After a short hiatus, we have returned with a few New York locals worthy of some praise. US – a collaborative force made up of Mike Palladino and Kevin Saes, two East Coaster’s with an endearing friendship bringing attitude back to a sounds system near you. In a day and age when artists have to reach far to create something authentic, US is making major traction in the category of dance-your-ass-off good music. From up-and-coming locals to SoundCloud sensations, US is bringing quality dance music back to NYC (and abroad).
This is the second in a series of DT features highlighting local artists that are making a difference not only in the music industry, but also within their communities. ‘Support Local Artists’ who are setting the tone for today.
We often praise the pioneers that laid the groundwork for making music what it is today, but sometimes we come across new talents worthy of a mention. Many artists chase their passion for music making “by all means”, but there’s something humbling about those that move stealthily, staying true to their roots and sharing knowledge along the way. Emerging artists conceptualize the pros of the past and potential visions for the future, but the passion had to rise from somewhere. In lieu of DT’s new series ‘Support Local Artists’, we caught up with US to chat about their unique sound, New York upbringing, upcoming release on CUFF, and more… If they’re not there yet, we’re about to put some buzz-worthy, hybrid dance music on your radar.
These days people are often bending the lines between genres and we certainly feel a range of influential sound in your productions. There are elements of hip hop, “hip-house” or G-House, classic house, acid and techno. A little bit of everything good. How would you describe your music?
MP: I couldn’t really begin to give a definitive answer as to where we land on the spectrum, but whether it be tech house, techno or house, we are just looking to make people have no choice but to react and lose control on the dancefloor
SAES: Without trying to sound cliche, our sound is really just a mix of things we like – techno, house, a bit of hip hop and a lot of eccentricity.
Support from the likes of Patrick Topping, Amine and Dance, Steve Lawler, The Vibe Killers, and Loco Dice. Killer edits, original productions and remixes for major players such as Amine Edge, Moderat, PARTYNEXTDOOR and most recently, Drake. Your work on ‘One Dance (No Sex In The Champagne Room Edit)’ sets the tone for gritty, funky, dancefloor destruction which we could say for many of US productions. Many have tried to tango with hip hop and house and many have failed, with the great exception of the CUFF label. This month you guys have your debut release dropping on CUFF – can you tell us a bit about what we can expect from your debut release and the road leading up to the final edit?
MP: (laughs) Well it was a bit of a surprise to get support from guys as big as the names mentioned. As far as the edits go, I’m personally sick of the same classic songs edited and re-edited over and over so we wanted to bring something new and edit some of our favorite current artists, so it was really cool when a lot of people started to support the edits. Some are friends yes, but trust me when I say I’ve sent them way more music that was rejected than actually accepted, ha. Especially from Amine because Amine is very particular with his sound and pushes for the best possible product which in return makes us work harder to get a better result… it’s a bit nerve racking but that’s part of the process. As far as what you can expect from our CUFF release… acid, driving techno, with a sexy vocal from our Bro SerGy, who, in my opinion, is one of the most talented vocalists in the scene right now. We have high aspirations for the release.
SAES: Our debut CUFF track, ‘Crush It (featuring SerGy)’ is a big room track that melts somewhere between techno and acid. The track came about after a show last Halloween where we met SerGy who had been invited by our friends Tim Baresko and Clyde P. One thing led to another and Mike talked SerGy into coming to the studio for a couple of days while he was in town. After that, it all came together very quick… SerGy laid down some vocals and we just went to work, loading up the TR8 and our TB3 which play front and center throughout the track. Fast forward to December 8th, 2016 – we opened for Amine & Dance at Output and played it for them at which point they loved i, and the rest is history.
What is a key component to your sound (technique, piece of equipment)?
MP: Our minds, and how motivated we are. You can have all the hardware in the world but if you aren’t in the right mindset it means nothing. As for equipment, definitely the Maschine Studio for me — it’s taking our drum programming to the next level, and drums to me are the most important.
SAES: Definitely has to be our signature percussive sound you can hear used in a majority of our edits and prominently in our CUFF release.
What is your take on digital DJs and the eerie theory of “just pressing buttons?”
MP: I don’t care what you play on as long as your intention is pure. If you’re doing it because you think it’s cool or some shitty reason, I have beef with that. I learned how to play on Traktor and it made it easier for mw… I’m not one of those guys that forgot where they came from. I do feel that at some point you need to learn how to play on every format to truly master the craft, which is still a work in progress for me. I guess it always will be. Wee never want to stop improving.
SAES: I think we should let the crowd decide.
How did your relationship with Amine Edge and Dance, and the CUFF family come about?
MP: Well, I’ve been a friend of Amine for about 6 years now… basically, I just reached out on Facebook because I liked his music. We got really friendly are started trading music back and forth. One day he started working with Laurent (DANCE) who is a long time friend of his. They made ‘Going to Heaven with the Goodie Goodies’ which was the start of G-house, a sound they pioneered accidentally. The label name CUFF came from me actually, it means “Cool and tough.” Amine immediately loved it. Thanks to one of my closest friends, Jeremy Anderson and his run in with a swaggy homeless guy for that inspiration.
SAES: Mike has known Amine and Dance for a long time now… I met them 2 years ago when we were in Ibiza in 2015 and I couldn’t be happier for the encounter. They have to be two of the nicest people I’ve ever met in this industry.
And the birth of US (Mike Palladino and SAES) – How did you guys come together to call yourselves US?
MP: Kevin stalked me out Facebook… he asked me to play a party and next thing I know, I’m popping his backne in Ibiza (yumm). Kevin is family to me now and he’s everything I’m not, which I admire… regardless if I let him know that often, or not. As far as the name goes, I’ll let Kevin explain that one.
SAES: “US” really came about as a joke… Mike & I had been doing a few B2Bs throughout 2015 and after Ibiza we decided to start working together full-time. One afternoon in the studio I joked that we should call ourselves “US” because it would make for confusion when people asked who was playing and it kind of just stuck.
We started this series to highlight local up-and-coming talent that deserves to be put on the map. Those with identifiable originality tied to their upbringing. What (or who) are some key New York elements that have influenced your sound/style, and how have you guys made an imprint on your city?
MP: Joe Pompeo has a lot of great tracks coming out on Cajual and Material, Alan Nieves has for sure been putting out some massive tunes, and our studio buddies The Gamebreakerz have some solid music on the way soon as well. Shout out to Greco too because before I even met him, I knew his music and knew that he had already caught the attention of the OG’s. As far as the New York elements that influenced our sound, beautiful and bright like city lights, but tough and gutter like city streets – a perfect balance of all New York has to offer. I’m not sure if we have accomplished enough to leave an imprint on the scene here, let alone the city… we just want to contribute to the culture here as much as possible. I guess you could say our imprint is the vibrations felt on the dancefloors we play.
SAES: If you know New York you know it’s a big city with lots of shiny places and a lot of gritty not so nice places, you can say our sound puts those two together. I can’t say how or if we’ve made an imprint on the city, all I can say is we put our all into everything we do and hope that translates into our music.
Though New Yorkers, you’re crossing the pond come January with a move to Manchester. What brought about this move?
MP: Ever since my first trip to Manchester, I’ve had a love affair with the city. There are risks that need to be taken in order to succeed in whatever it is you want to succeed at in life. Currently both working full time and making music on the side, it’s holding us back from reaching our full potential. Moving to Europe where the music is much bigger and much more appreciated is where I feel we need to be to make our dreams come true.
SAES: sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith.
Growing up in New York in the 90s is a special medal of honor to carry. What’s one of your favorite 90s jams?
MP: Loaded question…
DMX – Intro to it’s Dark and Hell is Hot
Biggie Smalls & Bone Thugs & Harmony – Notorious Thugs
Mark Morrison – Return of the Mack
Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm
Nirvana – Breed …I can do this all day
SAES: In De Ghetto (David Morales Remix) – I probably heard this song over 1,000 times as a kid before I even knew what house music was.
What do you want people to know about US?
MP: That when we are on a bill, just know you’re going to dance your ass off.
SAES: I just want people to know our music, anything else is a bonus.
And for some cliché questions…Why did you start making music?
MP: I love music so much that it was the only thing I could do to express that, and the computer made up for my lack of skills with instruments.
SAES: I wasn’t really good at making friends.
When did you fall in love with dance music?
MP: Block parties in the 90s… Eevery time I heard ‘Dreamer’ by Livin’ Joy I’d lose my shit, so I’d constantly search through stacks of CD’s at my cousin Johns, who worked for Tommy Boy Records at the time (dang, Tommy Boy name drop…)
SAES: Probably as a kid growing up… KTU was always on the radio in my parent’s car so I grew up listening to it, but then I really dove head first into the culture when I was about 19-20. (KTU in the 90s could do no wrong)
If you’re not allover their SoundCloud page already, what are you doing with your life? Go check out the US SoundCloud and Facebook pages and get yourselves to New York to catch them live in The Panther Room on Halloween, and Static After-Hours on November 26th.