From a Bay Dreams happenstance to recording their debut album in New York with some of the best creators in the world, it’s safe to say that Auckland’s coolest twins eleven7four are definitely living the dream. We spoke to them (in the comfort of our own separate homes) about their friendship with longtime Ariana Grande collaborator Tayla Parx, their music making process, and writing 14 songs in just two days.
How did you guys meet at Bay Dreams in 2019?
We were just going to Tauranga because we had our own placed booked out. We didn’t have any tickets (to Bay Dreams), but on New Year’s Eve they were throwing a party at the Bay Dreams HQ for all the staff that were going to be working at the festival. We got an invite to that and 3 backstage passes for the festival. Cut to the next day, the day of the festival, we ended up catching the last half of Tayla’s set on the side of the stage as a friend who was working with her invited us up. Our friend was like “do you guys know who this is?” and we were like “nah, no idea. She’s got an amazing voice though.” We ended up finding out that she wrote a bunch of Ariana Grande songs and is one of the biggest songwriters in the world. If we hadn’t stopped by her set, we probably wouldn’t be getting this opportunity.
What did you guys get up to at Bay Dreams?
After her set finished, we complimented her and asked what she was getting up to, because we knew the place quite well. We ended up just taking her around. We watched a bunch of different acts and by the end of the night we asked her how much longer she was here for and what her plans were. We didn’t talk about music once at all. She said she was in NZ for the rest of the week but didn’t know anyone so didn’t have much to do.
Did you guys hang out after that?
We cut our holiday in Tauranga short and went back to Auckland with her. We were basically like “if you’re going back to Auckland, that’s where we’re from. We’ll take care of you and show you around.” We didn’t know if she was going to make music with us, but it was important to just build that relationship. We took her for a drive to Point View Drive in East Auckland, everybody knows that spot. You can see our old high school from up there, so we just showed her that general area where we grew up. We showed her restaurants and clubs and rooftop bars. It wasn’t until it was time for her to pack her bags and go home that we spoke about music. We asked, “what would be the likelihood of you working on our debut album with us?” She said, “take my details down, I’ll be super keen. Let’s keep in touch.”
So how did it jump from that to writing music together?
After that, communication became quite hard. Because she’s such a busy person, it became harder to stay in touch. When we did finally pop the question there was a lot of uncertainty up until at least a week before we were about to go. It went from being we have no idea whether this is gonna go down or not to being “you guys are going to New York next Tuesday.”
What was it like working with Tayla and her team in New York?
We wrote all the songs in the first two days. We were just on hyperdrive and full of creativity. You had everything to lose so you had to kind of smash it out. Also, we were in the most inspiring place in the world. This was the first time for us leaving New Zealand, so the first time you’re leaving the country to go to New York City to record an album with one of the biggest songwriters is a pretty cool moment. It took us 2 days to write 14 songs and then we spent the rest of the time (about 5-6 days) finishing verses and actually cutting the songs. Both the writer and the engineer that we worked with are Grammy-award-winning so they were the best of the best. We really trusted their judgement and their process. We were pretty much in their zone. We really learnt a lot.
In terms of the music making process, are there certain roles you each fill or do you split everything 50/50?
It’s pretty much 50/50. When we’re making our own music, Shingi focuses more on making the beats and then I’ll (Muche) focus on making the melodies and the words. But we both try and give input into both those areas. Where one lacks, the other makes up for.
How did the process work when partnering with Tayla?
It was different because we had two other writers and also another producer, so it was pretty much just us picking our moments. If I heard a beat or something that was really jumping out, I’d jot that idea down, go straight to Shingi, and be like “do you feel that?” He’d then be like “yeah that’s tight, why don’t we go to this place or do this.” Then the writers would come in and just tweak things a little bit and help pull everything together.
But before we even made anything, Tayla just sat us down and introduced us to everyone who’d be working with us for the week and she asked what we’d been up to and going through in the year since she’d seen us last. So, we just told her everything that we’d been going through and told stories and stuff like that. And that’s where we based the whole concept of what the eleven7four album would be.
Can you talk a bit about the upcoming album and what we can expect? Any spoilers?
It really sounds like we’re leaving the country for the first time. It feels like one big adventure, one big night out. It sounds like all the things you can go through from the start of the night bumping into random strangers, seeing your ex, then the comedown when you’re driving home in the taxi when the night’s over. It’s a palette of all the different flavours you can taste on a night out.
What’s next for you guys? What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
We have our album ready so 2020 is just album mode. Everything’s just getting wrapped up now. We’re trying to focus a lot on socials, and we’ve got another music video we’ll be rolling out at the end of the year. We’re just going to keep pushing music out. Our whole album is ready to go, and we know it’s going to do well because we love it and Tayla loves it. So, we’re just going to keep believing in it. Even in the situation we’re all in, the music is still good so we’re just going to put it out and hope for the best.