In midst of the “blog house” frenzy of the late 2000′s, Terravita’s Chris Barlow, Jon Spero and Matt Simmers shocked listeners with the birth of Hot Pink Delorean, the D’n'B group’s electro-pop alter-ego. The trio’s following exploded after receiving recognition from the popular blog DiscoDust. Having earned a spot on the USA’s Top 100 DJ’s list, they’ve toured the USA, Europe, Canada and Australia, and have remixed tracks for artists like Beyonce, Britney Spears, Designer Drugs and Bassnectar.
Since releasing several EPs that received glowing reviews and play time on BBC Radio 1, Kiss FM, XM and Sirius radio, Hot Pink Delorean’s unique fusion of high-energy beats and expressive synths has garnered the respect and support of artists such as Carl Cox, Benny Benassi, Digitalism and Tiësto.
We got to catch up with Hot Pink Delorean’s Chris Barlow and Jon Spero before a performance at Gainesville’s Spannk nightclub and hear their thoughts on performing, finding inspiration and making it in the music world.
You guys originally started out as Terravita. How did Hot Pink Delorean come about?
Chris: We backed up our release schedule because we were pretty much exclusive to a drum and bass label, and we were going to electro nights…that was in 2007, 2008…in the hey-day of blog-electro. So we made some of that, and it just kind of took off and Hot Pink Delorean took over. Then Terravita kind of swung back in and we started doing drumstep.
Do you miss pure drum and bass?
Jon: I miss the heyday of [it], when you’d go to a drum and bass party and there’d be a thousand people there. You could play a whole set of drum and bass and it was good. Nowadays you can get away with like two or three tunes maybe, but unless [the crowd] is there to see a specific drum and bass artist, it’s difficult. So yeah, I miss the old days, but I don’t necessarily know if either is better. It’s just different.
Chris: I feel like what’s happening now in bass music is a good evolution of what could’ve been if drum and bass didn’t stick to the 1-BPM and 1-beat spectrum, so it’s all kind of drumstep within the bass…it’s all kind of the same thing at the end of the day.
What is biggest difference between the sound of Terravita and the sound Hot Pink Delorean aims to produce?
Chris: Hot Pink Delorean is just anything 4/4 that’s just big, energetic…120 BPM. Terravita is bass music.
What’s the story behind the name?
Jon: Hot Pink Delorean was kind of a joke when we started it…we were like screwing around.
Chris: We were trying to think of something that was futuristic but retro. You take samples from the past to make futuristic music.
Do you guys adopt different personas depending on whom you’re performing as?
Jon: No, I think we attack everything from the same angle because for us, performances are very emotional. When we get into it, we just get into it. There’s no other way that I know how to do what I do. The mixing style is very similar with both.
What kind of feedback has Hot Pink Delorean gotten from new fans as well as fans who started listening to you guys as Terravita?
Jon: A huge misconception everybody has about us is that we [Hot Pink Delorean] are dubstep artists. We’ve hardly produced any dubstep, it’s all half-time drum and bass. It’s drum and bass speed, we do a little drumstep, but we’re not drumstep artists. People are always arguing about what genre we make.
Both Terravita and Hot Pink Delorean have earned support from internationally recognized artists. How did you go about promoting yourselves and your music?
Jon: It was a different climate when we were coming up. Back then, what we had to do to get our songs heard by the artists and the labels we wanted was to book shows. So we would pick our artists with that in mind. We just booked shows and brought people through and played them our songs until somebody signed us in Boston. That company was actually the first to gave us a shot, and it went up from there. After that, we built a good base and we started doing a lot of break-beat-oriented stuff…a lot of that had to do with blogs.
Chris: Yeah, we just kicked it [our music] off to all the blogs, and after that we were flying around the world doing shows. It was crazy, and now with social media and Facebook…the problem I feel these days with kids that are starting to produce and wanting to do this…it’s so saturated right now. I get maybe 600 to 800 promos a day. DJs now are more of a superstar thing. Back in the day even the biggest artists were more accessible. Now you’re going through layers of management and agencies.
Do you prefer producing or DJing?
Chris: They go hand in hand—you can’t prefer one to the other. There’s nothing better than making a song and then going on and playing it. DJing is the direct relation to the crowd and seeing how they react to the song you play. Making a song…you’re making the song because you want to see how the crowd reacts to it, and if you’re not playing it to the crowd, you’re not seeing the reaction—you don’t know if it sucks or not.
Jon: A lot of artists say they make music for themselves—we don’t. We make music for everybody else, and there’s not a more gratifying feeling than seeing people respond to it. It’s not about us, it’s about the people listening to the music…it’s about the fans.
Chris: You want to play stuff that you like and that you feel good about playing, but you still want to do something that the crowd wants to hear. It’s a perfect compromise.
Where you find inspiration for your music?
Jon: I find most of my inspiration for stuff when I ride the subway. It’s a place filled with people and nobody knows each other. Everyone has a different story. I’ll see a guy across the way that looks like he’s having a bad day, and I’ll find myself wondering what’s going on his head right now. It’s just a group of people with different stories.
Chris: For the beats, we’ll hear something that we love and that the crowd reacts to from artists we respect. And we’ll see what they do and try to make it our own.