Matt Friedman is a New York City producer who made beats for major hip-hop artists, while Scott Mellis is an Australian singer-songwriter comfortable both with a guitar and a surfboard. The two talents literally came up on other sides of the world, but they ultimately came together in Los Angeles to create the alt-pop duo, The Brinks. Music producer Salaam Remi (Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, Usher) signed the group to his Sony imprint Louder Than Life, and the public gots its first taste of the music last year with the six-song EP Temporary Love. More recently, the duo dropped its follow-up, EP2, featuring the track "Never Get High Enough When You Buy The Drugs." PRØHBTD spoke with Matt and Scott to learn more about what got them here.
Matt, your production background is diverse, having worked with artists in numerous genres, including hip-hop, and assisting on live concert albums. In what ways does The Brinks combine your diverse tastes and talents into a single musical sound?
Matt: We always wanted our sound to sort of be two sonic spaces crashing into each other. Scott is an amazing songwriter and was focused on acoustic guitar songwriting before we linked up. His songs were somewhat haunting, and that really appealed to me. So I try to start with that aspect and then throw either really gritty, aggressive or lo-fi spacey sounds at it to create something that feels new to us.
Scott, from past music projects, how has your vocal style evolved, and what type of tone and mood did you hope to instill in these songs?
Scott: I definitely understand my voice more, and I'd like to think I use it more as an instrument in addition to singing the lyrics. Something we do a lot is we will sample my voice and make it into a sample, like at the start of “Temporary Love," the "oh oh ohs" and also at the end of “Stoned” where I basically sing a guitar solo that Matt cut up and added effects to. There are a lot of parts that sound like a synth pad in our music, but it’s really an effect-ed sample of my voice washed out with reverb. It's good in that way because it's not just a stock standard sound or instrument and it’s harder to replicate.
“Temporary Love” provokes colorful imagery just with the name. When writing the lyrics, did you envision a quick-yet-powerful romantic fling or something quick minus the romance?
Scott: It is a powerful theme, but it’s not about a particular romance. The song is more about our repetitive nature as humans, self-evolution and the internal conflicts we have in the pursuit of happiness.
Was there a song that appears on the EP that helped you determine the sound you ultimately wanted and that guided the rest of the material?
Matt: “Heart Shared” was the second song we ever wrote together, and it evolved over many months. I think that one set the stage for combining songwriting and some organic acoustic sounds with more electronic sounds.
What role did Salaam Remi play as executive producer, and was there anything he said that directly influenced the sound of Temporary Love?
Matt: The EP was actually completed by the time we met Salaam. He signed us to Sony and is our A&R and basically told us that he loved it how it was and didn't want us to change a thing. That was very empowering coming from such a legendary producer.
What brought both of you to Los Angeles?
Scott: I found it attractive because you can live a combination of a big city life while still being able to enjoy the outdoors.
Coming from New York and Australia, how would you describe the cultural shift coming to a city that is clearly so liberal on issues like gay rights, the environment and cannabis legalization?
Scott: I didn't feel much of a cultural shift except with more prominence of different nationalities, but besides that, really the differences in legislation probably show that Australia is behind.
Matt: For me, I think NY was always very progressive as well. I grew up just outside NYC and lived in the city for many years so LA's liberalism seems like a natural continuation of that. I love it.
I read that you both live in Venice. What are the strangest things you’ve seen on the boardwalk?
Scott: Hmm… I would have to say a weird Venice thing I saw recently was a whole barbecue grill in the water while surfing near the Venice Pier.
Matt: Sadly, I'm an East Sider so I don't get to see stuff like that. I live in Beachwood Canyon where our studio is.
Photo by Fabien Montique. David Jenison (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.