Cash Cash :: The Jersey Boys of EDM
New Jersey is no stranger the music business when it comes to producing some of the biggest stars in the music industry; Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Count Basie, Jay-Z, and of course, the original Jersey Boys Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, to name a few.
With the major ascension of electronic dance music (EDM) in the past 10 years, it isn’t surprising that New Jersey would be the birth home of some EDM superstars. That’s right! Meet the Jersey Boys of EDM, Cash Cash consisting of brothers Jean Paul (JP) and Alex Makhlouf and best friend Sam Friseh, who are all now based out of New York.
As with most musical groups, Cash Cash went through some changes before things started to take off for the group. Formed in 2002 as a rock band playing under the name The Consequences, the band had three independent releases and an additional member, drummer Anthony Villacari, in the beginning.
It wasn’t until 2008 when they changed their sound, their name and group roster to become a trio that Cash Cash started their flight toward the top of Mt. EDM. "Listening to Cash Cash is like popping open a bottle of pure unfiltered fun," wrote Ben Herbert of The Marketing Machine. It’s that electrifying sound that got other artists to take notice of the group and get them to remix or produce their tracks. In addition to 5 EP or full music collections of their own, Cash Cash has remixed or produced for Cobra Starship ("Good Girls Go Bad" remix), Calvin Harris ("Let’s Go" remix), Katy Perry ("Part of Me" remix), Lady Gaga ( "Marry the Night" remix), Bruno Mars ("Treasure" remix - #1 Hype Machine Chart), and EDM star groups Krewella ("Alive" remix and "Live for the Night" production) and Icona Pop ("All Night" remix - #1 Hype Machine Chart).
On the heels of successfully producing and co-writing the Krewella’s "Live for the Night" from the #1 Billboard Dance/Electronic Album Chart collection "Get Wet," Cash Cash signed with electronic music label giant Atlantic/Big Beat Records and immediately started work on their current hit "Take Me Home" featuring Bebe Rexha (formerly of Black Card). Since it’s July 16, 2013 worldwide release, "Take Me Home" has hit the top spot on Billboard’s Dance Radio Chart. With the lead single from their 6-track EP "OVERTIME" earning them a massive amount of new fans, Cash Cash embarked on a national tour the second half of 2013 causing the trio to become masters at multitasking performance, songwriting, producing and remixing duties.
While catching a little break between all that Cash Cash does, JP chatted with me about the success of "Take Me Home," living out the dream of making music, the group’s shared workload, performing with Krewella, and their new music with Christine Perri.
BeBe: With the success of your club hit "Take Me Home" you have now been taken from being just remixers to a full-fledged EDM recording act on Big Beat Records. Was that always the development plan for you guys?
JP: Definitely. Doing music full time was always a dream of ours. Remixing has always been an important side of the group. It helps step up our game in a weird way. We’ve been producing, recording, mixing, & mastering all our own music since we started. The cool thing is over the last few years DJing has become an outlet for electronic producers to be heard, making the line between producer and artist very thin. With the right work ethic, you can easily be both.
It also helps that we are a trio. A lot of times two of us will fly out for shows while the third stays back in the studio working on a song or remix. We rotate a bunch to keep it fair (an evil laugh). It’s great because we get double the work done and neither the show or studio is negatively affected. For example, last week Sam and I did a string of shows while Alex stayed in the studio to finish up this new remix we’re doing for Hardwell (the #1 DJ atop of DJ Magazine’s Top 100 DJs poll). We are lucky to be a trio and can split up when we need to. Last month Sam and Alex did a string of West Coast shows while I stayed in LA to write with Christina Perri and some other writers. We rotate who goes depending on what needs to be done in the studio. We also do a lot of work on the road with our laptops but always need to finalize everything in a real studio.
BeBe: Your new "OVERTIME" EP contains songs, including "Take Me Home" which features Bebe Rexha, and songs that feature other guest vocalists. How are these songs introduced/performed on tour?
JP: We work them into our set like we would any other song. Sometimes if Bebe is around we’ll have her come out and perform it, but the beauty behind EDM is that people are coming out to see the group not the feature. It’s about the experience, the bass, the lights and the show versus the singer/performer. If people wanted to see someone sing/perform they would go to a pop concert. We’re here to blow your fucking ears out and start a dance riot.
BeBe: I assume that the EP is just a prelude to a planned full-length album to come? Are you working on a full-length, and are there any guest artist details you can disclose?
JP: We’ve already started working on so much new music that we can’t wait to finish up. We’ll definitely do a full album at some point but we’re not sure of any exact release plans yet. Maybe we’ll do a single between the next release which could be an EP, full-length, or some kind of remix EP. We started this amazing song featuring Christina Perri this month that we’re all really stoked on! Definitely one of my favorite new songs we’ve started working on. We also have a ton of other cool features lined up as well. It’s going to be a fun year.
Halloween with Krewella
BeBe: Which vocalists are out there that you would kill to work with on a track?
JP: It would be awesome to work with fellow label mates Icona Pop or guys like John Martin (’Don’t You Worry Child’ with Swedish House Mafia) and Matthew Koma (’Spectrum’ with Zedd, and Years with Alessio). Koma’s voice is like no other. He has such a unique timbre and range that make his voice cut through like a knife! I also love the emotion from John Martin. There are so many amazing talented artists out there that it’s hard to get specific. Florence (Welch) and Sia are another two that give me goose bumps every time I hear their voices.
BeBe: You spent Halloween night last year opening for Krewella at Pier 94 in New York. They have taken the EDM world by storm over the past 2 years, so what was it like to be a part of this show with them?
JP: Last Halloween was amazing! Krewella are good friends of ours. We felt privileged to share the stage with them. We first linked up with them last year when remixing "Alive." The remix did so well in the community that they were like, ’hey, we should do an actual song together!’ So when they were in NYC we got together and hit it off really well which led us to produce and co-write "Live for The Night" with them. We definitely hope to collaborate more with them in 2014.
Rocks, paper, scissors
BeBe: How do the three of you divvy up the creative duties when it comes to writing your original material?
JP: Rocks, paper, scissors (laughs). We vote on things a lot. If we’re torn with a certain creative decision, we usually go by majority rules and ¾ of the time the odd person out will agree with the other two after sitting with it for a bit. We work really well together. There are times when Alex and I are like the Oasis brothers, but Sam is always there to neutralize the situation. We all shine in certain areas so it really all depends on the song or remix. Overall we’re lucky to always have someone around to bounce ideas off especially when one of us is going crazy over something.
BeBe: Your North American Tour has come to a close as we enter 2014, so now what are looking forward to?
JP: We are in the middle of solidifying a Las Vegas residency so we’ll definitely be out there a ton along with lots of other shows here and overseas. You can expect a lot of new music and remixes as well. We’re going even harder in 2014!
BeBe: Big Beat Records has such an impressive roster of electronic and dance music acts, do you worry about getting lost in the shuffle on your projects?
JP: Straight up, Big Beat Records is the best fucking label on the planet! We’ve been through majors and indies in the past and have never been happier on a label. They are a team of people that truly love what they do and it shows with their success. Not a day goes by that we ever feel lost or pushed aside. We’re treated like priority from the ground up on a daily basis. Sometimes at 11 o’clock at night I’ll hear from our A&R to talk about a mix change or remix. There’s no clocking out at Big Beat, there’s no 9 to 5 with them. It’s 24/7 balls to the wall!
BeBe: Dance and electronic music have a big place in the LGBT community’s nightlife. Have you had any thoughts as to why your style of music is so appealing to our specific community?
JP: I mean it’s a fact... gay people know how to start a party! All my gay/lesbian friends dance like motherfuckers and keep up with the hottest music. I think it has to do with letting go and EDM music is all about letting go, being different, forgetting the bullshit of the world, and just feeling the moment. I think feeling the bass run through your body and shake up your soul helps you do that. It makes you feel alive! We still live in a world that makes it hard for LGBT people to feel accepted and maybe Dance music can be another tool to help change that, or at least numb it for the night. I’m straight but can still somewhat relate to feeling boxed in or different. I felt that way all throughout school until I found success with music. It helped me fully let go, shut out the negativity that surrounded me, and find confidence in my passion.
Cash Cash’s current EP ’OVERTIME’ on Big Beat Records is available on iTunes.
Cash Cash on Tour:
1/23 Vancouver, BC (DJ Set) @ LED Bar
1/24 Seattle, WA (DJ Set) @ Foundation Night Club
1/25 San Francisco, CA (DJ Set) @ Ruby Skye
1/30 Bloomington, IN (DJ Set) @ Dunnkirk
1/31 Cleveland, OH (DJ Set) @ Liquid
Official Music Video - "Take Me Home" - Cash Cash featuring Bebe Rexha
Watch the video of Cash Cash’s "Take Me Home":