Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson known professionally as the music duo The Knocks have released their followup to their 2016 debut album ’55’, with a six track EP titled ‘Testify’ which was released on February 3rd. The duo have also set out on a tour to help promote the EP and chatted with us about ‘Testify’ an the tour.
Tell us about Testify?
James “JPatt” Patterson: We’re currently trying to go for more of a gospel influence, sort of combined with like a down tempo kind of future based beats type stuff. That’s been kind of big lately, and also sort of like the Ragga vibe, Reggaton ish Carribean feel. We’ve always been the type to fuse genres. So we were just going for that, it is a little bit darker than we usually do.
How has your musical direction changed between 55 and Testify?
Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner: I’d say we’re always trying to keep things different and kind of keep things progressing when it comes to us being producers. I think with Testify we kind of looked at it as this one off EP thing where we can kind of get away with doing whatever we want. It’s not an album and with EP’s it’s fun because you can kind of experiment and put out this one body of work that works together and move on and put something else out later that’s totally different. Evolution wise the production has gotten stronger. We’re starting to freshen up our chops a little more on this EP. It’s a little bit darker a little bit more moody. It’s definitely a change, but we’re always trying to progress, we’re just never trying to stay in the same sound forever.
How was it different this time working with Sam Nelson Harris on “Heat” compared to when you guys worked with him on “Comfortable”?
Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner: It was actually kind of a similar situation. We’ve just known Sam forever and he’s one of our old friends from New York. So when we made “Comfortable” it was a similar situation where we had a beat that we really liked and we knew we wanted something special on it, and we actually sent it and he said he actually wrote it while he was driving his car to Brooklyn, just like wrote it really quick really loved it. We got the chance to actually record it in person. But since then X Ambassadors his band has become very successful and we’ve gotten more successful and we barely see each other because we’re both on the road so often and it’s hard to catch each other. But this is the same situation where we had a beat that we thought was really special and we actually sent it to a few people and hadn’t really gotten anything yet that we loved that we thought was the one and then when we sent it to Sam, he wrote it super quick and it just was great. He actually recorded the whole vocal in a hotel room while he was on the road all those vocals and everything. So it’s definitely a different experience in that sense, but it was also very similar in the sense that when we knew we were on to something special we could call on him. It’s the same thing with the song “Worship” the MNEK song Sam co-wrote that and wrote the chorus and pre-chorus on that it’s a similar situation where we had a beat that we really liked. Every time we send it to Sam we get something amazing.
How did the songs “Trouble” and “Lie” come about, and how did you come to collaborate with Absofacto & Jerm?
Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner: “Trouble” actually happened because someone at our publishing company had recommended Absofacto. He was in New York for a very small period of time he had a few hours before he had to catch a flight, so he came to the studio and we recorded this little ballad thing and that’s what turned into “Trouble.” It started off as a slow song and after voice all set up in the final we made it into a dance record. “Lie” was actually a session in LA that we were at, it was me and a homie and we worked with this dude Jerm, he’s a songwriter he’s written for Beyoncé and stuff and we didn’t know what we were gonna be working on that day we just kind of just made the song, and that one also started off there were no drums in the original version it was kind of a broken down almost ballad kind of thing. After sitting on it for a while we decided to make the drop and make it kind of have the big moment at the end and that’s the moment where we decided we wanted to use it.
Now you bringing Mark Johns, Skylar Spence, Lophile, Giligan Moss & Bipolar Sunshine on tour with you, what made you decide to bring them along with you guys?
Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner: We’ve always been fans of Skylar Spence we think he’s from New York and we like the stuff he’s doing. Mark Johns is a friend of ours that we’ve known (not for very long) but I worked with her once. Bipolar we just recently worked with but always a fan. We were trying to bring out people that are a little different than us, and we want new and exciting artist that people are gonna want to see besides just us.
What else can we expect from you guys musically?
James “JPatt” Patterson: We’re just at a point right now where we’re just finishing up getting our new live show together so we’re going on tour maybe we’ll write some stuff on the road. But we have some festivals this summer we’re playing. I think for the time being we’re kind of focusing on the performance aspect, and we’ll get back in the studio obviously and see what happens.
1) Worship (feat. MNEK)
2) Heat (feat. Sam Nelson Harris)
3) Trouble (feat. Absofacto)
4) Feel Love (feat. Delacey)
5) Your Eyes (feat. Tayla Parx)
6) Lie (feat. Jerm)
THE KNOCKS 2017 “FEEL GOOD FEEL GREAT” TOUR:
WED 08-Feb-17 San Luis Obispo, CA – The Graduate*
THU 09-Feb-17 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore**
SAT 11-Feb-17 Los Angeles, CA – Henry Fonda Theatre**
SUN 12-Feb-17 Santa Barbara, CA – SoHo Music Club*
MON 13-Feb-17 Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst*
THU 02-Mar-17 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club***
SAT 04-Mar-17 Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry @ The Fillmore Philadelphia** *
FRI 10-Mar-17 Urbana, IL – Canopy Club***
SAT 11-Mar-17 Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall***
TUE 14-Mar-17 Lansing, MI – The Loft***
THU 16-Mar-17 Detroit, MI – Shelter***
FRI 17-Mar-17 Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground***
SAT 18-Mar-17 Montreal, QC – Belmont ***
TUE 21-Mar-17 Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall***
WED 22-Mar-17 Syracuse, NY – Westcott Theater***
THU 23-Mar-17 Boston, MA – Royale Boston***
FRI 24-Mar-17 New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place***
SAT 25-Mar-17 New York, NY – Terminal 5***
*support from Mark Johns & Skylar Spence
**support from Lophiile, Mark Johns & Skylar Spence
***support from Bipolar Sunshine & Gilligan Moss
Photo Credit: Mats Bakken