[INTERVIEW] Black V Neck Shares Details On Their Recent Hits, Launching Retail Records, + Upcoming Set at Ultra Miami Music Festival 2023
Known for their unique signature production style and thrilling live performances, Black V Neck has proven that they are a stand out act in the house scene. Their name pokes fun at the common belief that artists need to "fit in" to specific sounds and identities in order to be successful in the music industry. Made up of Miami-natives Ian and Julian, Black V Neck is anything put ordinary.
Pushing their exotic take on house, Black V Neck was quickly discovered by Shiba San, and has been dropping heaters left and right ever since. With hypnotic anthems of "Day N Night", "Like Whoa", recent hit "Tego", and more, Black V Neck has gained continuous support from top-tier artists, such as Green Velvet, Chris Lake, Claude VonStroke, Diplo, and Lee Foss, to name a few. Additionally, this talented duo has released bangers on Club Sweat, Insomniac Records, OWSLA, Night Service Only, and their newly launched label, Retail Records. Currently, Black V Neck has a bunch of upcoming groovy releases in the works and an exciting set at this year's Ultra. We were lucky enough to talk with them about their achievements thus far and their promising road ahead.
Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with Black V Neck below.
iEDM: What is the story behind how you two met and what led to you deciding to start Black V Neck together?
Black V Neck: Julian and I met in college at FIU! We were working together as separate aliases for a good amount of time before agreeing on just forming a duo. Two brains are better than one.
iEDM: For each of you, what are a few of the biggest strengths or advantages when working as a duo in house music?
Black V Neck: 2 >1. We can split brain power when necessary, which keeps us from burning out when making music.
iEDM: Your recent single, “Fire Burnin”, is a high-energy acid house anthem. What were some challenges when adapting to this genre and how did you overcome them?
Black V Neck: This track came about quite naturally, from the sound design to writing and recording the vocals (it's my voice lol), it was actually one of our faster finished tracks. Getting the "303" to sound just right was the biggest challenge, since I used a VST (Virtual Studio Technology: a plug-in that integrates synthesizers and effects into a track) called Vital to get the sound instead of an actual 303. Listening between some dope records that feature the real thing allowed me to hone in on the sound I was going for, and I think it worked itself out.
iEDM: What advice can you give to upcoming producers when selecting or creating the optimal vocal for an acid house song, like the one used in “Fire Burnin”?
Black V Neck: To be honest, just let it come to you. Picking the first thing you hear on splice isn't always going to work out the best. We admittedly aren't Grammy-nominated top line writers, but we know to wait for that one idea that just feels right. If you get excited when you sing it back to yourself, you're on the right track.
iEDM: What sparked the desire for you to launch your own label? How did you come up with the name Retail Records?
Black V Neck: Retail Records isn't just a passion project, it's part of our brand's future. We were inspired to release some dope club records, and that's what we've been doing. The name was inspired from the clothing item that became our duo's name, and I think you'll see how the names of our future compilations play into that brand identity and naming scheme.
iEDM: What future goals do you have for Retail Records? How do you plan on bringing the label’s vision to life?
Black V Neck: We can't say too much now, but if the name is anything to go by that should give you a pretty good idea.
iEDM: The name Black V Neck satirizes the notion that artists have to “fit in” to certain subgenres and gimmicks, which is shown through your novel, inventive, and uncompromising take on house music. Where do you think the pressure for normalcy and sticking to a specific genre stems from? What makes your identity as an artist and signature sound stand out?
Black V Neck: I think we make very straightforward records. Big bottom ends, t h i c c drums, and catchy vocals and melodies. They're to the point and they get what they're trying to say across very efficiently. There's definitely pros and cons to being that musically direct, but at the end of the day it's true to who we are. We're going to continue to make the music we like, it's that simple. People get too comfortable in what they think works. In my opinion, that's boring. We're not interested in using the same sounds every record, we want to dig deeper and really push ourselves to be better every time we sit and create.
iEDM: What inspired the idea for your newest house heater, “Original Don”, and how did you find the vocal sample used in it?
Black V Neck: Was going through my library of old DJ music from 2014 and found that banger of a record on my old USB. We started scheming on an idea for a "BVN Edit" and before we knew it we were covering the vocals lol. I found the record from which it was originally sampled from and warped and chopped the sample into something I liked for arrangement purposes.
iEDM: “Original Don” opens with a horn-like progression. What makes this sound a good fit with the chopped vocals? How did you decide on what volume and filters to layer the horns with so they weren’t too over or underbearing?
Black V Neck: It's actually a rave stab from this free VST we found! Julian heard the melody in his head, and I had already created the chops so it was a natural fit. Mixing is something I do as we produce and arrange, making sure we stay inspired and that the sounds we're working with keep us locked in for the entire process.
iEDM: What production elements did you add to the second buildup and drop of “Original Don” to keep listeners on the edge of their seats? Why is it typical for house tracks to have a more electrifying second half than the first?
Black V Neck: It's a "hoover-like" sound I made in Vital from scratch. You want to be rewarded when you make it to the finish line, right? I think the big moment on the last drop has that same effect on the audience. House records have always evolved over the progression of a record, whether it's every 8 or 16 bars that something new might happen or change in an arrangement, it's an unspoken yet crucial element of the genre. Quite honestly, Fisher's "Losing It" solidified this concept in recent years. It might be overplayed, but there's no denying it's a VERY effective record.
iEDM: There are some highly anticipated upcoming tour dates for you, such as back-to-back Stereo Live shows in Dallas and Houston, as well as a performance at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. What are you most looking forward to in regard to your set and overall experience at Ultra? What does it mean to you to be able to show out for your home city at one of the world’s biggest festivals?
Black V Neck: Ultra means the world to us. When I went to Ultra for the first time in 2014 I promised myself long before Black V Neck that I would play this festival one day. Fast forward, one of the coolest experiences of my life was premiering our track "Day and Night" on the main stage with one of our idols Afrojack. The fact we get to come back the following year (2023) and have our name on the flyer is surreal. I can't wait to show people what we've worked so hard to accomplish all these years. We have a long way to go, but this is definitely a photo op.
iEDM: You have three brand new house bangers coming to Retail Records. What other projects this year can you hint at for your fans to get excited about and which artists would you love to collab with soon?
Black V Neck: Like I said earlier, we can't say too much but be sure to keep an eye out on our social media. You can find us everywhere @blackvneckmusic. We'll be releasing some absolute bangers in the coming months, and we're really excited to share them with everyone. Going to shoot my shot here, but Chris Lake would be a real one to learn from.
Photos courtesy of Black V Neck
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