CASH CASH

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photos / Santiago Felipe
interview / Robert Frezza

EDM trio Cash Cash started out as a local rock act from Jersey, but as the boys grew and evolved, they began to encapsulate the mainstream with their infectious dance music. The group—comprised of brothers Jean Paul and Alex Makhlouf and friend Samuel Frisch—are in a league of their own, but are quickly gaining traction to become one of the big-time EDM acts (think Calvin Harris, Diplo, or Skrillex). Their production value is breathtaking—take one listen to “Devil” and trust me, you’ll be hooked.
The all-male trio reached a milestone last year as they headlined their first tour in 2015: “We learn something new every night on tour,” says Jean Paul. Busy readying their first full-length album due out this year, they have some unforgettable collaborations in store with some incredible talents, sharing that in 2016 there will be “a lot of new music for sure; a couple new singles… and then we’ll roll out the album.” We spoke to Jean Paul about the touring process, the origins of Cash Cash, and working side by side with some of the hottest artists in the music industry today.
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Is it true you started off as a local garage rock band?
We ended up playing in different bands throughout elementary school and junior high. Sam and I started producing in junior high and doing remixes with other artists. We started incorporating that into our own music and that started to influence our own style. It’s been a very slow evolution. It was very gradual and it all made sense. We never drastically shifted to one thing. We always had keyboards, synthesizers, and electronic production.
So the transition from a rock band to an EDM group was an easy one?
It was easy because we produced all our own music. It’s not like we had to learn anything new. We had that ground basis with producing music already.
How did you get signed to Atlantic Records?
We hooked up with Atlantic with a song called “Overtime” by promoting it online. We were transitioning between labels and we were unsigned. It was a low point for us at that time. Then we decided to release “Overtime” for free and it was well received on Hype Machine and many blogs. It caught the attention from some people at Atlantic and it was a snowball effect from there.
Do you think EDM has peaked? What’s next for the genre?
I think it’s changing everyday. Look at how other styles of music has changed. EDM is based on producers, so there are so many different sounds, beats, grooves, and rhythms. There are no limitations. You can see it in Diplo and Skrillex’s music. There are all these awesome collaborations and the music community is supportive of it.
Who do you look up to in EDM right now?
Diplo and Skrillex are a great combination right now. DJ Snake is another one. I think he is truly a great engineer.
What is the best thing about touring?
[Headline] touring is great because we play consecutive shows. It’s night after night of shows. You improve on some things quicker that you are not improving on a daily basis. Sharing the stage with other artists, such as Tritonal, and feeding off each other is great. We learn a lot from other artists as well.
What’s the Cash Cash live show like?
We do a lot of triggering and live mash ups of different songs. We do a lot of our own edits and try to keep it as a fresh as possible.
How did the collaboration for “Devil” come about? Did Busta Ryhmes, B.o.B., and Neon Hitch email you their parts?
We work with most of the artists in our basement studio. We like to work with the artists and write songs with them. It’s very collaborative and in touch with the musical side of things. As far as certain features go, the Busta Rhymes and B.o.B. parts were done over the phone.
“Surrender” was your most provocative video thus far. Any future plans for more risqué videos?
That was a cool video, but we tried to keep a message behind it. That’s what great about the video—you have people think different ideas of what the video is about. The whole concept behind it is surrendering and kind of giving in. We worked very collaboratively with the director. Surrendering is always kind of seen as a bad thing, but we thought it could be a beautiful thing—such as surrendering to love.
Cash Cash has covered a lot career-wise. What is your biggest accomplishment and who else do you want to work with?
We have been doing some awesome collaborations for the new album including [working with] Fitz and the Tantrums and Christina Perri. As far as our biggest accomplishment—from hearing our song on the radio to hearing the crowds sing back to us at a concert—that’s what gives us goosebumps every time. There’s no other feeling than hearing your song on the radio. It’s like they are finally listening to us.

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