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New York based duo Musclears are unquestionably two of Brooklyn’s most exciting players championing high-quality house music. The New York duo made up has teamed up with singer, songwriter and Grammy-nominated vocalist Brandon Markell Holmes for their debut on French Horb Rebellion’s toucan sounds imprint.
We caught up with musclecars and Brandon Markell Holmes to hear about their new release ‘Don’t Go’ on toucan sounds, life as producer’s and DJ’s and their current lockdown activities.
Hey guys, thanks for chatting with us today. To kick things off, in your opinion, how would you say that the music scene has changed over the last few years in New York? Are there any particular venues that you love to check out for new music? Or record shops you particularly like to dig in?
Brandon: I would say that the scene has definitely grown in the last few years. There are now more venues that cater to underground dance music. Nowadays, Public Records, Mood Ring, and Le Bain are some of my regulars.
Craig: We did a shirt for our Coloring Lessons clothing division that highlights all of our favorite record stores around our city. If you need a list of go-to’s, it’s a good place to start!
You recently celebrated your Coloring Lessons Two Year Anniversary at Mood Ring in NYC, how did that go? Were there any highlights or special moments from the night?
Brandon: That was such a magical night, and hands down my favorite party so far this year. The highlight for me was seeing the same faces that have been attending our parties over the years, I’m really grateful for that.
Craig: Seeing a bunch of people who were there from our very first party was super special. We’ve strived to build a community around our Coloring Lessons parties, and I’m really glad to finally see it happening. We also did a live version of our latest release with Brandon Markell Holmes, that was definitely a tear-jerker!
What would you say are your top five releases for this year so far?
Various Artists – The Evolution Phase One (Vision Recordings)
Renee and Angela – I Love You More – Edits by Mr. K (Most Excellent Unlimited)
Louie Vega – Expansions In The NYC Preview EP 2 (Nervous Records)
Chaos In The CBD – Chaos In The CBD & Friends (Neroli)
Joe Claussell – With More Love GTR Version (Sacred Rhythm Music and Cosmic Arts)
Jay Daniel – SSD (Watusi High)
Chaos In The CBD – Emotional Intelligence / It’s Up To Me (Neroli)
Jamie 3:26 – Jamie 3:26 Presents A Taste Of Chicago (BBE)
Dazzle Drums – Early Works (Green Parrot Recordings)
Omar S – You Want (FXHE Records)
Your debut release ‘Don’t Go’ on toucan sounds features warm, classic-like, synth sounds throughout. What did you start with when writing this track? Was it the vocals or a particular sample that inspired it? Or do you have any specific hardware or software that you turn to get a rhythm or melody down first?
Craig: Usually the melody + rhythm comes first, by way of keys or humming into the voice recorder app. I actually improvised most of the lyrics walking around Greenpoint (Brooklyn) one night, going between singing and humming the melody into my voice recorder app. A few days later I wrote it down, and we went into the studio a week or two after that.
Outside of studios and DJ booths, what inspires your creativity and music production? Do you have any special rituals, practices or environments that you find particularly gets your inspiration flowing?
Craig: For me, it definitely comes from being outside. I think subconsciously the sounds of the city heavily inspire our production.
Brandon: I love walking around NYC, particularly downtown Manhattan. The people and spontaneity of the city is extremely inspiring for me.
Finding an escape from a lively life in music can be tricky. How do you tend to spend your downtime? Do you prefer to see friends and family or get lost in a record shop? Are there any activities, such as cooking, reading or record digging, that you turn too?
Brandon: I’m a huge nerd for health and nutrition, discogs, clothing and video games. Outside of that I love spending time with family and close friends.
Craig: I think the most relaxing things for me is painting, writing, and some time alone at my piano experimenting and getting fixated on different ideas. When I have a bit of free time to see friends, it’s usually linking to grab matcha and stroll around the city.
You’ve recently started the Coloring Lessons Mix Series, and it is now five episodes in with some great guests, how is this going? Who else do you have lined up for the series and will it be mainly focused towards NYC-based DJs and producers?
Brandon: The mix series is something that we’ve had in the pipeline, and we were just waiting on an appropriate time to do it. With the recent shutdowns in response to the Coronavirus, many in our industry have lost work. We’d decided to launch the series as a platform to shed light on DJ’s and producers that have been affected.
Craig: Because we’re currently urging fans to send donations to the artists if they enjoy the mix, we’re first reaching out to our fellow DJs who don’t have day jobs. There are a lot of us (myself included) who solely rely on gigs for income, and so we just want to make sure we uplift our community with the small platform that we have. As Coloring Lessons is NYC based, we started at home, but we have mixes coming soon from P. Leone (Berlin), Hugo LX (Paris), and Paurro (CDMX).
What else do you having coming up soon? Should we be keeping an eye out for more interviews, live streams, releases or any other projects you would like to mention?
Craig: We just finished a remix for NJ-Based Techno Act Jamal Dixon, which is coming soon on Nylon Recordings. Other than that, we have a few more projects you’ll hear about in the near future and Year 3 of Coloring Lessons.
Brandon: Definitely projects, interviews, streams, and more parties soon!
musclecars ‘Don’t Go’ featuring Brandon Markell Holmes on toucan sounds is out now.
Purchase / Stream here: