Trevor Dahl, Kevin Ford, and Matthew Russell joined creative forces to form Cheat Codes in 2014 as a result of mutual frustration. All three members previously found success in other genres but felt that the paths they could take led only to a finite number of destinations. Their past pursuits no longer fully resonated with them, but together they found new hope in the diversity of electronic music and its ability to cross-pollinate between genres. Knowing they no longer had to pigeonhole themselves allowed them the freedom to create a string of hugely successful records—beginning with their debut release, “Visions,” which quickly hit #1 on Hype Machine and grabbed 15 million views on YouTube.
The trio strive to stay present in their daily lives and continue to push their creativity to new heights. In the two years since the group’s inception, their genre-blending style has racked up tens of millions of plays with tunes ranging from moombahton and progressive house to future bass and electropop. The barriers between genres cease to exist in their eyes, and it’s clear that the trio has cracked the code to success in the industry.
Ahead of their set at Crush 2017 on February 11 in Dallas, TX, we had a chat with Cheat Codes about their recent signing to 300 Entertainment, how they celebrate Valentine’s Day, and when they fell in love with dance music. We also snagged this sweet mix that appropriately displays their love for all things electronic.
Spotify named you one of the top 25 most influential artists under 25. Do you see yourself as cultural influencers?
Our biggest motivation is to inspire other people, and to show that you can do anything you want in life and have fun doing it. As far as the music goes, we just do what comes natural. We never set out to be “Cultural Influencers,” but I think the more authentic you are, the more impact you’ll have on the world.
You’ve all had previous experiences in other bands. What have you learned from those experiences that you’ve been able to carry over into your success with Cheat Codes?
We learned everything not to do, basically—one of those lessons being DON’T TAKE ANYTHING TOO SERIOUSLY. The whole point of making music your job is to have fun, so when it gets too serious and starts feeling like a stressful grind, something’s wrong. We’re just having a blast every day, so we don’t get tired of working constantly. It keeps the stamina up!
Our previous projects really taught us to be self-reliant and to never wait on other people—whether it’s a label, a manager, etc. Do the most you can with the resources you have. If you make that your mantra and repeat it every day, you’ll become aware of the abundance of resources at your disposal.
You recently signed to 300 Entertainment, but you guys are a bit different from their other artists. What do you hope the partnership will accomplish, and is it going to change the way you work?
The biggest reason we signed with 300 is because they let us operate our business exactly how we want to. We weren’t too fond of signing into a major label system and putting out music the same way as everyone else. We like flexibility and the ability to take risks, and 300 gives us that! As far as 300’s current roster, we hope to do some urban-leaning dance records in the future. Watch out!
You guys will be playing at Crush. Do you have any Valentine’s Day stories to share?
Matt’s birthday is the day before Valentine’s Day, so we usually get way too drunk celebrating it and forget to give our girlfriends anything… Trevor’s single, though, so hit him up for dates!
Can you talk to us about when you first fell in love with dance music?
We’ve always listened to every genre, but we remember first seeing footage of Tomorrowland—that’s when it really clicked for us. The best thing about dance music is the total experience and the connection with the crowd. We love being able to play different genres in our set, and I think this is one of the few genres that really encourages that. We really feel free to collaborate however we want and perform however we want.
- Cheat Codes Mix Tracklist:
Cheat Codes “Adventure”
Cheat Codes “Queen Elizabeth “(Dante Klein Remix)
Cheat Codes “Turn Me On”
Cheat Codes “Visions” (Boehm Remix)
Fox Stevenson & Curbi “Hoohah”
Cheat Codes “SEX” (Lush and Simon Remix)
Calvin Harris “This is What You Came For”
Mike Williams “Groovy George”
Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris “Hype”
Moguai & Cheat Codes “Hold On”
Test & Tony Junior “Get Down”
Sonic One “Punk!” (Two Loud Remix)
Quintino “Bad B#tches”
Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
DJ Snake “Let Me Love You”
Robin Schulz & David Guetta & Cheat Codes “Shed a Light”
The Chainsmokers “Closer” (Kahikko and Jespr Remix)
Cheat Codes “Follow You”
Cheat Codes & Rannix “Say Goodbye”