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Music by VICE

Penthouse Penthouse: Ambassadors of the West Coast Future-Beats Movement

Why LA’s beat-making community is a breath of fresh air for EDM culture.

by Aaron Spiro
Sep 11 2014, 9:10pm

Photo by: Scott Oller

A couple of years ago I started to notice a divide amongst the new types of trap music spewing forth from the bowels of SoundCloud. It was the summer of 2012, where the "Harlem Shake" meme was at ALS levels of trendability worldwide, and producers were just beginning to overuse that now signature 'squeaky bedframe' sample in their tracks. It was also the same period of time that the name Penthouse Penthouse began rearing its head in my 'Recently Added' playlist, along with a plethora of other LA producers who seemed to have had enough with the ratchet screeps and bloops of up-tempo 'trap' music, and were collectively yearning for a more soulful, instrumental and overall groovy 808 flavoured world.

For me, Penthouse Penthouse were the initial ambassadors of this new breed of jazzy, R&B beat production, and I couldn't fucking get enough of it. Like a moth to the flame, I began incessantly digging through their social networks, and quickly came across Team Supreme—the brainchild of the PP duo that opened the floodgates of my hard drive to a whole new world of incredibly talented, and relatively unknown, producers.

Unlike traditional labels, and other various online music marketing platforms, Team Supreme's DIY mentality has a much more playful and genuine nature to it, which is exhibited clearly through their Weekly Cypher segment. Every week one sample is chosen and distributed to over a dozen producers, who must then each use the sample to make a track of their own. Once the producers are finished, all the creations are collected and blended together into a delicious mix, which is then promptly served to their rapidly growing numbers of salivating fans.

124 consecutive weeks have past since Preston and Mike put the Weekly Cypher train in motion, and its stable of artist contributors has grown from the original flock Colta, Preston James, Great Dane, Papi, King Henry, ELOS, Snorlax, FuzZ, Dapper Dan, Dot, and Nalepa. To include the likes of Mr. Carmack, Djemba Djemba, Kenny Segal, Evil Needle, Abjo, Lakim and a multitude of other talented artists from neighbouring likeminded labels, such as Soulection and HW&W.

The genuine love that the PP duo has towards music also extends well beyond the studio realm. Mike formerly studied Peace and Conflict Studies at Chapman University, where he initially met Preston, who was writing and touring off his music at the time, as well as many of the other pioneering producers in the Team Supreme family. Furthermore, their live show consists of them physically playing their songs with instruments in a band format, which in my opinion is always more engaging, and on top of that they both teach music production at competing schools in LA, while being adamant philanthropic members of their respective communities.

Apart from the endless hours of delectable music, this large family of west coast producers has also begun to shift the electronic music culture, by somewhat fusing it with the jazzy hip-hop roots of J. Dilla's era. Unlike the hoards of today's prototypical EDM bedroom producers, dreaming of infinite Facebook likes and Ciroc sponsored residencies in Vegas, this new breed are classier, have more sophisticated musicianship, and tend to focus more on musical theory, analog instrumentality and exuding an overall feel through their music, rather than jumping directly to overused synths and expectable genre formats and patterns.

Although PP has released a flurry of delectable music since Mike and Preston first Harry and Sally'd, they have yet to put together a comprehensive collection of tracks in EP or album format… that is until now. As luck would have it, I reached out to the duo about doing this piece at the same time that they were thinking about releasing their debut EP, and we been given the opportunity to both share the news, as well as offer up an exclusive track premiere of "Friend Zone."

After face-timing with them for half an hour, I felt as though I had known them for decades. The only negative feeling I got when I hung up was jealousy. As the interview further confirmed to me that the more authentic music culture lies in the west, as opposed to where I reside, in the east, amongst the over-promoted and soulless money-first morale that has draped itself over the live music scene like the black plague.

Mike and Preston seem to share the same ethos as those I've met who organize festivals like Burning Man and Shambhala, one that values things like health, awareness, freedom of expression, atmosphere, emotion and music, as all being equally important. Every experience I have with west coasters like PP seems to give me more of an incentive to pack up my snow covered bags and join my mellow, sun-kissed kin for a while along the pacific shores.

You can follow Aaron on Twitter: @Worstguyblog

If you liked this, you'll love:
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