Duke & Jones are quickly establishing themselves as one of the most forward-thinking acts in the industry. Their unique sound has helped them garner millions of global listeners – including a loyal TikTok following who are hooked to their hilarious autotune videos – and support from some of the biggest artists in the world. Following the mega success of the viral hit ‘Jiggle Jiggle’, where they collaborated with Louis Theroux, Amelia Dimoldenberg and Jason Derulo, Duke and Jones hit number 49 on the Billboard Emerging Artists Chart.
The Art of Music
The duo began their journey into music through music tech in school. What was first seen as a bit of friendly competition, very quickly turned into a merger, where the duo found themselves sharing their music and their newly developed techniques in producing. “At the back of our minds the whole time I think we always wanted to “go pro”, but I think it was quite important that we spent a long time just learning and having fun without having much pressure”. The duo started taking it seriously in 2019, when Isaac had finished university. A point he explains they had each had 10 years of practice at producing, so it felt a lot more natural to go full time.
The duo describe the current iteration of the Duke & Jones sound as nostalgia-infused, euphoric house, but the standout theme they have kept across all their work is to try and do as much as possible with the fewest amount of sounds. Pointing to State of Mind as a good example of this – the drop is extremely sparse, essentially made up of simple drums, one bass sound, and vocal chops.
“…the drop of State of Mind is an evolution of the Duke & Jones ‘less is more’ concept in terms of the drop. The break was inspired by the euphoric progressive house tunes we grew up loving, by people like Eric Prydz and the Swedish House Mafia”. [Luke]
The duo wanted to pair this kind of vibe with a juicy minimal drop. Working with Marlhy on their latest track, “absolute dream to work with”, the duo found they were able to collaborate perfectly due to the way in which Marlhy’s vocals were structured perfectly for a slow-building house tune. Luke goes onto explain how Marlhy has a very instinctive understanding of how to use melody and timing to underscore key moments in the song where the instrumentation changes – which is especially important for house music, where the sense of build and release needs to be extremely overt.
For the Fans
The duo highlight they want their songs to provide their fans with music that gives them the freedom to dance, whilst offering a positive vibe. Although admittingly, they are aware that every song is not going to be to everyone’s taste, and music will always connect with people in a very individual way.
They reference their manager Jake as an incredibly influential figure in their success. An individual who always pushes them to work hard and try new things. Further inspired by their friends in the industry, and their families who have given the duo time, space, and support they have needed to grow their careers.
Both artists point to one of their biggest influences starting out as producers to be Sub Focus. A point they reference as being very true to this day. An artist who has had an incredible ear for melodies and great range in his productions. “We have a lot of admiration for producers like DJ Snake and Skrillex because they have always produced such a wide range of music, both for themselves and others, that they have avoided being pigeon-holed. Skrillex can release a pop song with Justin Bieber one month, some avant-garde hyperpop the next, some club anthems after that, and nobody bats an eyelid”.
The artists highlight the importance of making and releasing the music you feel like making, because this keeps creativity flowing and morale up. Further pointing out that if you feel you have to force yourself into making certain types of music because that’s what you are known for making; the inspiration won’t come, which can lead to a very tough slog to be freely creative, and produce a piece of art.
Working through Anxieties
Luke explains that they have both suffered from anxiety and had therapy to overcome it. “In one case, it was brought on by external factors and also the pressure of making music work in the earlier years. In the other case, it was more brought on by lockdown, and dealing with a real lack of drive and some personal problems”. He goes onto explain how it is a constant work in progress to handle it, but it’s important to respect the anxiety and treat yourself with compassion, rather than trying to force yourself through it. He goes onto highlight that from this angle, it is really nice to be in a duo when you’re having an off day, and have somebody else to remind you that you’re doing fine!
For the duo, the art of creating a career in music is to be patient! “It very, very rarely happens overnight and it could take years before you get anything close to a break. It helps to have some confidence in what you make, but, after (rightfully!) basking in the glory of your new banger for a few days, it’s also important to be honest with yourself when comparing your music to professional tracks, and to be able to take constructive criticism”. They explain that you will only be able to improve if you’re able to notice and reflect on issues with your own music. That you should ALWAYS be polite too – new connections and opportunities can come from surprising places. Doubling down on the point that you never know which person you meet might turn round a year down the line and ask you to help with a project, so it’s good to be nice to your whole network, both friends and friends of friends.
The duo are currently putting the finishing touches on lots of new music. With plans in place to visit the US in 2023; which the boys highlight they are very excited to head stateside and work with lots of people over there too.#watchthisspace