2ToneDisco on Their Chiptune Sounds, Crazy Performances, and Reasons for Moving to L.A.
Remember that old chestnut from your Psych 101 days about how the whole being greater than the sum of its parts? Well, it happens to be totally true, and not when it comes to gestalt psychology. Its also can be easily applied to the music world, whether we're talking about supergroups, package concert tours, or the mash-up work of such greats as Z-Trip or Girl Talk.
AL!VE Omni Rutledge (left) and James Campbell of 2ToneDisco.
On the local level, the axiom also is applicable to the geektacular Phoenix-based DJ/producer duo known as 2ToneDisco. Comprised of chiptune fiend Omni Rutledge and British-born indie disco wizard James Campbell, the two blend their respective sonic specialties into quirky and chirpy tracks that are of an electro/nu-disco nature and evoke both an 8-bit aesthetic and a four-on-the-floor energy.
Needless to say, whenever 2ToneDisco presses start on their mixers and start going hard, its liable to get asses in motion. So if you're anywhere within earshot of Crescent Ballroom during 2ToneDisco's special guest set at Sean Watson's weekly Kismet party on Saturday, don't be surprised if their sounds cause you to shake a tail-feather.
Plus, the "super electro disco dance party" will probably be one of your last chances to see 2ToneDisco do their thing before the duo packs up and heads for L.A.
That's because Both Rutledge and Campbell have been experiencing a lot of success with 2ToneDisco over the last year or so, including releasing their latest track "Catnip" on Reid Speed's Play Me Records and performing gigs at clubs and other venues all over the country, but are hoping to grow as artists by heading to Southern California.
We got a chance to speak with 2ToneDisco before their gig on Saturday and chatted about their chiptune-influenced sounds, what they'll miss about Phoenix, and their success.
Name(s): James Campbell and Omni Rutledge
Preferred genres: Electro-house, nu-disco, and some goofy trap stuff.
Upcoming gigs: Saturday, August 16, at Crescent Ballroom and Friday, August 22, at Gypsy Bar.
What's the explanation behind the name 2ToneDisco?
James Campbell: Well it was originally from 2 Tone ska influence, also was an idea of one of the original members of [2ToneDisco] way back in the day. It's kind of funny that the guy who came up with the group name isn't involved anymore, but it just stuck.
How did each of you get into the DJ game?
Campbell: We both have been in music for a while. I would say I've been DJing for at least six years out at events. For me, I just kind of picked up some tables in high school, since I collected so many records anyway. Ever since then, it has grown and changed styles, but always heavily dance influenced.
Omni Rutledge: I was a producer for a pretty long time and was writing a lot of dancey electronic stuff, but I realized that the only way to effectively play it live for an audience was through a DJ set, so that's how I ended up getting into it
What's your creation process like?
Omni Rutledge: Well we initially teamed up in the beginning to just write one song together. I just went over to James' place with some disparate sounds and tracks here and there and then we kind of put it together and shaped a song. Since we've become a permanent duo, I've been the primary writer/producer of our tracks and I'll bring them over to James' or he'll come over to my place and we'll do a final mixdown and concrete arrangement together.
Campbell: It's a really streamlined and effective process, and it works well with both of our schedules being all over the place.
How much of an influence does chiptune music or video games play intro 2ToneDisco?
Omni Rutledge: I'd say it's pretty prevalent. I was actually a chiptunes producer before I joined 2ToneDisco, and when I came in, I was still muddling with finding a happy medium between esoteric nerd fandom chiptune stuff and more house-oriented dance music. So I'd say even now, those chiptunes roots of mine have come through a lot when I'm writing the tracks, but we're both big fans of videogames anyway, so even in terms of our visuals, logos, and song titles. The reference/inspiration is always pretty clear without just being a full-on chiptune duo.
Campbell: Yeah, we like it to be a good balance. We also take a lot of influence from Japanese culture as well. We are both huge fans of the music and lifestyle, even fashion that takes place over there.
Campbell: I'd say for music, you actually have a lot of melodic video game influenced sounds coming out of there.
Rutledge: Yeah, music specifically, I've drawn a lot of inspiration from Yasutaka Nakata, who's a Japanese producer that writes a lot for pop acts out of Japan. Japan has this really positive, almost cheesy sound that I find very uplifting and addictive. I think that's why a lot of our songs have a kind of happy/goofy feel to them. "Catnip," for example.
How much of 2ToneDisco is chiptune and how much is electro?
Rutledge: Oof. I think that's really a track-to-track thing. There are some tracks like "Games" that we released for free that are way more chippy, like entire sections of the song just break into downtempo chiptunes, but then there are songs like "Tokyo Sunrise" or "Go" where it's EDM with just little chiptune flares and sprinkles thrown in. Then there's stuff like "Catnip" that's 50/50 in that it's chiptune synths and overtones just kind of laid on top of heavier basses and drums.