For the past decade, we’ve witnessed the flirting of hip-hop and EDM go from a trend and passing fad to a full on committed relationship and ultimately a marriage that some have spoken their piece or held their peace about. And rising production duo Two Fresh is positively contributing to the ever-growing community that’s undeniably dominating the music scene.
At its core, Two Fresh is Sherwyn and Kendrick Nicholls, twin brothers from Nashville, Tenn. who have been producing experimental, multi-genre music for Gen Y for the past five years. While they commonly refer to their sound as “weird sh*t” and cite Flying Lotus and Dilla as large-scale inspirations, it’s a robust and cutting edge reverb, full crisp synths and bass-heavy hip-hop beats that grab individuals upon first listen. “We break a lot of rules with our music,” says Sherwyn, who goes by Shweez.
Since, the brothers have built a growing fan-base with their electric presence on and off tracks, touring with the likes of Skrillex, Bassnectar, 12th Planet, and Daedelus, and familiarizing the masses at music festivals including Electric Daisy Carnival, SXSW and Detroit Electronic Music Festival, with their effortless blend of hip-hop and dance music.
After turning up Coachella’s Heineken House with a live set, VIBE caught up the party-starters to dive into the origins of their experimental sound, the state of R&B, and what’s next for them.
You guys’ story starts in Nashville, which is basically the capital of country music. So how was growing up in that environment and did that world ever influence your early musical choices?
Kendo: When we were growing up in Nashville, our older brothers listened to Three Six Mafia, so that was our main influence then. We listened to rock and all this crazy sh*t as we got older, too.
Shweez: Back then, the first CD that I had was Green Day’s Dookie, which is crazy.
How did you guys get into producing in particular?
S: I bought a Macbook when I was in 10th grade and found Garage Band on it. We just started making music from there. At first [Kendo] was playing guitar, and I would play beats and bass and stuff like that. It was totally different than what we do now, but just that start of being able to make a full song by yourself was cool.
K: Yeah, that was our introduction. After that, we got Reason, different programs of beat, and just kind of kept running with it.
What were those first kind of beats you guys were making since your influences ranged from rap to rock?
S: They were honestly like some psychedelic, LSD, weird sh*t. It was still hip-hop and urban at the core because we loved J Dilla at the time (and still do), but it wasn’t your normal rap beats. It was more weird songs that we could compose by ourselves.
K: Then eventually the sound evolved into more of things like indie rock like Young Indian and then Toro y Moi. And after listening to stuff like that, it evolved into what we could take from that and make more hip-hop but with a fresh sound also.
There are producers popping up around the country everyday it seems. But what’s a Two Fresh beat sound like today that makes it different from everything we’ve heard?
S: There’s a couple of different sides to our sound, especially because we’re working with two different minds. We make electronic stuff, but at the core it still has that trap vibe. But then on the other side, as far as what we’ll pitch to vocalists and MCs, it’s more like traditional southern rap, to me at least. I feel like we want it to convey no rules because some people think you have to do stuff a certain way. We break a lot of those rules with our music.
K: It’s a lot of rhythm, it’s a lot more melodic and also has a lot of weird sounds. I mean, we started from electronic music, like Flying lotus type stuff. So our sound is ultimately trying to blend everything that we listen to together. It’s quirky and at times acceptable, but there’s those moments where it’s right above one line that you just have to step and just get. And I think that’s what sets us apart, is once we get this stuff into the ears of everybody, they’ll know it’s a Two Fresh beat. So it’s all going to take more tracks but it’s worth it.
Speaking of being worth it, you guys have moved around quite a bit on your journey — Nashville to North Carolina, Denver, and then Los Angeles. I’m wondering why not Atlanta, which a lot of people pursuing music, especially from the south, flock to.
K: At the time actually, when we moved from Nashville, we weren’t really making music for rappers. Atlanta’s the move if you’re trying to go work with rappers, and we were just trying to be something different. So it wasn’t really until we were in Denver that we really wanted to work with a lot of vocalists.
Who was the first artist you worked with and got placement with?
S: The first placement was Mac Miller.
K: He actually came to Nashville and played a show and we just linked with him and played beats. We kept in touch, sent him like four or five beatse, and he just sent us back a full track. It ended up being “The Mourning After” from Macadelic. Right after that we started working with Underachievers, and it went on from there.
Speaking of balancing your sound with hip-hop and melodic vibes, what do you think of R&B’s state right now? You guys do really great remixes of ’90s and 2000’s jams from Total to Missy Elliott, but a lot of purists aren’t welcoming of the fusion and how the genre has evolved with this newer generation.
K: There’s this grey area of R&B at this point, where rarely someone says what it is with a plain, clear-cut point of view . It’s still singing and all of that stuff, but it’s taking a lot from cadence and rhythm.
S: Personally, I think it’s tight. I think Bryson Tiller is the perfect example. Even Tory Lanez is sort of a rapper but he’s still on the R&B side of things. It’s like when Timberland was killing it and he was producing for…
K: Yeah. It’s not there exactly, but R&B now, can be something that people turn up to rather than just be a love song.
It’s crazy because I kind of feel like Timbaland started that wave because he had those really crazy, melodic beats that at the time were innovative and pushing the envelope.
K: Exactly, I think back then, he was the one who was trying to push people to get where we’re at now.
You guys have completed weekend one of your third Coachella experience, what are you looking forward to next?
S: We’re putting out a new EP with this duded Falcons that will hopefully be out in August or September. And then we’re going to tour together. We’re also working on new music for our next EP. We’re stoked.