Sam O.B. and Miles Francis purvey a rare sort of pop music, one as whirringly complex as it is delightfully sweet. Though the two New York-based musicians deviate stylistically—Sam O.B.'s atmospheric tropicalia luxuriates in a loungy lavishness, while Francis' off-kilter avant-pop bounces with a syncopated ecstasy—their R&B-inflected sounds both sashay with a catchy confidence. Ahead of their performances on July 15 at Sunnyvale, the two like-minded artists took a moment to remix each other's biggest songs for us here at AdHoc and talk through their respective processes. We are really psyched to premiere their remixes, a playlist of all the tracks included can be found here.
Sam O.B.: What was the inspiration behind "You're A Star" (specifically lyrically)?
Miles Francis: The music came first with "You're a Star": I recorded the tom-toms for 4 minutes straight and built the song on top of it. The lyrics are sung from two angles: encouraged and pessimistic. I tried to articulate the crazy balancing act of being an artist right now. We commit our lives to music, but we also commit to getting our art out there no matter what, to working every day to become more established and well-known—all while retaining the genuine inspiration and motivation to create our songs in the first place. When the moment comes that you are "chosen," and the light is shining on you, you better be ready for it—because it turns out that every next step opens up a hundred more steps after it. All of this is to say: keep your head down and keep going, you're a star no matter what. That's the encouraging side of the song. If you focus so much on where you stand, where you're going, and seeking fleeting validation, it completely takes you away from what you're doing. That's where I wrote the song from, and the circular opening sentence inspired the rest of the lyrics: "All the things that I want to do with me hold back from doing the things I wanna do."
Sam: I love the music video for "You're A Star" too - what influenced the visuals?
Miles: I made the video with filmmaker Charles Billot. I usually give out candy at the end of performing this song, so he took that and ran with it. We wanted the video to represent falling into a deep and dark hunger for validation - and eating candy articulated it perfectly. Tastes sweet, gets you high, and then you crash. I start in my nice white suit, ready - and I end up face down in the ocean.
Miles: How did you approach the remix for "You're a Star"?
Sam: Recently I've been really influenced by old extended disco dubs and 12" dance mixes so I sort of took that approach with this one. I love how those remixes essentially extend and accentuate the groove of a song but still manage to sprinkle in motifs from the original - so my version of that was to repeat the phrase "rise up" which definitely commands people to physically activate. Instead of having it build slowly like the original, it sorta launches right into a 4 on the floor beat which carries throughout the song and hopefully makes it fun for the dance floor.
Miles: Definitely! Your remix gave the song a consistency that I love. So where are you coming from lyrically on "Revolve"? I hear a positive message, but coming from a vulnerable place.
Sam: It's funny because "Revolve" is definitely the oldest song on my record and has gone through so many iterations (it actually exists in a very early form as the beat in this video). Once I sorted out the instrumental/arrangement side of the song (with some help from Jensen Sportag) the lyrics came about in a free-form manner. The message is essentially about waking up people from their apathetic slumber, which feels so prevalent in todays climate. I think if anything they're vulnerable because I'm speaking to myself as well; I'm guilty of too and not sure if I'm necessarily the shining, exemplary individual suited to deliver the message. With most humans, if it's not affecting us directly, we can sort of drift along absorbed in our own problems while ignoring the fact that we all make up a much bigger picture collectively and just sending out a tweet or sharing a link is not going to solve it alone...it's a start but we still "have a lot to do."
What was your approach in reworking "Revolve"?
Miles: I wanted to take the lyrics out of context and explore their dark side. Whether you intended it or not, I feel like that darkness is in there! I made a more brooding beat underneath that feels like it's trying to catch up with itself, and recorded some live bass that I left pretty raw and untouched to keep it frantic. The original song has a lot of beautiful and moving harmony throughout it already, so I didn't feel the need to re-harmonize or anything like that - I just opted to spin it rhythmically and see how it affected the lyrics' positive message.