Toronto duo IIKINGS shares new single “Blue” – Interview

Toronto-based artists Slater Manzo and Red Farrow team up as a duo under IIKINGS – an artistic project that can best be described as an experimental dance phenomenon, drawing from various realms of electronic music to create emotion through contrast.

IIKINGS’ new single, “Blue,” is meant to get lost in. Take your break up, your bad day, your grey weather and get nasty with an impromptu drum & bass dance party like it’s 1990s in the UK underground. 

Listen to the new single below and read our exclusive interview!

Can you talk to us about the inspiration behind your single, “Blue”?

“Blue” came from us working on a house track that called for a cute melody hook. Funny enough, we got the chords from a meditation piece we had been working on. It then became something dark and reflective. We felt like it perfectly captured the state after a breakup. The only thing is we were tired of the monotony of this feeling so we thought, hell let’s interrupt it with a Drum & Bass dance break. Then we knew this genre-mashing banger would be our second official single for the IIKINGS project.

How do you think your community has contributed to your success?

Well we have a super supportive and loving group of friends and loved ones. We so grateful to be featured on LGBTQ+ playlists and other awesome blogs that really helped spread our new track. It means so much to us when someone shares our song as it really gives a voice to an independent artist. We also have a strong artist community in Toronto and we reached out to our close friend Roney X to dance in the music video. He killed it and we couldn’t be happier with the results.

What was the first thing that got you interested in music?

Slater–  We were both huge fans of electronic music growing up. I actually got involved with production at a much younger age of 12. I was super inspired by Deadmau5, A-trak, and Kaskade. I love the sounds they were making and wanted to try to make them myself. I kept hearing variations in my head but couldn’t find an artist who made them so I thought I would make them myself.

Red– My interest in music actually came from growing up in a church. My family was very religious and I was involved in the choir and later became the organist for the congregation. I left the church when I came out but my passion for music, chords and warm tones came with me.

Describe to our audience your music-making process.

We actually have a unique and super fun way of working on tracks together. We start with preliminary limitations, such as only using naturally recoded sounds or a particular synth, then we have exactly 30 minutes to make it on Ableton before sending it to the other person over Splice. It is such a awesome tool for creation and collaboration. We truly believe that the over saturated world of samples and plugins dilutes our creative focus, so self-imposing these limits on our process really makes our creative muscle do more of the work. We call these our ‘hot-potato’ sessions and they usually make make a mostly-finished track within 3-4 hours. We then usually launch into a thrilling couple weeks of mixing, mastering, and visual art.

What advice would you give other musicians?

This is a tricky one because so many artist come to production from different angles. So here are a couple of our favourites.

  • Business skills are some of the most important, and it takes time and boring research to hone them.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Make music that you like, not that you think others will like, but also don’t worry that its a sacrifice of artistic integrity to meet the market halfway.
  • Give yourself permission to make mediocre music and have fun. See your little creations as labours of love.
  • Making a career of music is a long process and financial success can happen quickly, slowly or take a long time to reach you. Therefore be ambitious, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to diversify within the industry.
How did it feel when you released this new music?

It was exhilarating. “Blue” was our first production that was released alongside a music video. We were so excited to put something out that felt like it was breaking the mold. Genre mashing is a difficult area to tackle because it isn’t everyone’s preference, but it seems to be what we natural make when we produce together.

And finally, if you could collaborate with any musician/band, who would it be? And why?

There are so many insane artists that we admire and respect but we would have to chose Odesza. In our opinion they revolutionized the electronic music industry and continue to evolve as artists. We are obsessed with the new album ‘Bronson’,  and actually our creation of the IIKINGS project was largely inspired by the collaboration of Odesza and Golden Features; two distinct styles coming together to create something new. Their shows are absolutely insane. We even flew once to Paris just to catch a show they did there. We would love to one day work on a track or an album with these pioneers in our industry.

You can find more information about IIKINGS at...