K808 and Khaledzou (a.k.a. Katianne Timko and Khaled Tabbara) are the LA-based pop-shattering pair dedicated to spreading the good vibes all across the dance floor. Known as MUNNYCAT, the indie duo create genre-defying yet instantly infectious music that exists somewhere between the intersection of old school hip-hop, new wave, bubblegum pop, disco and futuristic funk. But their commercial-friendly sound (literally! they’ve provided songs for dozens of promotional campaigns and TV commercials) isn’t the only thing that’s unique.
Their production utilizes some of the most unorthodox means of creating music we’ve ever heard of. On their latest single, the bombastic and bright “Check It,”Khaledzou crafted one of the song’s most contagious effects by singing “neener neener” into a string of guitar pedals, literally teasing the music to life. But “Check It” is so much more than its earworm sound — it’s an anthem against energy suckers everywhere.
Below, we catch up with the duo about their brand new tune.
The “synth” effect Khaledzou created by, according to your press release, “singing ‘neener neener neener’ into a chain of guitar pedals” is ridiculously creative. Are there any other weird or unorthodox ways in which you’ve produced music or effects?
K808: Oh man, Khaledzou is hiding in weird spots everywhere on all of our tracks. Most times we’ll come up with the idea for the beat and he’ll beatbox into the mic to help us find the drum placement a little easier. We almost always end up leaving it in even after the beats are programmed because it helps them feel more human.
Khaledzou: Another one we’re real proud of was on our song “Level Up (La Da Di).” We got a cheap little headband as a souvenir from Roswell that it had springs with alien heads on top and we literally threw it at the wall while we were recording. It ended up being a pretty prominent part of the beat. It was a trashy thing to do but we loved it.
You’ve had an incredible number of commercials and promos sync your music, including Fenty, which is crazy cool. Do you have a favorite ad that has featured a song of yours?
Khaledzou: Yes, it is crazy cool! FIFA 19 was really amazing because so many people love that game. There were tons of comments under the ad on YouTube where people were asking who the band was. The song wasn’t even released yet but somehow they found it online and uploaded a bootlegged version so we hurried up and released it the next day.
K808: Wendy’s and eBay were both really special because they were so far reaching and both aired at the same time. We’d have friends from all over the country telling us they heard our songs at like the hair salon or the bar — even in Hawaii! So those are two of my favorites for sure.
Are there any brands or companies you’re dying to use your music?
K808: Once you get an Apple commercial you get super noticed so that’s really high up on our list. We’re also dying to get our music used in the new Space Jam movie. DYING. We’re from Lebron James’ hometown!
Your new song, “Check It,” is about battling “energy vampires.” In real life, what do you do to cope with or protect yourself against people who drain your energy?
K808: We hold onto each other for dear life at parties!
Khaledzou: We’re really approachable IRL and wouldn’t change that for the world so we just try to have laser focus on people who recharge us and leave us feeling inspired. We aren’t that good at it yet, but we are really trying. You only have a finite amount of time and energy, so you gotta cherish that shit. You can really truly be there for the people you love when they need you.
I hear some colorful late ’80s, early ’90s freestyle and hip-hop vibes on “Check It.” What sort of musical influences did you pull from for the production?
K808: You nailed it! We worship Rick Rubin and a lot of the noisy layered production of the Bomb Squad and the Dust Brothers.
Khaledzou: We don’t have the luxury of clearing all those expensive, old school samples so we end up making our own. On this song, we wanted some soulful stax singers, so we sang them ourselves and destroyed them so they sounded like they were from an old ‘60s record.
K808: Also the Spice Girls are in EVERYTHING we do.
In your opinion, what makes a song hella catchy?
K808: We love it when you can sing along with the track! I like when every element of the track is its own hook.
Khaledzou: Sometimes making music that is fun and sounds effortless is really hard. A lot of our favorite songs sound effortless and you wanna sing along the very first time you hear it.
You two are in control of your music and visuals from top to bottom. What does it mean to you to be in command of your art at every level?
K808: It started out of DIY necessity because before we lived in LA, we were in Ohio and had no money to hire designers or videographers to help us. But it grew into something much more important to us. Now we feel like we’ve built this little world and this style and we have a clear vision.
Khaledzou: Yeah, we’re really thankful that we get to have a say in not only how MUNNYCAT sounds, but also the accompanying visuals that go with it. Honestly, at the end of the day we just truly enjoy making things and wouldn’t even know how to stop if we tried. (Cue up “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus.)
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