The cancellation of Day 3 of Electric Zoo left festival goers stumped as they tried to come up with ways to savor the remainder of their weekend. With the official after parties selling out, there were many fans left with nothing to do. However, a few additional artists scrambled to throw together last minute gigs to give Electric Zoo fans a place to spend their Sunday evening. One of the surprise shows had a lineup that was bound to be madness, including: Mark Instinct, KDrew, Pegboard Nerds, Dank, and Subset. Easily the craziest lineup of the evening, there were many who weren’t about to miss out on the event. We had a chance to talk with Alex and Michael, also known as the duo, Pegboard Nerds, earlier that evening before the show. We asked about their latest EP, their tour, and their opinions on the cancellation of Day 3.
You recently released your Guilty Pleasures EP. Tell me about what went into this?
A: We made most of it in a hotel room in Orlando. It was basically finished before we went there, but then we decided to scrap three of the tracks for various reasons, so we had to come up with some new stuff on the fly. We were having a mini tour in the states and had about ten days off, so we just stayed inside and worked for ten days straight.
So it was a super quick turnaround?
A: Yeah, some of the tunes were halfway there like ‘Razor Sharp’. Then there’s ‘High Roller’ which has actually existed for about two years in various versions, and finally we just decided to do a trap version.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
A: We decided to make music that we want to play out ourselves. We do whatever we feel like, so it’s really anything.
M: Anything goes. It could be techno, it could be dubstep, trap, house, electro house. We just want to do whatever we feel like doing, so it just has to be good. It has to be something we feel we want to play and can actually dance to. It needs to be danceable.
Who are your biggest influences?
M: There are various from when we started Pegboard Nerds. Obviously there are a lot of influences in the scene right now. Classics like Knife Party, Skrillex, all the major ones, but we have a lot of influences from earlier on.
A: Yeah, there are a lot of influences that go into our music from way back. From Michael’s hip hop days, euro dance, trance. We like the modern bass lines, the dubstep bass lines.
M: It’s just that we don’t want to be confined to one genre. We want to do what we want and make one big pile of fun.
A: We don’t have one favorite artist. It’s like asking me my favorite movie, I can’t. Michael can though.
What’s your favorite?
M: Blade Runner and another one is Shawshank Redemption. That’s very common though because it’s like number one on the IMDb [laughs], but it’s a good movie.
A: My favorites include 12 Monkeys, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Blade Runner, Moon, 2001, and 2010. I like a lot of sci-fi.
M: And A Clockwork Orange.
A: A Clockwork Orange is a really good one.
You guys just kicked off the second part of your North American tour. What can your fans expect from these performances?
A: A lot of jumping, shouting. We’re going to play some new tunes. Well, we always do that. It’s nice to test drive tunes that are in progress and see how they affect the audience. Then we can go back and make changes. It’s sort of like a playground where you can try out new stuff.
M: We like to surprise people with a little bit of everything. One minute we can play a dubstep tune and the next we can play a glitch hop or electro house.
A: You can sense the energy in the room if they need something different. That’s when we know they need something else.
I’m going to touch on this real quick. The last day of Electric Zoo was canceled due to two deaths caused by drug overdose; do you feel this was the best decision?
M: In respect to the families, yes, but a lot of people die from taking drugs everywhere. It could be in a school, it could be at a rock party, it could be anywhere. So with that in mind, I think it’s hard to say. It affects a lot of people. Something like 40,000 people want their money back and it’s a lot of mess. In the end, it’s not the 40,000 people who caused the two people’s death. It’s the two people themselves. I do think that the problem is that in America, everybody does drugs somehow or drinks or does stupid things that they’re not allowed to. In Europe it’s a little different because there’s a lot of information about these things. You can go to a pharmacy and get a pamphlet with info saying if you need to take drugs, be aware of this, this, and this. You can go to your doctor and get a dose if you need that. You wouldn’t get that here. The boo here is a little bigger than where we come from.
Do you think there’s more we can do to prevent this from happening again?
M: Information and awareness.
A: I think that was part of the reason they did cancel. The deaths were not connected, but separate.
M: One Friday, one Saturday. They were afraid it would happen again.
How do you think this is going to affect the way people look at electronic dance music?
M: You know with rock ‘n’ roll in the 70's, this is the same. It’s young rebels who want to do what their parents tell them not to. It’s just about being a rebel. The drugs are part of it. It’s a sensible thing to talk about.
I agree. What can we expect from you guys for the rest of the year?
M: A lot of music and a lot of DJing.
Any future collaborations?
M: But we can’t tell you [laughs]. Yeah, we can. There’s one coming out with Kairo Kingdom.
A: Both a collab and a remix.
M: Plus we have some remixes coming up that others have done of our tunes.
A: Yeah, that’s exciting. We kind of put that off for a long time.
M: We always said no because Alex is arrogant [laughs]. No, we just never saw a reason why someone should do a remix. We found the original good enough. It sounds arrogant but we felt if there was no need, why do it? Now our record company got us thinking about something else, so we agreed to get some remixes done by people that we like.
Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Both: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
After the interview, we then proceeded to head over to Steel Drums, a warehouse in Brooklyn, where the last minute show was being held. Mark Martinez, also known as Subset, gave us his take on the day:
“Sunday... where do I even begin. I was working for Electric Zoo, so I found out around 9am what had happened. After several hours of mental debate, I started reaching out to venues trying to find somewhere to host a show to give some of the 30,000-40,000 people somewhere to go. It took me a while to reach the decision that it would be good to have a party. At first it felt that it would be disrespectful to those who died at Electric Zoo, but all these kids were still looking for somewhere to go. If we could provide a safe place where we could promote positivity and have at least some discussion about these things, then that's good, right?
Luckily, my good friends Alex and Sabrina came through with a venue and got the artists on board. I jumped on and got my headliner from Bassment Saturdays, Mark Instinct, on board as well.
Mark and I showed up around 10:30PM, I spent some time tweaking the sound system, then went out and talked a bit with the kids waiting in line. 'If we work together, this can be an amazing and positive night.' And it was! It was one of the sweatiest, craziest parties I've ever been to. No altercations with only 1 bouncer and 700 kids through the door. The vibes, the positivity... it was everywhere. No one cared how ridiculously hot it was, everyone was just glad to be there. I ran around all night helping out stocking the bar, bringing water to the artists, MCing a bit, all that jazz. Even though it wasn't my party, I can never let an understaffed party go unhelped. I guess that comes from running my own for so long.”
A night for the books, the evening was an overwhelming success. The talent was top notch, the music was massive, and the crowd was insane. Personally, this was one of the most amazing shows we have ever been to. With nothing but good vibes, the disappointment of the cancellation of Day 3 was quickly forgotten.
Be sure to check out 'Razor Sharp' from Pegboard Nerds and Tristam below!
Joonbug would like to give a special thank you to Sheraton Times Square Hotel for their support as we covered Electric Zoo.