If you’re in or around the Philly, Baltimore, NY or NJ areas this weekend, the Borgata is the place to be. Producers and DJ trio Cash Cash will (once again) be bringing the party to Club Mixx in Atlantic City tonight (Saturday) at 10 p.m. If it’s true that history repeats itself, this is definitely not a show you want to miss.
The Roseland, New Jersey-native EDM group – comprised of JP Makhlouf, Alex Makhlouf and Sam Frisch – is best known for their hit song, “Take Me Home” featuring Bebe Rexha on vocals. The song ended up at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, and No. 57 overall on the Hot 100 chart. Other past songs of notice have featured everyone from Christina Perri to Capital Cities to John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. But that’s not all they have to offer – their latest single, “Surrender” is incessantly catchy and has been making waves in the EDM community.
But before they took on AC this weekend, I had the opportunity to talk to JP Makhlouf of Cash Cash and hear more about their group behind the scenes, the “Surrender” music video and what Cash Cash has in store for us for 2015.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: This is actually a very exciting interview for me because I saw you at Firefly this past summer, and your show was really the moment when I fell in love with electronic music. How was that festival for you?
- That’s amazing! Yeah that was one of the best festivals we’ve ever played…ever. It was insane. One of the biggest crowds we’ve ever played for.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: So I hear your trio got its start quite early on, as early as 5th grade talent shows? I read you played covers for your classmates – what were some of your favorite covers to play during your “early days”?
Well that was when we were just picking up instruments for the first time, but a little bit of everything. We played some Jimi Hendricks, Beatles, etc. We just loved all music.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You guys started as a band more in the pop/electronic arena, and to this day still tie elements into your songs like catchy hooks. When you set out to make a new song now, how has your creative process changed from before? Any different sources of inspiration?
- I think the basic songwriting has stayed the same. We start the music very simple, whether we’re just messing around with the guitar or on the piano, we always just start with a good lyric, a good concept or just humming melodies on a little toy piano in the studio. So we definitely keep it very musical, but then putting all the electronic stuff in, the bells and whistles is always a lot of fun.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What do you consider to be the hardest part of the creative process for you?
- I think the hardest part is constantly judging ourselves and trying to raise the bar. As we’re making new things we’ll compare it to our other stuff a lot, sometimes unconsciously, as well as to other music. It starts to get a little crazy sometimes, so it’s cool to just get in the zone, not think about anything and just focus on the song we’re working on. It can be tough to do that sometimes, though.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Would you say you guys are open to constructive criticism from one another?
- Haha…you could say that. I think for us, we’ve known each other for so long that we know how to deal with each other’s criticism. Two of us are brothers and we’ve known Sam since elementary school, so we know how to deal with things when they get tough. Obviously we fight, we’re all like brothers. We get rowdy, but then that’s how the best stuff is made. That’s how we progress; we constantly push each other and end up going above and beyond all our individual capabilities. That’s the cool thing about being a trio.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Any pet peeves that get on each other’s nerves?
- Not too many. We’re all very similar people. We grew up in the same area, Sam grew up right down the street from me, we have similar tastes, all eat the same foods – we even have some of the same favorite foods! We’re three very similar people haha, it’s weird sometimes.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Guess that makes sense why you’ve had such a great dynamic for so long!
- We do have three very, very different personalities. We like all the same stuff, but there are certain things. Like Sam’s very neutral, I’m very…I can be intense, I get hyped up about things! Sometimes Alex can be too, so Sam kind of balances the two of us out.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You guys do seem very complementary to one another and will mix it up who’s on tour and who’s in the studio. Where do you personally feel most in your element?
- I really like being on the road. That’s why most of the times it’ll just be me and Sam on the road and Alex will stay back in the studio because there’s always something to work on – whether it’s a remix, edits, mash-ups or even just working on a mix. We always like to keep one of us back home. Sometimes we’ll also split up where Alex and Sam will go out and I’ll stay back. Like Alex and Sam are going to Asia and I’m going to do some other stuff in the studio. So it’s cool. I personally like doing live shows the best because there’s just an energy. I’m a hyped up dude and I just love being in the club or at the festivals.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Yeah we definitely can feel it when you guys are performing! You have some big shows coming up, like an appearance at Ultra Music Festival. What else does Cash Cash have in the horizon for 2015?
We’ve got a good year planned! We’ve got some festivals obviously in the works, Ultra is huge because it’s just one of those staple shows. That whole week we’re going to be doing a bunch of different cool parties down there – a bunch of the pool parties and different events for different people. But I’m really excited about our residencies. We just renewed our residency in Vegas in Marquee; we were there all of last year and had such a good time with it, we just knew we had to re-up it this year. Same for Atlantic City, we have a residency at Borgata, Club Mixx and that’s great because it’s right in our home state where we get to invite all of our friends out. It’s always a good time.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What’s it like performing in your home state for you?
- There’s something to be said about playing in NY or NJ for us. NY and NJ both kind of feel like home town shows, so even when we’re in the city it’s like all of our friends from NJ are there. There’s just something about NY, those are the streets we grew up kind of hustling our music on, trying to get things moving, playing shows in the city. It means a lot to us when we’re playing those shows and we have people singing along or just coming up to us, hanging, talking and taking photos, whatever it might be. It means a lot to us.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Yeah that’s awesome. Specific to songs what do you have in the works for 2015?
Well our newest single is out now, “Surrender,” and we just did the video for that one, which is really cool. We’re definitely trying to step it up in the video department. We got pretty edgy with it, it’s cool it’s a good balance between weird and normal. It ties into the song a lot if you kind of pay attention to it. So I was really happy with that. We’ve also got this awesome collaboration with our homies Tritonal that’ll be coming out in a couple of months. It’s a really cool song, they’re great dudes.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What was your favorite part of working on "Surrender" in general?
- I think it was filming the video because it was just so different from what we knew. It wasn’t just filming a regular stock video, we got to do fun stuff. From actually being on set to all the post-filming stuff, with the edits and all the animation. They did some awesome stuff with the tattoos and just weirdness! It was cool to be a part of it because we were also giving our ideas the whole time, what we liked and what we didn’t like, what we wanted more of.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Cool, it’s an awesome video! (See their video here.) Any pre- or post-show rituals?
- At the shows, we like to drink while we’re playing (we don’t like to get hammered until afterwards!). We’ll crack a couple of beers and some Red Bull, sometimes we’ll do vodka, whiskey, depends on how we’re feeling. We just like to be loose. The thing about us is we don’t like to go up there and feel like we’re performing for a crowd of people especially in a club, we like to make it feel like we’re just partying with everybody. I think people can kind of tell when they watch us – we’ll be drinking when they’re drinking, we’re jumping around like they’re jumping around. We’re feeling the music the same way they are. Just hanging out, partying!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: We can definitely feel that at your shows! What about any advice for aspiring DJs?
It’s tough, it’s a tough competitive world out there. There’s a lot of DJs and a lot of good music out there. It’s sometimes hard to get noticed because there’s just so much. How do you drive people to your SoundCloud when there’s already so much music on there? You kind of just have to stick with it. I’m a strong believer that the cream always rises to the top, you can make your own luck if you work hard enough, you work smart enough. And sometimes it’s not about working really hard, it’s about making sure you have an overall goal in mind and are working towards it, setting little goals in between. We’re a perfect example of making it happen with a lot of bumps along the way, but we just kept with it and made it happen.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Alright, last question. You have such a funny story about how you landed on your name after the issues with your former one, so I have to ask – what do you use more of: cash or credit?
- Hmm I would actually have to say…credit. Well not credit, we actually put a lot of stuff on our debit cards. So more debit. It’s easier for taxes at the end of the year!
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Well thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me! Can’t wait to see you guys this weekend at the Borgata!
- Sounds good! It’s going to be a fun show. It’s actually my buddy from high school’s bachelor party too, so it’s gonna be pretty wild down there! He wanted to do it while we were in town so we invited all of our friends out. Should be a really fun time. (Shout-out to Craig: Congrats!)
So go get your tickets here and join me in partying with Cash Cash (or maybe I should say Debit Debit) at Club Mixx in AC tonight!
AUTHOR CREDIT: RACHEL NOVOSAD