Exclusive Interview: Black Cards

Just a few weeks ago we hit you with a really outstanding EP by a duo fresh on the EDM scene. While Black Cards may be new to dance music, they’re both well known veterans in the music industry, and more importantly, they’re guys who possess a whole lot of talent.

After Fall Out Boy went on hiatus, bassist and music icon Pete Wentz formed Black Cards as his new main project. Originally, the group was intended to be a four-piece band, but after the departure of vocalist Bebe Rexha and guitarist Nate Patterson, Wentz and Spencer Peterson decided to continue on as an EDM production/DJ duo.

Anyway, I was blown away by their debut EP Use Your Disillusion  I had to learn more about these guys; they’re by far one of the most exciting acts to hit the scene in a real long time. So, with that said, we got a chance to chat with Spencer Peterson who was able to provide us with a much clearer picture of how Black Cards formed, the work that went into producing their hit EP, and what the future holds for the rockstars turned superstar producer/DJ duo!

Mike:
Hey Spencer, thank you so much for being with us! I’m sure things are really crazy right now with the release of your new EP.

SP:
Thanks for having us! It’s nice to take a break from retweeting things about our record for a second, haha!

Mike:
So let’s jump right in! Being from NJ, I was real into the band scene back in high school, and I know you were/are the drummer of Hidden in Plain View, but how did you get into music originally, and moreover how did you get involved in production/DJing?

SP:
I started playing drums during 4th grade in the school band and continued that all the way to the Atlanta Institute of Music after high school. Eventually, I left AIM to start touring and recording full-time — that’s what I’ve done ever since.

In 2008 I heard Justice’s ”Cross” and Wolfgang Gartner’sFirepower“… that changed everything for me. It totally flipped my perspective of dance music. I played the shit out of “Cross,” and got way into the Ed Banger catalog — just finding all this new music I didn’t know about was really exciting. Our friends GRVRBBRS turned me on to a ton of shit too and I ran with it, especially DatA, MSTRKRFT, and the Bloody Beetroots. Then, about 2 months into early-Black Cards rehearsals, Pete texted me real late one night and goes “yo can you make beats?” I had no idea how, but I said yes anyways. I had Logic, but only used it for backing track stuff. The next day I got up and started teaching myself. Lots of youtube tutorials early on, haha!

Mike:
Haha, I feel you on that one. I’d be an absolute failure in life without Youtube. So, with all of that in mind, how did you and Pete link up? What made the two of you decide to start producing after Nate and Bebe left the band?

SP:
We met through mutual friends and touring together back in like 2005. I was on tour with Cobra Starship in 2010 for a while and when we played LA, Pete and I talked about the idea of Black Cards. It started as something completely different then where we are now — that transition took some time to figure itself out. Anyway, during the earlier stages of BC I was digging deeper into producing and we got an opportunity to do a remix for Rihanna through our label. We were in Dubai for a show actually and Pete sang that first verse into my laptop at like 6am, then we did the rest of the track at home. I think it was that aspect of “whoa we can do shit like this whenever and wherever we want and this is fun as shit–” that was so appealing to me. So we started to do a bunch of remixes and after the Major Lazer/PartysquadOriginal Don” remix, we decided we wanted to take it in that direction full-time.

Mike:
Such a crazy evolution! But I agree, I think that it’s the fact that you can work on EDM anywhere, anytime that makes it so appealing. So both of you come from rock band backgrounds, what are you finding different about the EDM scene? Are there anythings you dislike in comparison?

SP:
The word “tour” is used way differently. For a band it’s like, you pack for 6-8 weeks, get in a bus with all your gear and don’t come home until tour is over. But with the edm scene, if you’re not traveling with production at least, it’s easier to fly around every few days with no specific routing. But I think with festival tours like Identity Festival, dance music is starting to embrace a more traditional touring style and I’m into that, that’s the kind of touring I’m familiar with.

Mike:
We’ve become really close with Amba Shepherd in recent months and she’s actually the one that sent me over your EP a few days ago. Needless to say, I was really impressed. Not that I doubted you guys, but I wasn’t really expecting something quite so intricate as a first EP release.

I’ve done a fair amount of production work myself, and I know it’s not easy to jump into the craft. How’d you guys come out on such a high level? Did you guys teach yourselves, or have you worked with anyone else in the past that’s sort of shown you the ropes?

SP:
I think if we had put these songs out any earlier they would have been premature. Production wise I mean, we wouldn’t have been ready at this point last year. It’s been (and will always be) hours and hours and hours of trial and error.. especially error. “Talk Dirty” went through 4 entirely different sessions before we settled on it. It’s taken countless hours of toying with one sound just to scrap it later, or working on a melody for a thousand hours until you finally land something you’re happy with. All that bullshit is practice for when you finally create what you set out to create though.

When I moved to LA, I hung out at Shiny Toy Guns’ studio and learned a lot from them. Same with the guys in GRVRBBRS, we always nerd on each other. I dork out with friends all the time, I’m always down to talk shop. And also when we’re home it’s studio time, all the time. All those hours eventually add up.

Mike:
Seriously, if I could just find a few more hours in the day to do a little more producing myself…

I really love “Talk Dirty;” it has an amazing grunge that is balanced out nicely by Amba’s cool vocals. How’d you guys link up with Amba? What made you want to work with her?

SP:
I heard her on “Vandalism” by Porter Robinson and immediately fell in love with her voice — it fit that track so perfectly. I wanted to work with her so bad and when we made a wish list for vocalists on “Talk Dirty”, she was #1. Our management reached out to her and I was floored when she said she was into it. She recorded it a few days later in Australia and sent it back — I was totally geeking out on it. Such a sweetheart too, I can’t wait to work on another track together!

Mike:
You guys also worked with Matthew Koma on “End of Pretend.” Ever since his feature on Zedd’sSpectrum,” he’s become another big name in dance vocals.

In a lot of ways the track itself reminds me of Zedd’s style. We’re you guys inspired by “Spectrum,” and therefore chose to work with Koma?

SP:
Matt and Pete had worked on vocal ideas together near the end of 2011; “End of Pretend” came out of that session. We finished that song before the others, but in the time between completing the other tracks, mixing, mastering, then label stuff , he did “Years” with Alesso, and then released “Spectrum” with Zedd. Matt is a total genius by the way, I feel like this is just the tip of a very big iceberg for him.

Mike:
Oh wow, I had no idea you guys worked with Matt that far back! I agree, he’s ridiculously talented and is going to do huge things in the dance industry and out.

Speaking of inspiration, being that you guys are relatively new to this genre, which artists do you look up to?

SP:
Wolfgang Gartner is a big one for me. Just from a production standpoint he’s bar none — his melodies and structures are incredible. I think Knife Party are great too, as well as Bloody Beetroots, Dirtyloud, Bag Raiders and Madeon to name a few..

Mike:
Looks like you and I see pretty eye to eye when it comes to artists. Gartner is in a league of his own!

I’m really curious to know what’s been the highlight moment for Black Cards so far? It doesn’t even have to be related to the music itself, but anything that happened out on tour, or in the club/festival that was particularly noteworthy?

SP:
Jim Belushi walked on stage the last time we played in Hollywood. I turned around and he was just there, hanging out.

Mike:
Haha, that’s crazy!

So now that you guys have released your EP, where are you going from here? What do you have in store for the rest of 2012?

SP:
Releasing a lot of music and playing a bunch of shows. And gleaming the cube.

Mike:
Thanks again for taking the time guys! Black Cards is going to do huge things, and you’ve got our full support! Be sure to hit us up next time your in the NYC/NJ area!

SP:
Cheers man, thank you!

-Mike @3nVMusic

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