SF Weekly: How many years have you played at Dirtybird Campout?
Walker & Royce: 3 years now
SFW: This is my first year at the campout, I’m a total noob but it’s grown at leaps and bounds right? How has it shifted in terms of feel and flow?
Gavin Royce: It hasn’t! It’s still as cool as it was the first year. The vibe is always the same. The vibe has hasn’t changed one bit. The first year was very new, everybody was like, “Is this going to work?” It was so cool that I remember was these people turned it down and the next year, it almost doubled in size but also every DJ and producer all wanted to play. It totally shifted.
SFW: When you guys first started putting sounds together, how did you know this was your style of music?
Sam Walker: Basically, I was doing EDM-ish kinda stuff. Gavin was doing much more like Disco house. The contrast was pretty high and because we met in the middle of it. Gavin was sort of like a prism that I could change the production style through. As opposed to doing things on my own. Gavin was A&R’ing for an off-shoot record label called Nurvous records, like NEW-rvous.
This was when deep house started becoming popular again. I think that’s probably why literally the second or third track we did was a remix we made with our friend Gavin and it went out on Nurvous and then Damian Lazarus picked it up. If that didn’t happen it might have taken a lot longer for us to even keep working together. We had early success and then it took a long time.
We did this record called Connected, which I would say.…was probably our most successful.
SFW: When did you sign with Dirtybird and what was your first single?
W & R: 2016 and “Boy”
SFW: I listened to the new album, it’s great!
W & R: Thank you!
SFW: When did you start the Self Help project?
W & R: Started in January and we finished in August 2017.
SFW: What made you guys want to drop a full length album? Now that we’re in an EP and Single world.
Sam: It was important for a couple reasons, one of which was strategic, so you could get singers to pay attention to you. If you’re going to do a whole album for a legit label, singers are going to be like, “Well, I’ll listen to your whole album.” It’s not just going to be some dance-y p. It sort of gets you a lot of visibility and people take it seriously, but then the music gets way better. We have six or seven features on the album, which we always wanted to do. It’s frustrating, because I don’t sing, he doesn’t sing. I don’t do anything vocally, just sample hunting and this, that, and the other thing so the album was a way of putting stuff together.
Gavin: The biggest challenge for both of us is when you write house tracks and sample something, you can always do that. Doing an album really put us in a corner and challenged us to do something different, to not just make 10 tracks that we find a cool sample and put it over the record and make it, like, jack — you know, everybody puts their hands up at the drop, and that’s fun and we like doing that and it’s on the album, but stuff on this album. That was like the scariest thing to me because so many people, now we live in an EP’s world, everybody can do this.
SFW: Let’s talk about the second song on the album, “Role Models.” Who is this guy, Oncue? He sounds great!
Sam: My cousin used to manage some hip-hop artists and I called him up. He doesn’t do it anymore, but he was like, “Check this guy out.” Oncue lives in Brooklyn, and literally his studio is right next to the studio we used to rent in Bushwick. And he sounds great, so I had this track that we were going to do and I sent it to him, and he was like, “Cool!” It took us a while, nothing happened but I hit him up again.
Gavin: We set up a couple things and we wanted him to sing on this thing like really slow. He was like, “I don’t want to sing on that. I want to sing on this other thing.” We were like, “Uh, OK.” He wanted to do something more in his wheelhouse but I think it came together really well.
Sam: We had no idea what he was going to do on this track. This track bed that he sang on became a track was like, totally written for some other thing, a remix for this track that was like — and it was meant to be this utility, like a bed for us to get something good out of them and then we lay their vocal over something else. But it sounded so good, and he sang it to me in the studio just over an empty track, and I was like, “This is going to be awesome.” He made it work!
SFW: Who did your album cover? Was this your concept?
Gavin: Lee Trice. A friend from Brooklyn, he’s an artist and I’ve always really loved his work.
Gavin: Lee came up with a couple ideas, and we were like, “Let’s work with this idea.” And it kind of morphed into — if you look at the album art, the “Take Me to Your Leader” single and “Rub-a-Dub,” those are the two of the possible albums covers.
Sam: They were early versions of the album art. So we used them for the first two singles.
Gavin: From the beginning, I wanted it to have a lot of stuff happening and to have an acid look. I didn’t want it to look ’80s or be a photograph.
SFW: And finally… What does “Hit dem Draws” mean?
Sam: Like fucking. Draws are like pants, so … hit them. It’s one little lyric and we just looped it.
Incase you missed Walker & Royce at Dirtybird Campout, don’t you worry! Walker & Royce will be playing hits like “Take Me To Your Leader” and “Role Models” from their highly anticipated album Self Help with Golf Clap this Saturday in San Francisco at Halcyon, 314 11th Street, San Francisco. Click here for Tickets.