CUFF LYNX – Not Your Average Electronic Duo

Written by on April 1, 2015

Jordan Hatzialexiou (L) and Matt Ogle (R) make up CUFF LYNX, based out of Seattle. I had the opportunity to chat with the two of them as well as their manager, Austin Santiago, at Treefort Festival last week in Boise, Idaho. Their heavily electronic and synth-saturated sound makes it hard to stand still while enjoying one of their live shows. Read on to learn more about the story behind their name, Jesus poses, and Sweet Sixteen stories.

KPSU: Would you like to start by introducing yourself and what you do in the group?

Jordan: Sure; we’re both CUFF LYNX; I’m Jordan. And this is Matt over here.

Matt: I can introduce myself! I’m Matt.

Austin:  And I’m Austin; I’m their manager and currently their tour manager.

Jordan: Yeah, we make some sort of music that’s in between robbing a bank and disco from space. So maybe like robbing a bank but in slow motion.

Matt: Slow motion bank-robbing music.

Jordan: Yeah. We’ve been doing this for about three years now. We both produce the music, electronic music, like synthesizers and drum machines and bass guitar.

Matt: I do synth and bass and controller stuff live. And then Jordan does most of the polyphonic synth, like chords and stuff, and controls the analog gun machine.

KPSU: How did the duo form? Because I know you both were working on music separately, so did you just start collaborating one day then eventually decide to work together permanently, or how did it come about?

Jordan: Well, Matt and I knew each other way back when we went to Western Washington University. We were dorm mates, and I met him pretty quick and I remember thinking, ‘Man, this guy’s super good at the guitar.’ And he was in a band called Learning Team and I was kind of producing more industrial influenced music. But after a few years, we started DJing house parties, and that kind of evolved into us doing that more often. And then one day I was DJing a party and Matt was there and he came up to me, like, ‘Oh, cool, can I try?’ I had just bought this new DJ controller. And I said sure. Then he went on for an hour or two without, like, any mistakes and I thought, ‘Woah, we should do this together.’ So, yeah, then after that we started to take things seriously. And that was back in 2012.

Matt: And then, yeah, probably about a year and a half later, we were learning a lot about the equipment and we put out an EP with all the music we had that didn’t suck in that year a nd a half span and just kept going from there. And we made the live show.

KPSU: Why do you spell your name the way that you do? Is it just to be different, or is there a meaning behind the way you spell it?

Jordan: There are a few reasons.

Matt: Alright, so, my reasoning behind it was that we kind of were playing new disco and kind of electric disco stuff, and that was in the prime of the grimy dubstep bullshit era. So everyone was making these names like ‘Slimebass!’ or ‘Fuck Your Mom’, just these very brutal names. So we wanted to go for a more sophisticated side of it, so we thought of CUFF LYNX, wear them with a tuxedo, but there’s the party side of it – ‘LYNX’ – which is that animal instinct within the party aspect. I mean, mostly it just sounded cool and we didn’t wanna spell it the same way.

Jordan: There’s already a Cufflinks. The Cufflinks. L-I-N-K-S. And plus, with that, L-Y-N-X, I think it just looks cooler when you see it like that. And also, if someone were to search us online, there’s like, a PVC company called Cufflinks.

Matt: There’s a jewelry company called Cufflinks!

Jordan: So we’re battling getting all the social media names where they are.

Matt: #Cufflinks is half pictures of us and half pictures of fancy jewelry.

KPSU: Sure, sure, I know CHVRCHES didn’t want to have that problem with the online searching as well so they just swapped out the U for the V.

Austin: Those V’s are so hot right now.

KPSU: They really are! Alvvays.

Jordan: We have a friend who’s in a band called Nvde. So anytime anyone searches ‘Nude’, it’s like ‘I like that music!’ then, ‘Oh God, no!’

KPSU: What inspired you two to get into electronic music? Was there a time when there was a spark and it was like, “I love this,” or was it more gradual?

Jordan: Let’s see…I was really into the Wax Trax records, a lot of 80’s industrial music. So I remember seeing this one live video of this one band I liked and I said, ‘That’s it; I need to buy a drum machine right away; screw these guitars; it’s all drum machines and sequencing.’ And then I studied abroad for a year and I came back and the first two records I head were Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun and Cross by Justice. I just remember hearing Cross and it was like Daft Punk but turned to 11, you know? So yeah, whenever I went into music stores I always gravitated towards synthesizers and drum machines too.

Matt: I was very different. I was in bands all through high school. See, I grew up in Idaho, here in Boise. I was really into the house show scene here. I was in a band that was just guitar, bass, and drums. So I had played guitar since I was about 9, so my first experience making music on a computer was making shitty hip-hop beats that my friends and I would make the dumbest raps over just for fun. We thought it was hilarious. That was my first experience chopping up samples and layering them together and make anything different. I was actually super inspired originally by Girl Talk. I thought Girl Talk was the shit; I was such a huge Girl Talk fan. I thought it was amazing to look at how many different samples were in one of his songs and see that he had, you know, over a hundred. So I started with definitely the kind of sampling aspect. I was just using Garage Band but then Jordan introduced me to Reason, which gave me a little more of a look into sound design and using oscillators and synthesizers and stuff. It’s a really awesome program for getting into that. And then Jordan bought an actual, physical keyboard with faders and all that and it was the coolest shit I had ever seen. So that kind of transitioned; I was in a band all through college as well that he helped record and doing sound stuff and as that kind of faded out, this kind of faded in. And it was a really nice transition from leaving off and then starting a new project. We kind of took the fanbase from that, of our friends, and moved them onto CUFF LYNX.

CUFF LYNX performing at the Rose Room in Boise, ID, on 3.27 as a part of Treefort Festival.

KPSU: I read on your Facebook page that your music is, quote, ‘recreated live and unique to every performance’. So does that mean you guys just wing it every time, or does each song have a live version that is different from its live counterpart?

Jordan: No, it doesn’t mean that we’re just jamming out and you’re just gonna hear a bunch of jam sessions. For me, it means that when we start working on our live set, we have our studio versions of the tracks, and then we take all the individual stems from all those tracks and throw it all on the table and we’ll say, ‘Oh, the drums from this song work really well with this track,’ or, ‘The vocals here happen to work here.’ And then we’ll just mix them all up. So that way, if someone knows our recordings, they can expect it will be different live because it’s not a carbon copy. We don’t want people to say, ‘I would rather just listen to this song on a SoundCloud page rather than see it live.’ So we have that and then we play live instruments on top of it. So the only way you can hear the actual live version of the songs is to come to our shows.

Matt: Yeah, there’s a few number of people who would actually recognize some of our distinct samples that we use, so we’ll reference those in other songs. Or maybe we’ll reference one of those before the song even comes in. Just to give it that, like, ‘Oh, I recognize this,’ even if it’s a new song.

Jordan: Well yeah, I think that’s playing off the feeling of, when you see your favorite band live, and they start the loop of a song, you’re so excited, like, ‘Ahh, what is this song, I know this song!’ And then it hits you finally and so, we’re trying to keep that guessing factor always there.

KPSU: What’s your favorite song of your own music and why?

Jordan: Our new song.

Matt: Yeah. We’re about to put out a single that is above and beyond everything we’ve done.

Jordan: Well, it’s our first original in over two years. After we did our EP we just started remixing other bands. We would just play with other bands and ask if we could remix their music. It was super fun. So we remixed this one band called The Flavr Blue, and actually on our new single, it’s called Prowl, and it’s featuring one of the members of The Flavr Blue, Parker Blue.

Matt: Yeah, the live set was rearranging, bumping up. Tomorrow [3.27] is the debut of us playing the song live. When we played the Doug  Fir, we played a version of it without any vocals but it wasn’t really solidified yet. So now that it’s solidified, we’re just waiting to release it.

Jordan: In other words, it’s just good to test run songs live. Like, ‘Is this gonna make people dance?’

KPSU: How do you hope people resonate with your music when they hear it? What do you want people to feel or take away from it?

Jordan: However they wanna feel. If you wanna dance, dance, if you just wanna witness it, witness it. Like I’ll be watching one of my favorite bands and I’m just standing there then some guy will come up to me and grab my shoulders and say, ‘Hey man, why aren’t you dancing!!! Have a good time!!!’ I’m like, ‘Dude. I am having a good time.’ So, however they wanna take it in.

Matt: Yeah, when it comes to dance music, immediately people throw groups into different categories and stuff. And I’m not trying to say, ‘Yeah, we’re uncategorized,’ kind of bullshit. You can throw us in a group. But one of the big differences going on is that with electronic music you can take your crowd for granted and treat them like idiots, kind of. There’s no other genre where, when you’re playing for a big crowd, you can expect people to be on drugs and feel happy. Who cares what’s going on then. So I think what’s different about us when we produce and do our live show is that we take our crowd very seriously and we respect them enough to give them a good show and make sure they know that we’re trying to do something that we like to do that might impress them. Or it might not impress them. But we’re not gonna bullshit when it comes to that kind of stuff. It’s just too easy to do with electronic music. You can just press play and everyone just dances and stuff.

Jordan: You won’t see us doing any Jesus poses or anything.

Matt: Yeah, ‘Let’s give it up for us!’ None of that. We’ve all been in the crowd.

Jordan: From my point of view, we’re trying to make people dance and have a good time, just like when I go to concerts. But at the same time, I’m trying to impress music producers and the like if they were in the audience. So we’re trying to get everyone without spoonfeeding it to them.

KPSU:  What’s in the works for the rest of 2015? Touring? You’ll release your single; will you release an EP along with it?

Jordan: It’s hard to say what the next release is, but the single is definitely part of it. We’re working on a couple more tracks that will be added to that as well. The fun part is, whenever we create a new song, it’s treated like ammunition for our live set. A lot of times, before shows, we change up how a song sounds. For the rest of 2015, I can’t really comment on any future gigs at the moment; I’m not sure, but I’m sure they’ll be there. We just moved to Seattle from Bellingham so we’re just going to continue doing what we’re doing. Every time we make a song, I wanna delete our whole back catalog.

Matt: Every time we make a song, it makes us want to revamp everything else. We find a new technique of production or mastering and we’re like, ‘We need to throw this on everything!’ And all of a sudden, everything sounds cool again! And then we’ll come up with something else and everything sounds like shit. But then we’ll throw something else in there and everything sounds cool again! So it’s a long, never-ending process. CUFF LYNX is also a project for a lot of our friends to be creative with. So we’ll have our friends who are artists do posters for us and our friends who are into visual design collaborate and do visual shows with us. So we’re trying to make it an outlet for anyone who is interested to collaborate with. Especially with our remixes and stuff. We’ll send out our stems to anyone who wants them and have them bounce it back. So just trying to create a community around it.

KPSU: Who are you guys excited to see this week at Treefort? I’ve heard it’s your first full weekend here, which is exciting.

Matt: Yeah, I’ve come every year but I’ve never been able to stay all five days.

Jordan: Yes, and I’m the Treefort virgin! First time. As far as who we’re excited to see…Dr. Freeeesch! I’m super stoked to see him. He owns a record label that produces a lot of music we’re really inspired by. Who else…Magic Sword, Street Fever…

Matt: Magic Sword and Street Fever are homeboys. They’re pretty inspirational to us and we’ve also done a little mini-tour with Magic Sword, and that was really fun. They’re really awesome dudes. Wild Throne are some homies from Bellingham that I’ve seen once or twice but they just released a new single and they’re amazingly fun.

Jordan: Who did we see last night? We saw Geographer last night, Wild Ones…they were great.

Matt: Foul Weather was sick. Logan Hyde is a boss.

Jordan: Star Warrior, Beat Connection, !!!, a bunch of people.

Austin: It’s a good mix of hangin’ with the homies and checkin’ out bands. Because acts like Logan, we’re homies with those guys, and then Beat Connection, and Shaprece, and Budo.

Matt: It’s pretty much just like friends get to hang out at this awesome festival. Awesome hospitality here.

KPSU: Alright, tell me about your Sweet Sixteen or your favorite birthday you’ve had.

Jordan: Okay, I’ll tell you…can I tell you not my favorite birthday but my most life-changing birthday?

KPSU: Sure.

Jordan: I don’t…I’m not really a birthday person. But when I was in third grade, I grew up in the Midwest, and my mom told me, “If you don’t rake the leaves, you’re never getting a birthday again.’ And I was, like, ‘FINE.’ And I just went back inside. And I never had a birthday party again.

KPSU: That explains why you’re not big on birthdays!

Austin: That’s why you’re such a dick!

Jordan: Well, no, I just feel weird being like, ‘It’s my birthday! Let’s have a day celebrating me!’

Matt: ‘Let’s give it up for meee!’

Austin: So how’d you feel when I booked you for my birthday?

Jordan: I mean, I honestly felt bummed that we couldn’t play it. We were playing here in Idaho actually.

Matt: Well that kind of tops it. I can’t say anything after that story.

KPSU: What’d you do for your Sweet Sixteen, Matt? Do you remember?

Matt: Uh…I think I turned 16 in Chicago, actually. At Lollapalooza. My birthday party consisted of me riding in the back of my friend’s dad’s minivan wearing a party hat. And we were going to a venue and I said, ‘I’m not wearing this in there.’ And so I took it off. Then we went to see Daft Punk.

Jordan: Didn’t you not know what was going on?

Matt: Sadly, I didn’t know who Daft Punk was when I went and saw them. And now I’m like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ That’s such a big resume builder. Like, ‘I’m not really qualified for this job, but I’ve seen Daft Punk.’

KPSU: You have to answer, Austin.

[Austin shows us footage of Macklemore singing happy birthday to Austin onstage at a show. {I’m actually not kidding.}]

KPSU: Who have you been listening to lately?

Matt: I’ve been listening to a lot of Run the Jewels. And, this is like the polar opposite, but Bahamas. Those are my two jams right now.

Jordan: Music? Uh, there’s this band out of France called Carpenter Brut I really like. They’re kind of, like, 80’s synth band meets metal. So it’s very aggressive but still has really cool synth sounds. It’s really, really cool. You should check them out. Carpenter Brut.Client Liason; check ‘em out. They’re like Australian Chromeo. They’re great. All their music videos look like they were made in, like, ‘83 and they’re driving around like they’re Hot Chip but really they’re in a Toyota Camry.

Matt: I will always, forever, once a week listen to Diarrhea Planet. Like at work I’ll just put my headphones on and jam out and my coworker’s like, ‘Dude, what are you listening to?’ ‘DIARRHEA PLANET!’ They’re the best. They’re like Andrew W.K. but with talent.

Austin: That new Beat Connection song is fuckin’ dope. Geographer’s new record, been listening to that a lot. The reason I like it is because it’s indie rock. There’s tracks on there that sound like Typhoon, there’s some big orchestral stuff, and there’s some smaller stuff as well. I’ve been listening to this guy from Chattanooga, Tennessee, called Tut. He released a tape awhile ago that’s just good hip hop. Hayden James, from Australia. His new single ‘Something About You’ is dope. It reminds me of Disclosure when they first came out. He’s also about to blow up here in the states. The new Tuxedo record is good. I think that’s a pretty good cross-section.

KPSU: Where can fans find more information about you online if they would like to?

Jordan: Just search CUFF LYNX, facebook.com/cufflynxinc, soundcloud.com/cufflynxinc. To tweet us, it’s just straight @cufflynx, one word. And Instagram is @CUFF_LYNX because some asshole has our name. I suggest going to SoundCloud because the music is all there and it’s free download.

KPSU: Awesome! Thanks for talking to me, guys.

 

 

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