Eli Sones and Matt Halper of up-and-coming electronic duo Two Friends have been experiencing quite the surge of success in these past few months. Both living in Los Angeles, California, the boys met in school at a young age, and realized by their senior year of high school that they were meant to make music together, and have a blast along the way. The Two Friends name began to surface the internet when their remixes of Blink-182’s “I Miss You,” Alesso’s “Cool,” and their Fetty Wap remake titled “Trap King” went viral. With their newest original single titled “Forever” hitting 1 million plays on Spotify, it’s not surprising to see that the duo has received fourteen #1’s on Hype Machine, and are now exceeding 25 million views on their Soundcloud and Spotify pages. Many people refer to Two Friends as a melodic, soul, or progressive house genre, and while that may have truth to it, the boys are making it a point that they will not only continuously evolve as artists, but are also capable of producing whatever they put their creative minds to.
Matt and Eli traveled to New York City last Friday, July 8th, to perform at Club Lavo in Midtown Manhattan. The boys went on stage around 1:00 AM and threw down a two-hour show that lit up the club and had everyone, including myself, focusing their attention to the stage and dancing until their feet needed a breather. The duo’s mix for the night displayed their ability to captivate a range of different genres. Their vibe resonated with the crowd in a way that felt as if Matt and Eli were there to perform a set that would surely please everyone in the room, keeping them excited and partying throughout the night, while still showcasing the emblematic Two Friends sound. I watched the club goers go wild with excitement and reminiscence as Two Friends began to play their remix of “I Miss You” and had every person on the dance floor singing the famous Blink-182 lyrics. They closed out their set with their Fetty Wap remake “Trap King” and stepped off the stage around 3:00 AM.
I was fortunate to get the opportunity to sit down with the boys before their set to talk about the history of their Two Friends duo, their feelings about their rising success, and of course Pokémon Go and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Following my 20-minute conversation with Matt and Eli, I couldn’t stop thinking about their dynamic as friends. The boys are simply, yet very interestingly, just two best friends that love to joke around and work hard together. They not only flourish off of each other’s humor, but also thrive off of each other’s distinct drive to make and perform music as a team in the most progressive way possible. Two Friends left me with some great advice that I immediately took to heart and burned into my brain, and I hope that others can learn from Matt and Eli in the same positive manner. Check out that advice, and other fun and interesting topics from Two Friends in our exclusive interview below!
I wanted to ask one question to you guys because it is so hot outside and because I love ice cream… If you were a Ben and Jerry’s flavor, what would you each be?
Eli: I’m not going to be creative but I would be coffee. I think they call it something like “Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz” or something like that, right? I like don’t really like any other flavors of ice cream anymore. I’m not going to be unhappy if you gave me a different flavor, but I really don’t think in the last eight years I don’t think I’ve ever ordered something besides coffee.
Matt: I’m going to mess up all of the Ben and Jerry’s flavor names, but I would be the common name like Dulce de leche.
Eli: Phish food is pretty good too!
So you guys are two best friends producing music together, when did you guys meet and how long have you been friends?
Matt: In seventh grade we met, which was 2005.
Eli: In our weird awkward phases, I mean we totally still are… we haven’t really changed.
Matt: So we went to middle school and high school together. Then we started music together once we were in college, so like end of twelfth grade. We were friends before we knew how to do anything.
Eli: Well actually we had become friends through a different friend; we didn’t really have a class together for a while. We were in the same friend group. But when we knew we were going to college we just wanted to pick up something fun.
Matt: Yeah and now we’re best friends – well, business partners.
So you started producing music together at the end of your senior year of high school… I’m wondering, were you starting to produce individually and then you joined forces, or did you team up from the start?
Matt: Well actually we had no clue what we were doing — we had our name Two Friends before we started.
Eli: Yeah that was like we put in the hours to come up with the name
Were there any other names before you came up with Two Friends?
Matt: We were in class together and we would just sit in the back and think of names so there was one…
Eli: We must have talked about this in that class endless times. So first it was “The Boobonic Plague,” but it was spelled b-o-o-b, like ‘boob’ because that’s hilarious. I don’t think we would get booked anywhere. Maybe it can be our alter ego. Or Dos Amigos is our other alter ego.
As best friends, do you ever get on each other’s nerves or is it just smooth sailing most of the time?
Eli: I would say no more than any other normal group of friends. Any friend that you have, you’re not going to be perfect always.
So it’s like you’re a married couple almost? Haha
Eli: Yes, we actually get that a lot. Especially if someone else who doesn’t know us, like if we’re doing a session, or any situation when there’s a third person there, and we’re just in our natural state – arguing and joking – people are like, “Wow you guys are like a married couple.”
Matt: I mean you’re together during the week, you travel together… It’s just like a dynamic to get used to.
Eli: Sometimes I don’t know how other duos could spend that much time together if they’re not already good friends, it seems kind of weird to spend all that time with each other. You have to become friends before you start touring.
You guys seem like you love to joke around. So who’s funnier?
Matt: I think there are different types of humors. If you ask me to tell a joke, Eli will tell a better joke than me. I’ll probably do weird things.
Eli: Matt is good at Snapchat, he has good character stuff that he does.
Okay so on the spot, tell me a joke.
Eli: No I knew that was coming! Okay let’s do it.
Matt: This is his best thing… Name an object – anything – and he’ll make a joke about it.
Eli: You just have to understand that the jokes are purposefully bad. We’ll be in the studio and he’ll be like “Tell a joke about Tiesto” and I have to come up with it.
Matt: I’ll do one; I’ll give him an object. Tell a joke about trees.
Eli: Oh god, see I don’t like this pressure! What’s a tree’s favorite DJ? Paul Oakenfold.
What I’m curious about is your logo, how did you come up with that?
Matt: We’ve had a few. The one we have right now we got through a website and just had hundreds and hundreds of submissions. We had a talk with our team, I think what we want to do is… I mean as people we’re super not serious, but at the same time we want the brand to be semi serious, you know? So it’s kind of in between the two. We might not keep it forever.
Eli: Here I have the logo on my phone, do you know the hidden symbolism? The outlining in white is the 2, and then the rest is the F.
How would you guys describe your sound?
Eli: I think one thing is that it’s always evolving. That’s something we try to be careful of. It is important to have certain things that make you recognizable, like some of your songs make people say “Wow that sounds like Two Friends,” but at the same time you don’t want to be stuck in that box and do the same song over and over again.
Matt: We won’t really make a sudden jump towards some other genre, but slowly we’re going to evolve. And it’s usually like what people hear is a year after we’ve evolved.
Eli: The stuff we’ve been working on recently, even in the past year, we’re really excited about, but it’s definitely a little bit different than what people may be used to. While we were in school we would have a lot of pressure to get things done because we just really didn’t have enough time to relax and think big-picture-wise, we were like let’s get this done. So now we have the freedom to take our time.
Matt: In a year, our stuff will be so different than it is now.
Since you have been producing, has it always been electronic?
Matt: I didn’t even really like electronic music when he first was into it. I always listened to classic rock. And then when we started producing, the electronic music we were making sometimes just sounded bad. We started doing sampled rap beats, but it wasn’t fun.
Eli: Yeah the hip-hop didn’t last long at all. It’s not as much of your own project; we were making stuff for other people.
So you guys have been travelling and playing different music venues in New York, Miami, Las Vegas… So who was your favorite artist that you opened for?
Eli: Well we actually didn’t have many opening slots. But if you know Kap Slap, he blew up in the mashup college scene, and the reason I’d choose him particularly is because there was a good progression for us where, when I was in Europe for my semester abroad, Matt opened for Kap Slap at a place in San Francisco, and then we opened for him a total of three times, and in less than a year after that we got to headline that club. So that was just a good way of seeing that we made good progress.
What’s your favorite venue that you’ve played?
Matt: We’ve played about three times at Ruby Skye in San Francisco, and I personally think that’s amazing.
I read that you guys played a few times at The Linq in Las Vegas. How was that?
Matt: Yeah each venue is different. That venue is like a pool party. There we’re hanging with friends, drinking, playing a set. It’s not as much of a show, but it’s so fun.
Eli: Luckily, I can honestly say that no matter what they are fun. There’s some venues where maybe it’s not the best show setting, but it’s still going to be fun.
Have you always dreamed of playing music, traveling, and being an artist, or was it just something that kind of unfolded into your reality?
Matt: I would say that part of it is just a reality. I mean us and everyone that starts, they’re just making music in their bedroom and having fun, and then you get a little momentum and it shoots off.
Eli: In high school we did not think it would turn out like this. But I also think that it doesn’t work the other way around. If the only reason you’re getting into producing music is because of the fame, you’re going to be too impatient. It took us four years before we ever really did a real show that we were proud of. But we were okay with that because we were just doing it for fun
I personally love your Lana Del Rey remix of “Born to Die.” How did you guys feel when you heard that on satellite radio?
Matt: We actually got that because the guy that was in charge of that satellite radio station hit us up saying “Hey I really like this song of yours, do you want to remix this song?” We said “Uh sure!”
Eli: It came out of nowhere. It was very casual, the guy said, “I think you two would do great things with this song, let me know if you want to try it.” So we sent it to him, but to tell you the truth it was not done, there were still edits to be made, but we just sent it as more of a follow up to show him our progress. Then he responded saying “Turn on your radios in a half hour.” We weren’t even home, so I called my little brother and told him to go sit in the car and record this because it’s crazy.
Matt: That was one of our first moments where we were like “Wow that is sick.”
And your new song “Forever” just hit 1 million plays on Spotify, so that’s amazing! I love your originals… do you have maybe an EP or LP coming out any time soon?
Matt: We have so many originals. Our next one is called “Overdose” and we really love it. With originals it’s always a political battle to try to get them out as fast as we can. So we have that, and we’re also working on more original projects.
Looking into the near future, what do you guys have coming up?
Eli: We’re trying to figure out how to best package all of it, but there is so much music that we’ve really been working on for a while. Some of it dates back to three years ago where there are so many versions of it and now we’re happy with it, and some is brand new that we just wrote a couple months ago.
So I’m actually attending Syracuse University right now, literally learning about the music industry as my major… Do you have any advice for somebody like me that is trying to pursue a career in the business?
Matt: Well not even producers, just people in general, it’s important that you take initiative on anything and everything.
Eli: One piece of advice that I can give is that you shouldn’t ask people for favors immediately after meeting them. You should always give before you ask. You want them to ask you. Let’s say you are a DJ and you meet someone that owns a club. You shouldn’t say, “Oh please can you give me a spot to play?” because what have you done to earn that? Instead, just get to know them, learn from them, and ask them questions that will help you grow. And do everything you can so that he’s the one asking you to play for his club. That can be for DJs, it can be for managers, writers, anyone. You don’t want to come off as a beggar.
Matt: Yeah and I mean we’re still learning too of course!
And last unreal question… Have you guys heard about this Pokémon Go app?
Eli: Yes we were just talking about this; we’re very interested in it!
Yeah I’ve been catching Pokémon all day, just walking around and capturing them with Poké balls.
Eli: I wonder if there are any Pokémon in this restaurant!
Matt: I want to get the app; I’m just scared about not making music ever because it’s definitely a possibility.