Cardiknox Talks Their New Single "Bad Boys" and their Dream Collab
Don’t put away your convertible just yet, because Cardiknox is serving up an extra dose of LA vibes in their new single “Bad Boys”. Thomas and Lonnie may have a theater background, but their latest launches are seriously retro. MILK.XYZ sat down with the electro-pop duo to talk how they came up with their sound, hip-hop artists they’d love to collab with, French artist Christine and the Queens, and growing up in Seattle. Check out the new single “Bad Boys” here, and peep the full interview below.
How are you guys?
L: We’re doing great, new music out today and it feels great.
Your new single “Bad Boys” drops today. What was your inspiration for that song?
T: When you’re writing a new song, you know pretty quickly if something is there – at least, that’s been our experience. Still, even if you’re really excited about a song, it ends up taking a really long time to fully develop and with this song, it all happened really quickly. We just started playing this little guitar riff, and before we knew it, we had this basic skeleton and outline of the whole song. It had this retro, funky feel and we tried to really embrace that. It reminded us a lot of the songs we grew up listening to. Both of our dads were huge music nerds who were always playing us records, so we tried to embrace the retro vibe of everything and fully go for it. After the first day, we had this very simple demo of the guitar lines, the vocals, and a really simple drumbeat. We were still so weirdly excited about it, kept listening to it over and over, there was just something about it. At that stage, we could usually kinda hear that it was going to be cool, but with “Bad Boys” it was so clear.
Your sound is super danceable and is honestly quintessential weekend vibes. How did you guys come up with your sound after working in theater? The two seem pretty different.
L: I would agree, our sound is definitely different than musical theater [Laughs] I appreciate you saying that, I’m glad that that is clear. I would imagine other artists would also feel this way, but it’s an evolution. Where we started, when Thomas and I started writing music together four years ago, which is crazy – it’s all different but it’s built on the same foundation. A foundation of basically creating something that you want to listen to. Something that feels like a true reflection of you and something you would want to turn around and listen to afterward. Thomas and I started in this indie electro synth-y space, and I would say that it’s evolved. Portrait, our first studio album, was very 80s-influenced and I would say that it was pretty epic and dramatic in some ways. It feels like what we’ve been doing now is exploring different sonic categories and we just put out a single a few months ago called “Fuck With You” that we were really excited about, but even that feels different than this. When Thomas and I started writing it, it felt right. It had those disco, funky feels, and we leaned into that and embraced what we were creating.
T: I think on our album, we went in more with a “we need to sound like this” mentality, a more specific vision for it all. In some of these newer songs, we’re letting go a little bit and not trying to limit the song in any way. A lot of times you can get in the way of the song and I think it’s important to just get out of the way and let the song be what it wants to be. “Bad Boys” wanted to be this retro, disco-y, dance vibe so by just letting the song be, that is gonna make it the best version of itself. I think we learned to do that a little more.
You both grew up in Seattle. How does that experience compare to life in New York and LA – have the different places molded your sound in any way?
T: Totally, I think we both had different experiences of Seattle. I grew up playing in rock bands since I was twelve years old, and so for me, Seattle was always a super supportive, encouraging city to be creating music. There were always people in other bands, and I met a lot of people who would become lifelong friends and lifelong collaborators through the music scene in Seattle.
L: My experience in Seattle was very different, not in the rock band music scene at all. I was on the musical theater stage – I grew up loving theater. It as a great nurturing artistic environment. T: Then we moved to New York to work on this musical, but we started Cardiknox there. New York was hugely influential in Cardiknox’s sound. The grittiness, the character of the city, it was dark but pop, it was all totally from New York that New York provided us. Then, LA has been hugely influential, too. There are so many people here in our music world, it’s almost overwhelming at times. But, you’re also like a kid in a candy store and have everybody here who’s motivating and inspiring you to keep going and stay on your hustle. Everybody here is not slowing down, you just gotta go.
L: “Bad Boys” to me feels very LA. I don’t think we would’ve written it in New York. It feels very appropriate for sun, palm trees, the top down, wind in your hair.
Totally, the two cities have a totally different vibe creatively. In talking to artists, you really are a New York artist or an LA artist – you can cross between the two but there’s just a different sound and creative process in each city.
T: Yeah we really miss New York at times.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of cool artists. Who’s your dream collaboration?
T: We did a remix version off of our last album where we had a rapper, this guy Daye Jack, do a rap instead of our second verse and we loved it. It was so cool. We were sorta cool enough to have a rapper on one of our songs and it really worked. Part of it was the song we chose, but I thought that was a really cool collaboration and would love to do more stuff like that. I’m a huge hip-hop rap fan, and there are some really cool artists I’d love to collaborate with – this group called They are amazing. Obviously, I’d literally die if Kanye West or Drake wanted to collaborate.
L: Yeah, humble. Like, “we’re looking for a small feature, do you think Kanye’s interested?”
[Laughs] that would be amazing.
It would be amazing. Just from a fangirl perspective, Christine and the Queens – she’s a French artist and a visionary, and her live show is one of the most beautiful and most transcendent things I’ve ever seen, so doing something with Christine and the Queens would be incredible. Or, you know, my hero Cyndi Lauper.
So, Kanye West and Cyndi Lauper on your next album.
What’s the reaction been like to the teasers? Are your fans hyped about it the new release?
T: Yeah they’ve been really excited. The artwork has this neon light vibe so we’ve been using that in all the teasers and people have been excited. It’s always fun to release new music. When you’re not putting out new music out and you’re having to keep up your social presence and be posting other stuff online, it’s easy to feel disconnected. It’s not real art you’re putting out there. When you release a new video or song, you get so much feedback from your fans and you’re like, I forgot about all these people. All these people like our music, and it’s great to put it out there.
What’s in the pipeline for the rest of the year. Is “Bad Boys” off an upcoming album?
L: We have just been studio, studio, studio, writing and recording, and we’re in this place where we have this massive body of work. This happens oftentimes when you’re in the creation process and it’s like you have to whittle it down and figure out, of all these songs we’ve created, what are the real winners and then finishing them, producing them out. I think we’ll continue to produce more singles, and put out an EP.
T: Yeah, we’re kinda testing, foot in the water. It’s an interesting time in music where it’s like, do you even put out an album anymore, or just singles? It’s kindof a gray area right now, so we’re testing the water, putting some songs out, and we’ll see where it goes. We have a lot of songs that we’re really excited about. They’ll come out one way or another, we just need to figure out how it’s gonna happen.
L: We’ll hopefully be getting back out on the road to play them for people and connect with people. That’s obviously the best part.
Images via Fancy PR
Stay tuned to Milk for more artists with hella weekend vibes.