Interview: Cheat Codes

From the interview archives.

DJ trio Cheat Codes is a collaborative effort by Trevor Dahl, Kevin Ford, and Matthew Russell based out of LA. Their debut single Visions was released in 2015 and it quickly shot to the top of the charts, as did the singles that followed. Since then, Cheat Codes have released a number of singles, collaborated with artists like Demi Lovato and Fetty Wap and toured with The Chainsmokers. VULKAN caught up with Cheat Codes to get a sense of how they got together and how their unique dynamic sets them apart from other artists.

How did you three link up to start Cheat Codes?
Trevor and Matt met in St. Louis years ago while playing a show together. Matt and I (Kevi) met in LA – at that time Trevor had just relocated back to LA from Portland and was living with Matt we decided to make a few bangers and the rest is history. 

What would you say is the one unique thing each of you bring to the project?
The unique thing about us is that we can do it all; we produce, we write, we sing, and we party.  Life moves fast and we want to accomplish everything we can while we are on this planet.

I’m curious about the process you guys use when you collaborate with other artists, like you did with Fetty Wap for Feels Great. What role did you each play in the making of the song? Did Fetty come with some ideas and you all brainstormed and worked off of that or did you show him some baseline productions and then expand on them?
For us, when we collaborate, sometimes we think of the person that would be perfect for it while we’re writing the track then and there. Other times we’ll think of the perfect collaboration for the song over a vodka red bull while pregaming for a show. For ‘Feels Great’ we had the song pretty much done when we sent it over to our boy Fetty. He vibed with it and sent it back with an added verse.

What’s the vibe in the studio when you guys are producing a new track, and how do you set the mood?
The vibe is always good you know? We don’t mess with bad vibes. We usually set the mood by sparking the trippy stock and just let the creative good vibes flow from there.

Do any of you have any ritualistic quirks as a part of your creative process?
Yeah, whenever we’re in the studio, one habit we have is to always make something and create something that we love that we vibe to.

What’s one studio or environment that you haven’t had a chance to record in yet that you’d love the opportunity to?
Well, we haven’t really recorded in any studios actually because everything we’ve made was made in our bedroom but if we could make a record anywhere it’d be nice to make it out in Mykonos.

What are some of your go-to pieces of gear right now? Are they any new releases you’re looking forward to, either analogue or digital?
Our go to pieces right now – I guess are Ableton for DAW, Serum, Sylenth, anything native instruments is always chill. We don’t really keep up with what’s new and out because we’re always traveling, but if there’s something we ever stumble upon we dig, we just add it to the arsenal.

How long would you estimate you spend on the mixing stage of arranging and who would you say is the most picky about the finished product?
Mixing time really varies – it’s normally 1-3 days. It depends on how were feeling at the time. And most picky would prob be Trev. He’s got the ear of a god.

Do you have any other collaborations in the works coming up, and if not, is there someone you have your sights set on asking?
We have a got a bunch of collabs were brewing up. One big one we’d love to do would, would be have to be Drake though. We have mad respect for him and we’d make a banger together, I think.

How do you get hyped up before a big performance and what do you like to have on hand for showtime?
We usually get hyped by talking about future goals over don Julio 1942 on the rocks 15 minutes before we head to stage.

Can you sum up what music means to you in one sentence?
Music is everything to us. I once heard from a wiseman that ‘Without music life is a journey through the desert.’

What’s one album that you can’t stop listening to right now?
One album we can’t stop vibing with has to be ‘Stoney’ by Post Malone. That album is a work of art. Post is a genius.

Is there any one city in particular that you’d like to perform in in 2018?
One city we’d love to perform in? It would have to be any city in Asia really. We hear it’s beautiful out there and we haven’t been there yet.

What are your biggest career ambitions at this time?
Our career ambitions are to just be constantly getting better at what we do. We wanna live in the studio, get a bunch of music ready, and prepare a cohesive piece of art for the fans. Much love for 2018 – may it bless us all.

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