It's a Friday morning, and David Singer-Vine and Niles Hollowell-Dhar sit on the sun-dappled patio of their favorite taco stand, Silver Lake's El Siete Mares. But they don't order food. “It's too early for tacos,” Singer-Vine, 24, says as he shakes his head, his eyes still a little sleepy.
Just in from the club?
“I can't do the club thing. All these sleazy girls with sex in their eyes attached to these big muscular dudes with leased cars,” says Singer-Vine, who's chatty with a wicked sense of sarcasm. Hollowell-Dhar, 23, who's toting a book and has the air of an intellectual, chimes in: “Girls with money in their eyes. You get inside and it's packed [and] they're playing loud techno music.”
This is not the conversation we expected from The Cataracs, the production/hip-hop duo who wrote and produced 2010's definitive anthem for a certain type of bottle-poppin' club-goer, Far East Movement's “Like a G6.” With thick, thumping bass lines, plopping keys and choruses that riff on classic rap hooks, their stuff is what gets wobbly drunk girls hopping up on VIP couches.
In 2006 and 2007 they released volumes of their work Technohop. They discovered electro-pop princess Dev, and then co-wrote her debut single, “Bass Down Low,” which has racked up over 38 million YouTube views. Their latest EP, Gordo Taqueria, which comes out next Tuesday, July 17, definitely will be spun in the club. Don't they need to be out gettin' slizzered for research or something?
Actually, no. “Jewish guys wrote Christmas songs; The-Dream wrote 'Single Ladies.' We make party music, but we make fun of party music so much at the same time … why should party music be so serious? It's funny. We try to parody it a little bit,” Singer-Vine says.
The two met as sophomores at Berkeley High School. A mutual friend introduced them, and they began making music together.
As MySpace blew up, the guys' skate crew (which included Lil B's group The Pack, for whom The Cataracs have produced) turned into a music crew, but they never intended to make electronic music. “We didn't really listen to techno music! We started making electronic music without ever listening to it. All of our homies who didn't listen to it either were like, 'Oh yeah, man, that's techno, man!' just because it was faster [than rap],” Singer-Vine says, laughing.
They parted ways briefly after high school, with Singer-Vine going to film school in Chicago and Hollowell-Dhar heading to San Francisco State. But after a year, both moved back to the Bay and in with their parents. Soon they felt they'd gone as far as they could (“We wanted to hear our stuff on the radio”) and made the leap to L.A. four years ago.
“There's so much money in making beats for other people,” Hollowell-Dhar says. True, if those people are Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, two other artists who've snatched up The Cataracs' beats. “But we decided to go back to that time where we were just in our room making music for hours. It is hard, but … rewarding. [Our song] might get a million views instead of 15 million, but it means a hundred times more 'cause it's our name on it,” Hollowell-Dhar continues. (There he goes being modest; “Like a G6” has over 87 million views.)
Though they wrote and produced almost every track on Gordo Taqueria, they're most excited about “Roll the Dice,” on which they share production credits with radio wizard Stargate (Wiz Khalifa, Katy Perry) and EDM giant Wolfgang Gartner. Maybe their next song to blow up will be their own; just don't expect them to go to the club to hear it.
The Cataracs' latest EP, Gordo Taqueria, will be released next Tuesday, July 17.