These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find an artist that limits themselves to one medium. With the availability to learn new skills via the internet, mixing in with a host of creatives that are open for collaboration, and the desire to push ourselves as often as we can, the world is quickly becoming rife with multi-hypenates. Enter Bixel Boys, the DJ duo who already tore down barriers with their #FREELIFE clothing brand which broke Paypal upon launch. This time they've partnered up with fellow L.A. trendsetters, the electronic label OWSLA and female streetwear brand Dimepiece, to expand the brand for ladies. We catch up with Ian and Robert to discuss collaboration, killer dance moves, and why the worlds of fashion and music are so intertwined. But first check out the video for the song that kicked the whole thing off with Poupon.
First of all, congrats on the OWSLA release! What was it like getting to collaborate with them and DimepieceLA on the "Ain't Your Girl" collection?
Ian: Working with those girls was awesome. Madisen [Sowers] is an amazing designer and super talented and [marketing coordinator] Jasmine [Chucuan] over there was just a pleasure to vibe with. Linking up with like-minded L.A. locals with great taste and style is always welcomed; particularly with helping us navigate the waters of our first female focused #freelife release.
Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Or, in this case, was the song created first then the collection? How did it all come about?
Ian: The song was first, we actually produced it last May in Amsterdam with our buddy Ben (Poupon). We initially sent the track to our friend Jonah who works at NEST HQ for a free release, then it ended up getting heard by OWSLA people and the rest was history. After we were locked in with OWSLA, we decided it'd be appropriate to do a collection along with it and Dimepiece was a perfect fit.
The dancing in the accompanying video is insane. I've watched it a couple times through already. Were the moves choreographed or did you have the dancers come in and freestyle on the spot? How did you find everyone?
Ian: We actually had a production company help cast dancers. I remember the first videos we got of the auditions watching everyone just killing it to our song was really surreal. We were at the shoot and I was just in awe of how talented that group was, so thankful to all of them for being apart of it.
For those who may not be familiar with it, can you give us a little background on #FREELIFE, and why fans have latched on to it to the point where it has become ubiquitous in dance music culture?
Ian: Ha, the story of #FREELIFE is always evolving, but it's a mantra that essentially means 'be yourself.' But in short, it was our take on what 'merch' could be. We both view ourselves not as DJ's, or designers, or producers but just creatives; so we try to approach things in a different ways rather than just mindlessly putting our name onto shirts. We thought, why not really push it into a full brand? I think it's how fans are these days though. Kids don't just listen to EDM exclusively or wear certain brands exclusively. Everyone is open-minded and I think #FREELIFE is a flag to them to represent their ideals.
Why do you guys think the cultures of fashion and music are so intertwined?
Robert: Quite simply, they're both forms of personal expression that compliment each other well. They seem to bring out a similar type of progressive/creative mindset. Personally, as a technologically forward songwriter with zero fashion sense, I find fashion absolutely fascinating and then usually end up gravitating towards those types of people. I'd like to think it's a similar perspective from the other side.
You guys seem to have your hands in so many different pots. Any tips for young creatives on how you guys stay on top of things?
Ian: This is a good question. In fact, we just met about this with our management the other day. For us, it's important to have outlook, knowing that we need 'x' amount of goals that we structure all our creative efforts around. Otherwise you end up just kinda going in circles. But the variety in our creativity is really what keeps us moving.
Robert: Just keep learning new things. Every day. There's youtube now so you have no excuses. ;)
While many people this day and age try and fail, you guys have successfully transformed the BixelBoys beyond just a music project and into a whole lifestyle brand. Was expanding beyond music always the plan or did it just sort of happen?
Ian: Yeah. It's pretty cliche now to say "I want to be a brand" but to us branding and marketing is just as much of an art as music production. It was a goal of ours at the beginning of this project to conduct ourselves a little differently than just DJs... we wanted to be a brand that made music and because our tastes extend beyond just DJing and producing music we wanted an outlet constructed to be able to house all those things.
Robert: Definitely planned to go beyond music from the start. I think that's why it was 'easy' for us to be successful early on. We didn't necessarily have the best content, but we had a more unique way of getting it out to the world.