Today, we have a real story—not an “upcoming single” blurb. Stay tuned for the twist at the end.
There comes a point in the run-up to fulfilling any goal in life when the spinning coin falls flat on one side or the other; it’s either roses or crossbones. You’re going to make it happen… or it’s time to take that job at Burger King.
The bass-heavy, trap-tending duo of Nightowls were, until recently, a pair poised on that very brink of “finding out.” They had worked their way though the ranks, made some mistakes, had some victories, and were about to discover what was behind the curtain of their future… when something remarkable happened.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To understand the beauty of the ultimate twist, you, my dear reader, must understand the backstory—the backbeat, if you will. Their tale is intriguing, to say the least, and Insomniac is involved—in a very important way.
“As Two Owls, we see ourselves as a more mature version of our previous selves, and it will show in our music moving forward.”
L.A. native Andrew Sierra and Southern transplant Scotty Dro were each one-half of Nightowls, although the journey to find one another was not a short one. In 2007, Scotty was gifted a pair of turntables from his sister’s then-boyfriend who was, at least for a time, a hip-hop DJ.
“I was playing the Beatles,” recalls Scotty. “I had the most obscure vinyl, and I got myself a CDJ player. It was more like making a playlist than mixing. That’s pretty much how I started.”
In 2009, Scotty downloaded Ableton. From that point, he’s been wizarding it “about 16 hours a day.” When Icon Collective, the vaunted L.A.-based music production school (alumni: Jauz, SNBRN, APEK, Kayzo) accepted his application, he had no qualms about ditching his law school job. His roommate upon hitting the West Coast? Heard of trap man Lookas? Yep. Real Life: 0. Dream Life: 1.
To take Andrew down to his root, one finds a lifelong drummer and guitarist who left his union dairy job to pursue the dream of making his living through music. And so, the Inland Empire–raised native left La Verne, at least for a while, and ventured forth on the hero’s journey. Real Life: 0. Dream Life: 2.
You can’t make this stuff up, folks. And it gets better. The two met through… blogging. About what? Guess. They came together in 2014 when they discovered they were simultaneously working on projects under the title Owls.
“Andrew had gotten a tattoo of an owl on his hand when he was 15, and I’ve had a lifelong fascination with them as well,” Scotty explains. He had already seen the lightning bolt of success hit those around him at school: “Something happens in your brain when you see someone else make it happen for themselves—like Jauz at Icon. I’d see him there, and it all seemed… possible.”
Today in EDM, for new artists on the come-up, there’s a lot of grunt work to be done: hardware to be mastered, software to be learned. And it’s a merry-go-round as far as what’s “now.” Reason. Serum. Acid. Reaper. Ableton. Cubase. Bitwig. Presonus. Fruity Loops. Shit shifts fast. The perception of who is the main artist on a track and who is the remixer can change day-to-day, relative to which way the wind blows through Beatport.
But there is a line when contenders become players—a line that, when crossed, makes observers say, “Yeah, they’ve made it.” The clouds fall away, and you’re legit. Nightowls were poised on this very edge when the twist happened upon them in the form of an email from… Insomniac.
As you may or may not know, the Night Owl symbol has been synonymous with Insomniac events for years. The Night Owl Radio show, hosted by Pasquale Rotella, is coming up on its 89th podcast. So, you see the problem? Confusion. That’s the problem. Listener confusion. Brand confusion. As the popularity of Nightowls (the duo) grew, so did the concern on both sides that it might spin fans into assuming they are associated or, worse, one and the same.
So. After all of their struggle, after moving across the country, quitting jobs, living in cramped huts and living on berries and insects (author exaggeration), were they just going to find their sought-after altar burned down in front of them? Would they go to court and battle it out? Win, lose or draw, both sides would come out worse for wear—and pissed. Not a good way to be in the world of dance music. No, perhaps there was another way. At this point, the lads drew back and pondered. What would be wise? How can we survive and prosper from this? What would garner both goodwill and buzz?
“It’s gotten to the point that everyone is using the same tools and techniques to make EDM. So, branding becomes more and more important,” Scotty points out. “To be able to relaunch without losing our fan base, to look back and see any mistakes and start fresh—it’s a total gift.”
Andrew rides the same rail: “I see it as a clean slate, to do things the right way from day one. Our sound has massively improved. As Two Owls, we see ourselves as a more mature version of our previous selves, and it will show in our music moving forward.”
Andrew and Scotty chose to embrace this as an opportunity, running up from involvement on singles like “33,” “We in Here,” “SUS,” and “Nap in the Club.” Two Owls emerge from a magical chrysalis between “Blacked Out” and their freshly dropped remix of Mt. Eden’s iconic dubstep-smasher “Sierra Leone.” The word-of-mouth alone generated from the move is its own reward, garnering them more airplay and traction than would have come from playing free shows for a year at Avalon. For sure.
That, dear reader, is how winners win.
And so, Two Owls fly off into the night—into their future. Night or day, it’s sure to roll heavy and sweet. Stay tuned, true believer, stay tuned.