“Every Fucking Feeling Equals Something Special,” David Singer-Vine says, chuckling as he spells out the acronym for EFFESS, the new Atlantic imprint he runs with producer Felix Snow. EFFESS is actually a play on Snow’s initials, but Singer-Vine had to figure out what the name meant for him.
Snow and Singer-Vine started the label last year, but before they met, both musicians were prolific in their fields. After graduating from New York University, Snow signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell. The first artist he came up with was TDE’s first lady SZA, with producer credits throughout her S EP. Snow’s name is all over R&B sensation Gallant’s debut EP, Zebra, as well, and he has produced for Rita Ora, Selena Gomez and Christina Aguilera.
Even if the name Singer-Vine doesn’t sound familiar, one of his biggest singles probably will: He was half of the duo The Cataracs, who co-wrote and produced Far East Movement's 2010 hit, “Like a G6.” Singer-Vine met his Cataracs counterpart Niles Hollowell-Dhar in high school and they were together for almost 10 years. While the two grew up together in the music world, they eventually grew apart.
“The good thing is we’re best friends first,” Singer-Vine says. “We got so much love for each other. But my life after The Cataracs and before [EFFESS] wasn’t easy. You go from sort of resenting the most popular thing you did to cherishing it.”
Singer-Vine and Snow originally connected through Twitter in early 2014 — what Singer-Vine calls a “really great exception” to his usual zero-tolerance policy on Twitter meetups. Their first attempt at working together hatched a project called Momma, which unfortunately was a flop. After that, they severed ties, only to reconnect the following year while working with singer-songwriter and Atlantic artist Kiiara.
“Kiiara was familiar with my work in The Cataracs,” Singer-Vine recalls. “We’d been going back and forth on email for, like, two years. I was sort of in my own self-discovery process, so it took me two years to say, ‘Hold up, this girl has a magical voice. I gotta take a shot at this.’" He scheduled some studio time with her and "Felix, of course, was the first guy I called up. We did a weekend, and ‘Gold’ was the third song we made.”
“Gold,” which dropped in June 2015, now has more than 12.6 million plays on Soundcloud, and 3 million–plus plays on YouTube. She’s the poster child for what the two can do as EFFESS. “It was definitely the birth of EFFESS,” Snow says. “EFFESS and Kiiara happened together.”
Another product of EFFESS has been the top-secret project Terror Jr, which they launched through, of all things, a Kylie Jenner lip gloss commercial. Terror Jr is what they refer to as their “social experiment. It’s a puzzle, and we’re gonna give out pieces with each song,” Singer-Vine says. The first song Terror Jr released was “3 Strikes,” which soundtracks the three-minute, music video–like commercial that launched Kylie Cosmetics.
With the release of the first single from their upcoming compilation Nukes in the Kitchen, Snow's “Lies” featuring SZA, EFFESS are poised to make a name for themselves in today's dance-pop scene. Snow and Singer-Vine place SZA over an uptempo beat, something more luminous than SZA’s typical range. Kiiara and Terror Jr twinkle with the same dance-pop sheen, as do elements of Gallant’s Zebra EP, though its vibe is more ethereal.
Singer-Vine admits to having an obsession with contrast, “I love putting two people or sounds together that have absolutely no business being together. So with ‘Like a G6,’ I mean you’re having this like soft, angelic girl who is quoting Three 6 Mafia. With Kiiara, you have this girl who’s from a town of 5,000 people. She’s not hip-hop at all — in a weird way, her voice is kinda folky, R&B.”
“When you [read through] like music history and shit, the most poignant moments always happen when things were put together that shouldn’t have been put together,” Snow adds.
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With EFFESS, the intention is to push the sound forward, to be fearlessly creative, but to also make accessible music. Both Singer-Vine and Snow are completely hands-on with their artists — which for them creates a special chemistry with every one of their signees. And because of that, they feel more fulfilled. “We are the creative process and we’re running the label,” Snow says, “Usually those two things [are] separated. That’s something that is new and good — it’s progressive.”
For more on EFFESS, visit effessempire.com.