the whole thing for a long time.
So I know you guys are on a all tour right now and it seems like you guys hit up some pretty cool stops around the world. I just saw you guys did something in Zurich with a classical orchestra? What was going on there?
GP: Yeah, basically we were contacted by the Tonhalle Orchestra which is a really great orchestra in Zürich. They do this TonhalleLATE series where they have a traditional classical concert in the main hall then they open the doors and let everyone out into this side room that's way more modern. Here they'll have an electronic musician or DJ that will collaborate with members of the orchestra to do some sort of piece. It was totally open ended. They were just like, "You guys can use whatever musicians you'd like." and asked "Do you even want to do this? [laughs] Do you know how to do this?" So once we convinced them that we weren't bullshitting it all came together.
You guys are going to Mexico on Friday right? That seems rather exotic.
ND: Yeah, Guadalajara is cool, we've played down there before.
GP: I think I barfed last time I played there. We're big fans of tequila and tacos. We went through a couple bottles last time we played and Nick went home and they made me this drink which I realized was Baileys and tequila, and they lit it on fire and were like…. Adioooos!
I notice you guys are constantly DJing in tank tops and jerseys. Is there a story behind that?
GP: Lets see. That's mainly because Gadi (from Wolf+Lamb) made us all wear basketball jerseys for the Spain Crew Love tour. Everyone had to get custom Brooklyn Nets Jerseys. I forgot to order mine but Nick got one. But yeah, other then that we're often playing at places and it's hot as shit! Playing in Mexico, it's always like 100 degrees.
ND: Mine said "Mailman" on the back.
I know you both have been friends since you were, like, eight years old and grew up together in Minnesota. You got any funny experiences from when you guys were kids?
GP: Well when we became friends it was because I was playing Mortal Kombat with this other kid who was Nick's friend from the year before.
Nick: Yeah, I decided that kid wasn't cool anymore.
GP: Nick came up to me and was like "Dude, what are you doing playing that stupid Mortal Kombat bullshit? Why don't you come over and play some basketball!" I was like, "Okay."
ND: Yeah I don't think that kid ever had a friend again… Everyone's kind of mean when they're eight years old.
GP: We were pretty good kids for the most part in school but then had a year when we tried to make up for it by being bad kids. We ruined a couple construction sites and did other really stupid shit you would regret the next day. We also used to go to Whole Foods and snatch up all the old cabbage and bread that they would throw out then would drive around to a douchey club and throw cabbage at some guy with his girlfriend. Or launch a baguette.
Greg, you studied at the Manhattan School of Music and have a good deal of classical training. Is it hard for you to break those conventional ties of classical education when moving into more electronic stuff? Or did it help you even more?
GP: Not really. As I was graduating I was working really hard with a bunch of kids at the school to avoid those conventional ties. We were working with a teacher that would have half of the class play one song and then have the rest of us play another song at the same time, completely clashing and shaking it up. You get this wonky thing that starts to slowly become something completely different. We started playing way more free-jazz type stuff and of course the school hated us for it. They were like "You guys better not play like that in a club" and "You guys are fucking on mushrooms and acid and are screaming and doing really weird shit," so then I knew I was probably on to something good! I was so pissed off at them and the jazz scene in general that was not fostering this exploration of creativity so I just completely left the scene all together and moved out to Brooklyn. I started going to parties at Third Ward and hearing a lot of electronic music and thought It was so awesome. I always approached it with the idea of it not being too complicated; it's about the groove and the feeling and rhythm all locking in together, instead of being this complex harmony. I did a good job at not having too many preconceptions.
Nick, what was your first introduction to electronic music?
ND: Greg and I really got into it at the same time when I moved out to NY. We were living together in Bushwick going to Wolf+Lamb parties and The Bunker and Tonic. So we kind of came to it at the same time. We went out to Decibel Festival in Seattle and saw some more weirder IDM type stuff, and that influenced us a lot. It was all pretty much brand new to us.
How did you guys first link up with the Wolf+Lamb dudes?
ND: Greg had been sending them some tracks and we had been bumping into Zev and Gadi at their parties a bunch, and we just really liked the vibe there and were really into that music. At first they were like "Yeah, you know, this is ok—keep on trying" [laughs] and I think finally we sent them something they were really into. We were making some really weird techno stuff at first and we really had no idea how to produce and then we started doing some more house-sampled, jazz-influenced stuff.
GP: Yeah I think we finally started to embrace our roots in our productions, which was a really good thing. We tried to get away from trying to make Villalobos-style techno and stuff. That's not really what I know how to do. Also Wolf+Lamb were looking for something new at the same time. At first they were playing minimal techno at their parties then after a while they started going for more of a house sound and we sent them some of that stuff which they loved. We started going to The Marcy and jamming with them and it just clicked.
Describe the vibe at The Marcy a bit for me.
GP: [Laughs] Well at that point it was kind of this Shangri-La palace of like… delightfulness. The first time we came over there was just beautiful women hanging out everywhere.
ND: There's a steam room, people walking around naked, people drinking and getting high.
ND: Yeah it was like a house party all the time or just people chilling, working on music. It was such a good introduction for us to the whole scene. Everybody who's now in this genre; the Visionquest guys, artists from all over were there. Everyone would stay there and it is such hotbed of creativity. We moved into the third floor shortly after meeting the dudes. That was great, the whole place is three floors and the whole building is all friends.
Who's just the all-around craziest person on the Wolf+Lamb/Soul Clap label?
ND: We usually like to go out with Tanner Ross. He's been on fire lately: musically and party-wise. We played with him in Buenos Aires and were arriving from Chile and he hit us up and was like "Where are you guys?! I just finished like three Bloody Mary's and a 40-ounce of Stella!"
GP: Yeah… It was 10 in the morning. I had a feeling when we got there that he would have already been three of four drinks deep. I was right. We got there and he was posted up at the hotel bar. He stayed pretty much that drunk the entire time we were there. Wine, steak… Je was off the wall.
Lets get random. Favorite childhood movie?
ND: Total Recall
GP: Hmmm. Groundhog Day or Caddyshack.
Great picks. How about a superpower?
ND: Hmm…I was never that into superheroes.
GP: Who has X-ray vision?
ND: He has everything!
GP: Yeah he's like a super… man!
Did you guys compete over girls growing up?
ND: I'd say were weren't that competitive. We didn't really have girlfriends until we were older so…
GP: [Laughs] Yeah that wasn't such a huge problem. We were kind of dorks back then, we would hang around smoking cigars and listening to jazz. I think that's more of a later in life turn on for chicks.
What are some aspirations you guys have for the next year? Are you looking to put together another album?
ND: Yeah were gong to start working on another album in the next couple months or so. We have to get back into in the studio for sure. We'd like to do more of a band type thing, whether that it be adding another person or doing something that would be appropriate for a stage at a festival.