Signed to Fool’s Gold, production duo Sweet Valley is two brothers (one half is surf-punk act Wavves' Nathan Williams) who have a penchant for Cali weed, old school video games, beer and beach bumming. With two instrumental releases under their belt they are now looking to focus on working with rappers to give their novel, quirky, sample-based beats that finished polish. They caught up with Dazed to talk about the balancing of making punk music with hip-hop, the joys of working with a sibling and why nothing can beat Super Mario Bros.
Dazed Digital: What made you want to work with DaVinci?
Nathan: We had an idea of what we wanted to do – to put this project or whatever together. He had reached out to Joel and I before and said that he liked our beats. The first beat we did with him was back in October but it didn’t really fit the album he had just released (The Mona Lisa Mixtape). He liked the beat so much that he said we should do an EP though so we sent over a couple of beats and he actually said we should do an LP because it sounds really good. That’s kind of how it happened – everything online.
DD: How did you move from surf-punk to hip-hop?
Nathan: Well the majority of the music I listened to in my life has been more hip-hop than anything. Like growing up I listened to Dr Dre and stuff like that and recorded it off of the radio onto cassette tape. That stuff was just as important to me as like the big grunge records. Joel was making a lot of programmed music at the time and he was more versed in Ableton so I basically told him to move from St. Jacobs to LA and to come and live in my house and become an engineer for the project I had in mind, Sweet Valley.
DD: What’s it like working with your brother?
Joel: It’s fun – I kind of sit there and listen to the song over and over and he comes in with a fresh ear and says what parts need to be added. I’m used to working by myself but I like working with other people.
Nathan: It will start out in the morning and I’ll basically pick out a series of records from my collection that I think we should use for samples and we’ll take it from there. And basically we have a studio in the house which is connected to the living room and we kind of just walk back and forth and I can hear while it’s mixing and we can go over ideas and stuff like that.
DD: Has Sweet Valley stopped you from having time to make music with Wavves?
Nathan: No, not at all. Basically, I just work from the minute I get up till I start drinking. So there’s like a 2 hour period where I can get some work done. Haha, no, with Wavves we have been recording our new record and have a new single coming out this month so I stay busy all the time. Yeah this will be the third (Sweet Valley) record this year and I think people may think that because I’m doing stuff this project that it means Wavves is on hold but it definitely doesn’t.
DD: Your sound is strongly sample-based, as heard on 'Eternal Champ' a motif of computer game’s dominates the sound. What’s your favourite console? And game? Do you have an old school taste? Nathan: Yeah, but I like new games – I play a lot of Playstation and Xbox but my favourite game of all time… that’s a hard one. My favourite game – just based on times played in my life would be Super Smash Bros on the Gamecube. My favourite system? That’s a hard one. Probably the Super Nintendo. For sampling I would say the Sega… Sega was Joel’s first word. He used to sit with me when I was in my room playing – that’s all I used to do and that ended up being his first word.
DD: Finally is there anymore material that is going to be released with rappers or a bigger project? I know you recently toured with Killer Mike and GZA.
Nathan: Well I did a track with Big Boi that comes out in 7 days I think. It’ll be on his new record. And Joel and I – I don’t know how much I can say but we will be working with Killer Mike early next year…
Text by Matt Di Salvo