Served at any New Jersey diner, disco fries are covered with cheese and gravy. Nick Ditri and Danny Boselovic, the production duo known as The Disco Fries
, are not at all cheesy. Meeting up at the Berklee College of Music and coming from different musical backgrounds, they joined up and started playing and creating dance music. Fast forward a few years and they’ve grown into one of most musically-based production duos who have managed to be successful in both the commercial and underground worlds. Their songs get played by the international superstars (Hardwell
, Steve Aoki
) as well as the major commercial radio stations. To call them exuberant and energetic is an understatement as their fans love them for the way their personalities translate into their productions and DJ sets.
RS: How are you enjoying the Amsterdam Dance Event this year?
Danny: We are loving it, it’s our third year here and we love it every time.
Nick: I am still getting on the clock.
RS: Did you just fly in from New Jersey?
Nick: No, I was in Italy in a food coma for seven days.
Danny: We both do a European vacation and go somewhere for seven days. Nick was in Italy and I was in London for the first time. It was awesome and we came here fully rested although we don’t look it.
RS: What part of Italy were you in?
Nick: I was in five different parts and I am still recovering.
RS: Did you notice how in Rome on every block there is a gelateria?
Nick: Oh yeah, and I hit probably every one of them.
RS: This year has been pretty amazing for you guys, you have put out about 37 tracks with about 25 different people. Does that sound about right?
Danny: Your stats are incredible!
RS: You had 400 Beatport #1s, so let’s start with the Niko The Kid record, how did that come about?
Nick: Niko is a supertalented songwriter and producer from Atlanta. He had this rough verse/chorus song idea that he brought to us and we loved it. It’s the vocalists that you hear on the record, and we wanted to expand it into a full song so we worked with him on it and now it’s on BPM.
Danny: We just got added this week and we found out when we landed here so we are superpsyched.
RS: Way to go. When you are working on a track like that, are you thinking this is for the clubs and this is for radio?
Danny: With that one in particular, we knew that it was more like a crossover kind of thing because we do the strictly club kind of releases on Musical Freedom. With this one, it was just such a catchy song that what we did first was just a radio edit, we didn’t even do the DJ club mix version or anything, and that was the last step of the process. We wanted to make the listening version first and then make the version that DJs would play.
RS: That makes sense. You mentioned Musical Freedom and you have a story about being discovered by Tiesto.
Danny: Yeah. It’s really simple. He reached out to us on Twitter, direct message, and that was it. It was the coolest thing ever because we are both fans of his and have been for 10 years. He was kind of like my introduction to this scene with the In Search Of Sunrise series and all of the work he did with BT back with Elements of Life. He had started supporting a couple of our records and he played an Avicii remix that we did and some other stuff. He was starting to work on his album and reached out to us and told us that he really liked what we were doing and asked if we were going to be in Vegas soon. We were going to be in Vegas the next weekend and it just worked out that we were going to be there the same time and we had lunch with him. That was over a year ago and now we are here.
RS: Awesome. Now you guys are Americans and Americans don’t always have the best reputations with the Europeans. American DJs and producers are often seen as tri-state or cheesy and not as cool as the Europeans. How were you able to break that mold?
Nick: Danny and I came at this from a musician background, I became a DJ later and Danny started DJing when we were in college and started doing our first house parties together. Our roots aren’t in being DJs- it really starts with the song and the songwriting. Not that we don’t care about the craft or anything, but really we are just doing our thing and we aren’t concerned with what anybody thinks; I don’t really give a shit.
Danny: That may be part of what you are alluding to, the DJ culture is so entrenched here and kids are indoctrinated into that and they grow up with this kind of music. Maybe it is the fact that we kind of come at it from a different perspective and more of like a production / music theory background that we are viewed a little differently than the Americans that they call cheesy.
RS: One American that you’ve worked with was Tommie Sunshine for the Fries & Shine project. How did you hook up with him?
Danny: Tommie is great at reaching out and connecting with people. He has done it for 15 years and that is why he can’t walk down the street here without being stopped every five seconds. He reached out to us about three years ago and we went to the studio with him. He is such a cool guy and we connected with him instantly. We did a track together that very first session that we had, and it ended up getting signed to Vicious Recordings in Australia. I was living in Jersey at the time and but soon after I moved to Brooklyn and by pure coincidence I moved literally across the street from Tommie. I showed up and the realtor was showing me places and I thought that it looked familiar. I texted Tommie and asked him what his address was and he said #509 and I told him that I was looking at #507. I moved into that place and very recently just moved, but we were living across the street from one another for about two years so we were working all the time. Tommie was in an interesting place then because he had been around for a long time but he had kind of hit a lull. He had stopped working with Felix, which was really where he got his launching point and he was trying to figure it out. It was just as the EDM thing was taking off.
Nick: It was really before things started getting super crazy in America and he was like “ugh, what is going to be that defines me now from this point on.” It’s not that he needed a new sound but he liked every genre, and so he wanted to brand himself as something specific at that point. He used to jump around quite a bit and he still does and he is super eclectic, but we collectively started working together and it helped us quite a bit. We changed our work flow completely, we used to get lost up our own asses on records and would spend weeks upon weeks on the same thing and Tommie was like, 'nope, we are streamlining this.'
Danny: It was also just an artistic thing helping Tommie find what he wanted to do. He did the same thing for us because he had so much experience and he could warn us about things that didn’t look like a good deal and tell us what we should probably shy away from. We were relatively young, not young by Martin Garrix standards young, but we were kind of naïve and he was very good about opening our eyes to the workings of the industry.
RS: When you guys are in the studio together are you both fighting for the keyboard or how do y’all work together in the studio?
Nick: No, Danny is a freaking key command magician.
Danny: I get so frustrated when Nick is on there, saying Apple-K. We used to go back and forth a lot more.
Nick: We both have home studios, so we get together 2 or 3 times a week, and when we aren’t together we both work independently. We both do productions, but Danny is much more of the synth designer and I do more of the melody and arrangement type stuff. I think those are our strong suits, so we are both involved, but he is definitely the guy on the keyboard and that is not the piano because he clicks everything in on the piano which drives me insane.
Danny: Right, so we both have our things that we think we could do so much faster.
RS: When you guys DJ do you go track by track, or how do you decide who plays what?
Danny: We don’t really do track by track because we find that our sets would end up not making any sense. I’ll be playing one style and then Nick goes another way and then I go a different way. We do mini-sets where we do 4 or 5 tracks at a time, and then it is the next persons turn to decide if they are going to continue it or decide which way to go. We do jump around a lot on our sets, we transition down, we do trap and twerk kind of stuff, or we will go up and do hardstyle. It keeps it fun for us, because it’s like we each get to do our mini thought and then the other person hops on and takes it their direction.
RS: Oh my God, you mean there is more to life than 128 BPM?
Nick: Actually it’s funny you say that because we just finished up an EP, it hasn’t been signed yet and we don’t even have a name for the EP itself. It’s in the very early stages, so unfortunately our fans may not hear it for a while but it’s something that we are very passionate about. The whole concept was we started working on a record and we thought it was a really cool record but we could never release it as Disco Fries because it is just a different style than what people know us for and people would think that we were jumping ship and changing styles. So we ended up having four of these together and decided to package it and put it all out at the same time so that people can digest that it is still our sound, just different variations of our sound. We did one that is a vocal drum and bass tune, we did one that is kind of like an electronic- Muse- theatrical kind of thing, we did a commercial dance track, and we did one with the Warp Tour-like pop-punk bands. They are all vocal-driven, song-based.
Nick: We are pretty psyched about it, it’s something that we are excited about putting out but God knows when it’s going to have a release date. It is something that we are thinking longer term to be a full project. This is kind of like the introduction to it and then we will do the full project and a live show.
RS: You have done a lot of remixes over the years, what has been the most challenging remix that you have done?
Danny: That is a good question; every one is kind of unique. We just did one for Pentatonix that is coming out on RCA. It is a really interesting record because they are mostly an acapella group so there is very minimal instrumentation. We got the stems and it was floor to ceiling vocals so it was a matter of us going in and kind of picking out which parts we wanted to use. Obviously we used the lead vocals, but we found some cool other little weird ad lib-y things that are awesome. You take them as a one shot and sample it and throw it in a synth and then you have a new instrument entirely. There is always something in every mix that is a little bit challenging, but it takes you on a different path than you are used to which is awesome creatively.
RS: You are both in your 20s; if you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18, what would you say to yourself as advice?
Nick: That is a really good question, we met when we were 18 and if we had to go back we would have probably gotten started quicker and gotten the snowball moving down the mountain faster. At that same time, we were in college and getting lost up our own asses.
Danny: Yeah it’s interesting, because there are definitely certain situations that we would have approached very differently in which we wish that we had known better, but at the same time it has worked out really well for us. I think that Nick would agree that we haven’t been the overnight success story and some people are very capable of handling that and that is an amazing thing but I don’t know that we could have. I don’t know how we would handle going from producing in our dorm room to festivals in front of 40,000 people. The fact that we have kind of climbed slowly and built connections slowly but always moving forward has been really cool for us because it has kind of let us take it at our own pace and explore things creatively and artistically. I think in the end it has been maybe more enjoying and satisfying then it would have been if the situation were different.
Nick: Yeah, I think that it is a more rewarding and artistic experience because you are actually getting a moment to watch what is happening while you are doing it. If you just get a big record and you are touring incessantly, you are exhausted and on the road all the time and don’t really have that chance to take in what’s going on and before you know it 10 years flies by and you are like what the hell just happened.
RS: This is a really important question; we both met in a very important, spiritual place that brings men together, the strip club. Thinking about all of your productions and all your remixes, which track do you think is the best track for girls to strip to?
Nick: That’s tough, anything that we do with Fatman Scoop really lends itself to women taking their clothes off. I would say that anything that you have heard with our name on it and his name will likely end up being played in a strip club.
Danny: We did one of the early Flo Rida remixes, not "Ass on the Floor," but another early one.
RS: What would you guys like to say to all of your fans out there?
Nick: Thank you for the support. Ron is an awesome gentleman; you should shout him out on Twitter.
Danny: Stay tuned, we have a lot of stuff coming that hopefully everyone will enjoy as much as we do.