Eyes on the Cataracs

Originally published September 22nd, 2011 in The Daily Princetonian.

Street talks to Niles “Cyranizzy” Hollowell-Dhar of The Cataracs, the electro-hop duo that performed at Charter Club for Lawnparties last Sunday.

Q: How would you describe your music: dance beats? Hip hop?

A: You know, production of dance music is just on a whole ’nother level. People are really doing out-there shit. There’s a whole kind of world with all these different techniques and all these things that sound so great, and dance music that’s so well produced. [We] learned a lot from it … we kind of trespass against it at will, doing the dance thing, doing “G6” and all these records — that’s sort of where we learned the ropes. So I think you’ll hear that in our music. But you know, we come from a hip-hop background, so I think that’s what you’ll hear.

Q: What are some of your current influences?

A : There are some artists out there today who really fit comfortably in all these different realms, in terms of genre of music. It’s interesting: Kanye West is a really big inspiration as a producer. You can really hear it on his album. He has eliminated that space, that distance between thinking of something and writing it down. I think he can create such a wide variety of sounds, and he’s really comfortable doing it. His voice still comes through … you always know it’s Kanye West, by his aggression and his wit, and he’s just such an exciting personality. Personalities like that. Drake’s another one … these are just more hip-hop guys that I’m talking about, but on the other end of the spectrum you have guys like Adam Levine from Maroon 5, who’s now getting on all these pop records. I think that the people that really inspire me the most are the ones that you can really sense how comfortable they are because they can just dance, or go from this record to that record, and they really own it. Anybody who can dabble in genres like that is a big inspiration.

Q: How do you put albums together? Is there a specific sound you go for?

A: We usually just sit down and see whatever comes out of it. Sometimes you might wake up and listen to The Beatles one day. The next day you like this and that, or hear a new album or something. Sometimes you might want to listen to different types of music, and we also want to make different types of music. So whatever’s inspiring to us at the time can dictate the direction that we go.

Q: What’s your personal favorite track you’ve ever made or worked on?

A: In recent memory, I really, really, really liked the song called “Dancing Shoes” that’s on Dev’s album, and I also really liked “Lightspeed” from that album. Big songs are always nice when you play shows and you see people rocking out to them. That always makes me love it all the more.

Q: Who would you like to work with in the future?

A: I think that Brandon Flowers from The Killers is an incredible singer. And I think that girl from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen, is a really great singer also. But I think that it’s really important that we focus on The Cataracs album right now. Aside from these new projects with other people, really big artists that we can’t turn down, for the most part we’re just focusing on our own stuff. We’re working on a lot of different projects, and with the big stuff, I’m excited for it. But you know, where my focus is at, and where I want to put my production and invest my effort, it’s The Cataracs.

The Cataracs

Q: What are you working on now for The Cataracs?

A: [A new] album is what we’re working on now. We got started with a couple records that are fun, energetic and really hit hard. In production, we really try to go all out on The Cataracs stuff.

Q: What’s this new album going to be like?

A: I think it’s almost going to be like a “Best of” album but with all new music, if that makes any sense. Like if you bottled all our songs that we recorded through all the different companies and mix it with everything that we learned. The production is going to be great. We’re going to spend a lot of time to get it right. The fact is that I think we have a pretty act going, with catchy choruses and stuff. Just having fun songs, and making fun concepts for songs, and making songs.

Q: That sounds super legit. 

A: Yeah! It’ll be super legit! No wait, super, super, super legit. I’m telling you. It’s gonna be legit.

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