HOW PRODUCERS ARI KYLE AND ADAM LILLEY FIND SUCCESS COLLABORATING ACROSS CONTINENTS
Occasionally, the best collaborations are thrown together first by circumstance and second by fate. With the odds arguably stacked against them, in the form of having an entire ocean separating them, producers Ari Kyle and Adam Lilley initially crossed paths by way of being signed to the same record label at the same time. While each was focusing their attention on their own individual projects, the label made the savvy recommendation of recruiting them for various collaborations. Such a partnership became serendipitous, with the pair later forming an official duo, today known as Medii.
"They give you this sensation of listening to music in a club and it seems like it would be really loud, but it doesn't have to be."
With years of working together already in the books, Ari and Adam made their debut as Medii in late 2016, since going on to build a budding catalog of original tunes and remixes. From releasing music under labels including Universal Music Group, Trap Nation, Cloudkid and Astralwerks, to winning over new listeners with each new offering, Medii is providing a soundtrack to the moments in life worth celebrating and those that encourage careful introspection. With a sound that is as emotive as it is ever-evolving, Medii is currently gearing up to enter a new chapter of sorts, after taking a brief hiatus to further refine their sound in the electronic music spectrum.
The duo's forthcoming single, "Keys," is set to drop this Friday (May 22, 2020) and in advance of their highly anticipated first release of 2020, Ari and Adam took a moment to chop it up with the DropLabs team about expressing themselves through music and how they found their footing musically as Medii. During our recent conversation, we spoke more about how they make their collaboration work well despite being based on different continents, the importance of growing artistically while remaining authentic and what fans can expect from them in the near future.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got started making music together as Medii?
Ari: Adam and I have been working together for almost ten years. We met through being signed to the same crappy record label in 2010 or 2011. They had us do some collaborations together, and we ended up continuing to work together. [With Adam in the UK], we were emailing in the beginning, just sending stems back and forth, really old school. It's really easy now with all the technological advancements, but back then, we were literally bouncing out stems and sending everything over and discussing what to do all via email. It's kind of funny looking back. Today, having one of us in the US and the other in the UK, it's much better than it used to be.
Over the years, we have done a ton of releases together, and we both kind of got tired of the style we were working on. So, we decided to explore this new realm together--a little bit more on the pop side--and it ended up doing better than anything we had done before. Shortly thereafter, we decided to bite the bullet, get rid of our old individual projects and form a duo. I think we started at the end of 2016 officially as Medii.
How would you describe the Medii sound?
Ari: This is always a fun one [Laughs]. We come from a very dance music background, so if you can imagine music producers venturing more into the pop world. The production is very dance influenced but we are working with a lot of pop singers and songwriters. We do a lot of collaborations with vocalists and we do write our own also. We're somewhere between a blend of Madeon, Porter Robinson, Odesza and then modern pop thrown in as well. I'd say we're some amalgamation of that. It's kind of like Stranger Things (with a little bit of 80s in there) meets pop music meets dance music. It's very melodic and vocals-focused.
What is it like working together when you're not in the same continent, let alone the same studio?
Ari: It's definitely interesting. Obviously, there's pros and cons to it. We have had many studio sessions together, and I'll travel out to London occasionally so we can get a week in the studio together, which is always great. But there is something kind of cool about handing it off and seeing where it goes, as opposed to me sitting right behind Adam, and being like, 'Oh, no, no don't do that or do this.' Instead, it's a completely blind collaboration, where we might discuss what we envision, but for the most part, it's a pure pass between the both of us. This way, there isn't any direct input while you're working. It's a much different form of collaboration because of that. It presents some challenges, but we've found a way to make it work and it definitely takes our music in a direction that I never thought it'd go. Even with quarantine and with working remotely, it's like we've been ready for this. We've been training for ten years! [Laughs]
Adam: Even though we're not on the same continent, it's never really been an issue. We work 24 hours a day because as one of us goes to bed, the other one is getting up. It works for us really well in that respect. We're both quite similar people and have the same outlook on a lot of things, so that makes it so much easier to produce over a distance.
What helps support your creative process?
Adam: Before our call actually, I was in my room ripping apart an arcade game and changing all the buttons and control sticks on it. My studio space is just the biggest nerdy room ever [Laughs] . It's full of action figures and retro arcade games and things like that. It gets me into that nostalgic headspace and helps me get back that feeling, because as you get older, you lose that feeling of excitement you have when you're a teenager when everything's new. That can lead you to being a bit cynical, so surrounding myself with all these cool things from yesteryear helps me get that excitement again and that is important for me. If I'm working in a clean, bare studio that just had equipment in it, I don't think I'd feel inspired. I need this kind of stimulation around me. Rather than it being a distraction, it's actually quite a big help.
What would you say surprised you the most about trying out the DropLabs EP 01's?
Ari: When I first caught wind of the shoes, I was immediately drawn to them. It's a brand-new concept and no one has done anything like this. What surprised me the most about the shoes was, I mean, obviously, they pack a pretty good punch [Laughs]. They give you this sensation of listening to music in a club and it seems like it would be really loud, but it doesn't have to be. You get the same body sensation that makes live music so great, but you get it while wearing headphones. I think that's probably my favorite part. As a musician especially, I have to worry about listening to music too loudly, which can damage my ears pretty easily. But, obviously I love listening to music loud and this mitigates that a little bit where I can listen at moderate volumes but still get the experience of really cranking it.
How would you describe the shoes to someone who hasn't tried them out yet?
Ari: I would say, it's like adding another brand-new dimension to your listening experience. It's a completely new sensation that goes along with listening to music. Of course, music is already amazing on its own as a physical experience, but this enhances it. I have to hand it to the DropLabs team, as I'm sure it's not an easy thing to market because it really is hard to describe. It's hard to get that message across with words, because the best thing to do really is to try it out for yourself.
What would you say fans can expect in this next chapter for you guys?
Ari: We've been kind of dark since the middle of last year, purposely so, because we wanted to get a really clear direction. We are probably sitting on 30 songs at this time, many of which we may or may not release because we're trying to find a very specific direction that people can latch on to. We have a lot of music we're going to be releasing over the course of the next year. We're working with a lot of cool labels, maybe doing some stuff on our own. We're strategizing how we want to approach it still but I can definitely say there will be no shortage of new releases. We're working on a few collaborative projects and some stuff with other producer friends. We may do some sort of EP in the future as well.
Adam: I know it sounds so cliché but we went through a little period of trying to find exactly what we wanted to do sound-wise. We spent a couple of months trying a few things out, and one of the things we've always adhered to, is knowing that people can smell bullshit a mile away. If we tried to make music that wasn't us, people would know. So, we spent some time just thinking of what we are comfortable with and what we love, and I'd say throughout the past couple of months, we've really found what we want to do.
I hope that everyone gets that it's coming from a genuine place and that we've arrived at this point organically. For the people that have been following Medii up until our last release, it might be kind of like coming out of a coma, so to speak, because it's like they'll have to catch up with us and our evolution. It's not a complete change, but it's an evolution and a more comfortable fit for us, and I'm hoping the people who have liked Medii so far will want to come along for the next part of the journey. That's what I hope.
As innovators by design, the team behind DropLabs Technology™ is dedicated to supporting and elevating members of the creative community. Together, we aim to serve as a platform highlighting different creators as they work towards achieving visionary excellence and inspiring others along their path. To nominate a creative leader you’d like to see highlighted on our website, please contact email@example.com.