DJ/Producer Duo from New York City.
Hometown: Largo, FL (Ryan) / Westchester, NY (Ian)
Currently living: Manhattan, NY (both)
Origin of name: We wanted to choose a name that had some duality to it, as we have different backgrounds and different approaches to creating music.
Weapon of choice: Ableton Live, Grubhub.
Source of power: Memes, yakamein soup, terry crews.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about entering the Discovery Project competition?
Ryan: Don’t give up. We’ve submitted music in the past, and when we look back, there was a good reason why we didn’t win (track was boring, wasn’t mixed well, etc.). Learn to be ultra critical of your music, like how an outsider would. Focus on the music and not the genre. Ask for feedback from your peers.
Ian: The dance music scene has progressed to a point where being different is good. I think that the best thing you can do is try to develop your own style and bring that to the competition. Insomniac has chosen artists across a huge variety of genres; strive to be unique and different!
Ian: I grew up in a very musical household and was exposed to a huge variety of music at a young age. In a lot of ways, I think this enabled me to find inspiration in many places. One rule my parents gave me was that I HAD to play an instrument from preschool until I graduated high school. It wasn’t until college, when I started producing and DJing, that I discovered all of my various musical interests could be combined into one passion. Music is my outlet, and I can’t think of anything I enjoy more than seeing people vibe to our creations.
Ryan: I started writing music when I was 15, way before I had any interest in dance music. When I moved to New York in 2009, dance music became a huge interest, and that’s when I started thinking about doing something like what we’re doing as Truth x Lies now. I just love making music, sharing it with everyone, and inspiring others in any way possible.
Both: We started Truth x Lies back in fall 2014, and we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. We both had musical backgrounds, but it was a long learning process to get where we are. For the first two years, we just told ourselves to keep making music until we found our “sound.” We listened to a lot of music and spent hours and hours in the studio practicing and discussing techniques.
Are there any dots to connect where/how you grew up to your musical output?
Ryan: I got to experience Hurricane Katrina firsthand in college, and seeing the people in New Orleans come together around music was super inspiring. My mom was very supportive [and encouraged] me to do music, which I’m very appreciative of, because I wouldn’t be who I am today without music.
Ian: As a kid, music was mostly a hobby for me. I remember having a moment maybe six months after I began DJing, where I was standing outside the party after my first “big” show and realizing that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. After that, I dove into the DJ culture in NYC and eventually picked up producing. Studying at Icon Collective was an incredible learning experience for me, as well; that place is really doing amazing things.
How, if at all, does listening to music figure into your creative process? What’s the last song you heard that made you drop what you were doing and go into the studio?
Ryan: We always send each other cool tracks we find on Spotify or SoundCloud throughout the day. We also both DJed a ton before we met, so we are used to digging for tracks. Hearing Zhu’s GenerationWhy was really inspiring when it came out.
Ian: Ryan and I are definitely very inspired by the music we hear and listen to on a daily basis. We spend a lot of time sharing and analyzing music, and you can definitely hear our varied inspirations reflected in our tunes.
What should everyone just shut the fuck up about?
Both: Saying “EDM is dead/dying.” It’s time to stop thinking about it as EDM and just as MUSIC. When something is labeled, oftentimes a stigma is attached to it. This is why artists like Zhu, the Chainsmokers, Diplo and Skrillex have such staying power; they are constantly pushing the envelope. This is why we believe so fervently that creating your own niche in the scene is so important. Let’s not forget that these guys are winning Grammys.
What do you remember about your first DJ gig?
Ryan: I used to be a resident DJ at this really terrible bar in Harlem when I was in grad school. It had blown speakers, people were spilling beer all over the place; it was the exact definition of reckless. At the time, I was DJing with some friends, and my friend Alex Seaver (from Mako) was bartending. I’m glad we graduated to bigger and better things, but looking back, it was the place that got me thinking about writing electronic music.
Ian: My first show was at a fraternity party in upstate New York, circa 2010. I remember vividly realizing how much influence over the crowd and the vibe of the party you have as a DJ. It made me realize that our job as artists is to create an experience for the night that people will remember.
What’s the hardest professional lesson you’ve learned thus far? How did it make your life easier—or more difficult?
Ian: I wouldn’t say hardest, but I think the most valuable lesson we’ve learned so far is that creating personal relationships is all-important in this scene. Instead of seeing people as an opportunity for advancement, try to view meeting people as a possibility to make new friends and create something special together. Also, WEAR EARPLUGS.
Ryan: I wouldn’t say this is a hard lesson, but having a positive attitude and thick skin goes a long way. I used to find myself getting burned out because I cared too much about things that don’t really matter. Once I started focusing on the music and really just enjoying the process, everything started to shift in a positive way.