On October 18th, I received the privilege to discuss with Alex and Michael of the Pegboard Nerds about their roots, their inspirations, the EDM community in America, and any advice they could give for aspiring artists in the field. The duo has been touring the nation on the Journey Tour with Seven Lions, Unlike Pluto, and Grum, and their latest release, “BAMF”, has received positive reviews.
Q: “When did you meet each other and started this group?”
Michael – “That would be in 2004. We met in 2004 when Alex won a remix competition for Above & Beyond. And I reached out to him, got his contact from the record label.”
Alex: “Michael was already touring and selling records so that’s how he came across my track. That was my first release ever.”
Q: “When did you start producing?”
Michael: “I started in the late 80’s I was doing some local radio stuff and started getting interested in how music was made; I started saving up for my first drum machine and my first synthesizer and slowly started working with the equipment to figure out how things were done. My first record was in 1992, which was vinyl back then and cassette.”
Alex: “I started out in 96’. I went to this LAN party (computer/video gaming party), it was the largest LAN party in the world, “The Gathering” in the Arena in Norway and I had been listening to demo music and tracker music, which is music made with a certain piece of software that’s crude and basic. And that’s how I got introduced because I wondered how these people made music and someone at “The Gathering” introduced me to it.”
Q: “How did you create the name ‘Pegboard Nerds’?”
Michael: “There was more desperation than inspiration.
Alex: “We were just sitting in the studio and all the cool names we thought of were taken.”
Michael: “Then Alex had an anagram generator on his laptop and we just put in our last name and Pegboard Nerds came out and so it’s an anagram of our last names; we just kept coming back to it.”
Q: “What is your main inspiration for your music?”
Alex: “Anything and everything. Some favorite producers, which always deliver quality tracks like Knife Party, Skrillex, Noisia, the top producers and just it could be anything. It doesn’t have to be music either. “
Michael: “It could be sounds in the streets.”
Alex: “You could be messing around, not trying to make anything and then something jumps out at you and you’re just like ‘Whoa! I’ll take that!’ and then before you know it, it’s a song. So just kind of rolling with it.”
Q: “What do you think of the American EDM community?”
Michael: “I think it’s great! It’s fast growing and we’ve kind of seen this kind of development before, because in Europe there was this kind of same explosive behavior and you know, seeing that again is obviously a good thing. I feel because the US is one country, you are a bit more united-“
Alex: “It’s in their name! United ravers of America!”
Michael: “It’s more united than in Europe because we have a lot of small countries, and there wasn’t a community across the borders. It started to grow, but not until the internet had actually came or rather when it was public and common. And I think over here is also more culture than it is in Europe and everything here is like branding in clothes, hair, fashion and it’s kind of a fashion statement. I dont think we have that in Europe that much. I mean glow sticks and the whole gear and kandi, we had that, but it’s a thing of the past. ”
Alex: “It’s a new phase here and it’s not like old music getting popular here, it’s just the next phase of that kind of music that was big in Europe getting big here.
Michael: “America has always been the epicenter of music when it comes to rap, rock, it’s America, and now it’s EDM”
Alex: “Yeah once it caught on, it just took off. Yeah EDM is actually an American term. The term came after it grew here.”
Michael: “Yeah EDM is kind of an American thing. It was just dance, not electronic dance music. People need a new thing to love. It’s like the kids need something to identify with.”
Alex: “It’s not as explosive anymore here like it sort of plateaued but not in a bad way, more in that it found its place.”
Q: “When did you come to America and decide where this was where you wanted to produce your music?”
Michael: “Well we didn’t really decide. We got lucky.”
Alex: “We just got to go here when we started Pegboard Nerds. I think that was when we focused our efforts into something that was our own. It used to be more scattered and not as focused as it should of been, but the moment we focused, things started happening.”
Michael: “It was also a timing thing too, which is the unknown factor. That’s the only thing you cannot count on, because you never know when is the right time. The right time is when people are ready for you, and you never know when people are ready for change?”
Q: “Any tips for aspiring producers or artists?”
Alex: “Well, people ask us that from time to time, and I think when people ask they want some very specific; but it’s not about that, it’s about being committed, staying focused, and being ready to put in a lot of time, like more than.. you should probably not think about how much time you have to put in! Most people aren’t prepared to put in the time it takes for them to develop their own skill and taste. Well everyone has taste, everyone likes music and you know what you like, so you have a sense of taste. But when you start making music that’s a different thing and it’s easy to get frustrated when you can’t seem to satisfy your own taste with your music. So I guess being patient, putting in the time, experiment and just make music. I read this phrase that says, ‘Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.’”
Michael: “Don’t be afraid to fail.
We would like to thank the Pegboard Nerds and their manager Alec Udell for agreeing to this interview and for all the great discussions that took place. We wish you all well as you continue your journey, on the Journey Tour! – @_basskitten
Featured Photo – @pegboardnerds on Instagram (@whereslizzy)
Interview Photo – @shaneciora
I'm a college student majoring in business with a love for EDM music and festivals. I live for the vibes, the kind souls, and the heaviest bass music I can get!