Interview: Culprit’s Electro Duo Climbers Talk Jay-Z, ‘Criminal Love’

Mexicali electro duo, Climbers (aka Jay Blakk and Kiko Deal) reached a milestone recently with the recent release on Culprit Records, “Criminal Love.” Though they’ve only been in the biz for a year, already they have begun to catch the ears and attention of such underground acts including Art Department and James Teej. As they continue their ‘climb’ to the top, the high school buds talk with VIBE to discuss their chance exposure to EDM, concert rituals, and thoughts on Jay-Z versus Kanye:

You guys have been have friends in high school, but just a year ago decided to form a dance-based duo. How did that decision come about?
Jay Blakk (JB): It was about two years ago…We started to talk about it at my house in Mexicali, while we were talking about the decision to leave music behind and focus on our careers as lawyers, but then I told Kiko that we should just make one track to have a laugh when we grow older. So I came to his house with no expectations but to have fun and now we are here so it’s been a blessing all this ride.

Your sound stems from classic house and old school vocal stylings. Can you list some artists you guys looked to for inspiration, both growing up and currently?
JB: Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley, Dr.Dre, and now Radiohead, Bon Iver, Tyler the Creator and Foo Fighters.

You guys come from different musical backgrounds. Can you elaborate on that further and describe how coming from two different styles has enhanced your current craft?
Kiko Deal (KD): Well actually it’s very important for us that we have these different styles because we respect each other’s taste on music and the way we work around a track we write. We are just two friends trying to always bring something special to the table and elaborate music is a lot of fun because of this. I come from the rock background, I played in a band and Jay was always into hip-hop and soul, so we mash those things up when we work.

You’ve had quite the summer so far with a European tour. Have any of the cities/crowds stuck out to you so far? Which one has been your most favorite and why?
JB: I mean, this last tour in Europe was so special but also really demanding. We got the opportunity to finally experience Sonar, and let me tell you it was one of a kind experience, especially the Culprit vs Leftroom Party where we met with so many friends, and everybody – from the DJs to the crowd – was in the right mood from start to finish. Also, it was great to finally play in Ibiza like this beautiful place called Destino Pacha, and Romania in Bucharest along with Solomun was a gig to remember. I mean overall was a great tour.

Do you guys have any special/interesting rituals before you do a show?
KD: Before going to the gig we try to stay positive and grateful because we are there, and then have at least a couple of beers and some shots to loosen up.

What would be one surprising fact about each of you that fans don’t know yet?
JB: I think can be that im a really amazing Super Nintendo Mario Kart player.
KD: I love ASMR.

Going back to the music, tell us about your new track “Criminal Love.” What’s so criminal about it?
JB: That track is so special because of everything that happened before doing it, like meeting the vocalist at an after party and she approached us because she liked our last Culprit single, “2 Come Backl,” and then started to play the violin over this instrumental track – it was totally amazing. The track means a lot to us and I think to a lot of DJs. I remember one day reading about Seth Troxler losing his relationship with his fiance, and how he loved techno but techno took his love away, like a thief – so that’s the “criminal” part. When you fly away from home you feel like your love is fading away, and you regret that all the nights and days will not be the same because you’re in a different place from your love. Thats a criminal love, like Romeo and Juliet.

What are your thoughts on the other new albums that have come out, such as Jay Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ or Kanye’s ‘Yeezus.’ If you had to choose between the two, which one would you want to collaborate with?
KD: I think we would go with Jay-Z because it would be great to see the whole spectrum of ideas he could bring to the table, but [still] staying true to his roots.

And what’s the next mountain/challenge the ‘climbers’ are going to conquer next?
JB: I think one of the biggest challenges of being on the road is to balance gigs and making music so that’s the new challenge, but we look forward to climb that mountain and see whats on the other side of that.