Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FOTP Exclusive Interview with The Dirty Tees


Canadian duo Ryan Freeman and Grant Peters got together in 2010 to form The Dirty Tees. The release of their debut music video "Where We Are" and a slew of remixes for artists such as La Roux, Two Door Cinema Club and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs spread word of the band throughout the internet, particularly on blogs and music sites such as Soundcloud and HypeMachine. Their official [and amazing!] remix of Natasha Bedingfield's single "Touch" established a working relationship between themselves and the multi-platinum "Unwritten" songstress, which has already spawned a proper collaboration in the form of "Miracle". 

The duo are now managed by Bedingfield's production company and will be moving this September to Los Angeles, California to finish off their debut album. I had the opportunity to ask them a few questions and learn more about these awesome guys, check their answers below:


Hello The Dirty Tees! How are you both right now?
We’re both great! Life is good, haha – thanks for having us.

I saw on your twitter (@TheDirtyTees) you’ve just flown out to Toronto. What you doing there?
Both of our families live just outside of Toronto and we grew up there so it’s home for us and it’s treated us well!

You’re returning to Los Angeles in September to finish up your debut album. Why chose L.A. to be your base and not elsewhere?

For our situation, L.A is the most logical choice because we’ve begun to establish connections there via Natasha Bedingfield and her husband Matt Robinson who is currently our manager. Not to mention flights are so cheap between there and Toronto. 

How far are you into the record – almost done, half-way, just starting?

We’re probably at a solid medium right now. Most of the songs have been produced but only 5 or 6 have been written to or have vocal tracks laid down. We’re looking at a 10 – 12 song album with a hopeful release date of next spring or summer.

Have you decided on an album name, or got down to a shortlist of names for it? 

We’ve talked about it but haven’t really nailed anything to the wall. However the title “Odyssey,” has been discussed.

When you’re finished with your debut album and you put it out there for people to listen to, what do you want people to take away from it? What’s the underlying message or concept?

A major element that has been a goal for us since day one is to provide our audience with a certain level of interpretation when it comes to our lyrics. This recent wave of dance that has been introduced in the contemporary pop production has brought on some very shallow lyrical ideas for some reason. We have always tried to avoid lyrics with poor connotations such as, drugs, drinking, sex, because dance music is so powerful, yet many artists lose sight of that uplifting power and choose to embrace those poor connotations. So that being said, we want to take people on an emotional journey where dance music is the vehicle instead of your standard rock, pop, or alternative album where similar lyrical structures would be employed.

Would you prefer to release it independently, keep the reins of creative control in your own hand or are your sights set on a major label record deal?

We have decided be independent until we need to distribute the album. The large record labels appear to be going through some rocky times and we’ve heard some horror stories of artists who have signed with the majors, so our plan is to own the rights to our music rather than seek the help of a corporation. The idea is to sell the record to a major Indie label when the time is right.

Going right back to the beginning – which isn’t all that long ago – how did you guys first meet and form The Dirty Tees and then go on to having your very own music video (for the awesome awesome awesome “Where We Are”) out only a few months later?

Haha we’re glad you like it! Well, we met in 2006 during our sophomore year of high school and coincidentally, it turned out that we both produced music as a hobby so we began jamming and working on a few projects together for fun. In the spring of 2009 we went to Europe together and while we were in Santorini, Greece, on a hike between Oia and Fira over looking the view of the Mediterranean, we were inspired to begin something big together. Six months later we began our freshman year at The University of Western Ontario and during the course of our first semester we began working on little projects that eventually formed our first release in February of 2010. By the time our second semester rolled around we were both anxious to finish up the year and direct our full focus on The Dirty Tees for that summer. Once we finished “Where We Are,” came a month or so afterwards. We produced the video ourselves along with the help of our good friend and incredible filmmaker Michael Chiang of whom we did our video “The Speed Of Lights,” with.

What were you doing prior to TDT? Could you tell me a bit about each of you individually – how old are you, where’d you grow up, are you single/married, were you ever in jail for dealing crack, that kind of thing?

Grant: Haha not much was going on with me before! I was working to complete a Film Studies degree at The University of Western Ontario before I left school to pursue The Dirty Tees as a full time venture. Right now I’m 19 and I grew up in Oakville, Ontario just down the street from Ryan. I’ve been in a very successful relationship for the last two and a half years and we’re planning to get married in a couple of years once she finishes her degree.

Ryan: I am 6’ 2’’ – 175 lbs – 20 Years of age - Tall, dark & handsome. Haha – No seriously… Before The Dirty Tees, I was involved in multiple music projects. From playing percussion in a Pit Band, too performing at the head of church. Music is my passion, and it always has been. I feel so blessed to be able to live my dream and breath music day after day. In the love department - I am currently in a blossoming relationship with a very special girl... I have always lived my life to the best that I can to be able to make the people I love proud and I am constantly learning and open to new experiences. I am also very grateful for supportive friends, family and fans… We wouldn’t be where we are today without their support and love! So thank you!

Everything about The Dirty Tees seems done to perfection. From the music itself, to the short videos, to the music video, to the way everything’s taking off…there’s nothing amateur or so-so. Would you say you’re perfectionists? Do you have a huge team working with you? 

Honestly we do it all ourselves. Occasionally we’ll enlist the help of talented friend like Michael Chiang for a video or photographs, however, everything we do is homegrown. We definitely are perfectionists and we’ll spend months at a time on a song revisiting it again and again until it is perfect to our ears. We are firm believers that Rome wasn’t built in a day.


You were just over in the UK…What were you doing over there? Do you guys perceive any major differences between the Canadian music scene and industry and their equivalents in the USA and UK?

We were networking in the UK for the good part of the trip and we also got “Miracle,” mastered in EMI’s studios which was pretty cool! It was very rewarding because we began that song in London, Ontario during the fall of 2010 and then finished it up in London, England. It felt very good to get that song tied up. From what we noticed, the UK’s music scene is a lot more open to blending genres and pushing the envelope with unfamiliar sounds. However fads are formed just as quickly as they die, which makes it easy to break in to the market, but fall through the cracks in on fell swoop. What’s great about the North American scene is that different styles of music that catch on move like molasses, but when they catch on they really catch on and everyone wants more. Look at how popular Dubstep in North America has become recently.

I was on edge anticipating your new song called “Miracle” featuring the legendary/amazing Natasha Bedingfield. Why did you chose to go back to that particular song (the huge "Toca's Miracle"), which has already been remixed and released in different versions so many times, instead of doing something else?

When we visited L.A for the first time in January, we bounced a few instrumental productions off of Natasha and she really vibed with that particular one. Every time she heard it she kept humming the chorus of “Toca’s Miracle,” so we decided to sample the hook and write our own verses and make it an all-original production. We didn’t really think about the previous versions of the song and how many times it had been recycled in the past; we just kind of went with what sounded right. We figured that sampling a hook of a proven hit never hurts especially when promoting our production skills.

Are there plans for a music video for “Miracle” any time soon?

Nothing in the near future, but who knows!

How did you go from putting your own remixes out on the internet to doing an official remix for THE Natasha Bedingfield? And then from doing a remix for her to working with both her and her sister (Nikola Rachelle, aka TheGoldenPhoenix)? Tell me as much as you can about it all.

Well, Ryan’s family goes way back with Natasha’s husband’s family and we sent him “Where We Are,” last summer and they absolutely loved our work so they thought they’d give us a chance doing something for her. We remixed “Touch,” and they loved that so much that they invited us to come down to L.A for a week of work in January to see what we came up with. While we were down there, we wrote six songs in seven days and had the honor of collaborating on our first co-written song with Grammy Nominee Jonas Myrin. After that trip we were left to work on “Miracle,” and we got everything in order to make the move to L.A for good where Natasha and her husband Matt are currently helping us break in to the scene and provide us with established writers to assist that process. We met Nikola in May and showed her some of our music. She loved our work and we decided to write to one of our productions together.

In general, when listening to a song what makes you want to take it and remix it? What does it HAVE to have?

We’re not doing any remixes at the moment, nor have we since “Touch,” however when selecting a song for a remix it has to be by an artist that we both enjoy listening to and someone whose voice we won’t hate hearing hundreds of time over and over again!

The unholy marriage of rock and electro/house, when done well, is pretty darn awesome. What inspired you guys to pursue that path and where do you intend to go from there?   

We grew up listening to bands like U2, Nirvana, Pilot Speed, and Hillsong United, so alternative and rock music has always been a large aspect of our musical palette. As we mentioned before, we noticed dance music making its way in to the mainstream recently so we decided to explore combining it with the styles we’ve grown up with. Essentially, our goal for furthering our hybrid is to show that a guitar can act as a prominent element in dance music without sounding awkward or out of place.

What does TDT bring to the table that is new and different to what is already out there? Are you innovators or perfecters?

Often we are told that our music is a combination of everything that people look for in a dance song but with our own flavor added to the mix. We like to perfect and innovate, but most importantly we like to build on what people love in music such as structure, melody, and beat. We implement the structure of a pop or rock song, yet we have the beat and sounds of a dance song, but we bring that unique element of the guitar driving our music (as you will hear in our future work)

What are three things everyone needs to know about TDT?

Haha, umm… well that’s a tough question. Maybe just that we take our craft very seriously and that we avoid the stereotypical “live fast, die young,” lifestyle that many people in our industry exploit.

A song you wish you’d written?

Anything by Pilot Speed.

Any words of wisdom to close off the interview with? 

Every day counts; don’t let them pass you by!

Grant and Ryan, thank you so much! I look forward to your success and will be sure to continue reporting on your progress. 

Check out their official website Tumblr and follow them on Twitter @TheDirtyTees

"Like" them on Facebook and check out their music on Soundcloud

Check out the alternative edit of their debut music video below:

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