If you’ve been following where dance music and pop music intersect, you’ve probably heard of the production duo Grey. Composed of brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha, this stealthy duo is behind the production on two songs that have more than a billion streams on Spotify (“The Middle” and “Starving”) and they’re also three-time Grammy nominees.
That’s an impressive resume regardless of genre, and now Grey are ready to step into the limelight themselves with their upcoming CONTRA EP. Featuring the already released singles, “7-DS” with AWAY, “RAVEN” with Virtual Riot and the just released title track. CONTRA is shaping up to be a tremendous showcase for the brotherly duo’s production talents. “CONTRA” in particular really highlights how great these guys are at sound design.
We got the chance to sit down and chat with the guys about we’re they come from musically, how they’ve grown after almost a decade of making music, advice for those coming up in the industry and more. Check out our exclusive interview below.
Hey guys, thanks for chatting with us. First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you got into making music.
Kyle: “So, we’re brothers, and we’ve been obsessed with music since we were kids. We used to just ride around our town on bikes and skateboards listening to dream theater, like prog-metal, we used to listen to very complicated music when we were growing up. And as we got older, I started making music first, Michael would help me out with it and then we got into EDM in 2010. And we just decided to start a project together in 2015.”
Michael: “So, we kind of started thinking of music in more of an analytical way.”
K: “Drumline, especially in the school we went to, was very serious and regimented. They wanted us to be the best that we could be and we were just putting everything into that. So, it really shapes the way you view music when you approach it that way. Some people just come into producing like I just want to create cool vibes or something. But, we’ve always had a very intense approach to perfection.”
Most people know you guys for your collabs with Zedd, how did that partnership first come about? Anything in the future with him?
M: “Yeah, I was working at an Olive Garden in Laguna Niguel and Kyle was out in Santa Monica doing his project called Singularity or Kyle Trees? So, we decided to start a new project together called Grey, and then we were just like let’s try to make some remixes. At the time, True Colours had just come out, Zedd’s album. And we just got the vocal for “Beautiful Now” and remixed it.”
K: “And then we did a remix for Jack U, “Where Are U Now” with Justin Bieber. We just had these two bootleg remixes, neither of them official. And my friend said that he had Skrillex’s email, and I didn’t believe him, but we just sent it anyway, and it was Sonny. He listened and was super impressed with the music and sent it to Zedd. And Zedd told me later, that was the first time Sonny had ever sent him anything. So, he was stoked to listen to that and then he hit us up and we had a meeting with his manager the next day.“
M: “Yeah, I was on my lunch break at Olive Garden when he told me, and I was like okay shit, and I just quit that day. But, we found out later on, we had a session with Skrillex and he told us that he never checks that email, it’s like a spam email, and he said he checks it like once a month and just clicks the top one, and that’s just what he did.”
Tell us about the upcoming CONTRA EP? Tell us about the process behind the music and how you guys have come up with a signature sound for Grey?
M: “Well, we were making a lot of pop-centric stuff for a pretty long time, there. And, the last like real, electronic thing, if you want to call it that, that we did was called Chameleon, an EP we did. And we just kind of missed just going crazy and just making some banging electronic music. So, we decided to go back and make an EP like that again, which is super fun. But, now, after doing a whole lot of pop for a while, we’ve kind of gotten a lot better, especially in terms of songwriting. And just doing a cool blend of having real good songwriting and mixing it with the crazy electronic stuff. And now we can also sing on our stuff too, which is really fun.”
K: “Working on electronic music makes you good at sound design and drops and all that kind of stuff. Working in pop music makes you a better songwriter, lyrically and melodically. So, it’s definitely a combo of the two areas that we’ve spent the most time working in.”
M: “And there’s definitely a lot of worldly samples in there, as well.”
When you’re working on a song and collaborating with other people, people probably have in their mind a certain picture, like that Beatles’ documentary of artists just jamming out in the studio. When you’re doing more electronic and pop based stuff, what’s that process like? Is there any jamming out on instruments or is it just sending files back and forth.
M: “I feel like it depends, definitely in the song writing process there’s a lot of jamming acoustically like you’re saying. But, I can remember just being in the studio with Val and we were just nerding out on weird sounds to add. And certain things would spark other ideas from other people, and maybe you add a little bit of guitar or something to certain parts.”
K: “The way it usually goes is like he said, when you’re writing the topline and the most basic part of the song it’s good to be in the room and collaborating. For the whole middle section, all the producing, the main part of it, most producers like to do that alone. Because, it’s so much like an exploration process and trial and error. And it takes so long, it’s #1-boring, and #2 a little bit, it’s a lot of pressure to have someone over your shoulder in those type of moments. So usually we’ll do that on our own and the come back for the final piece, for touch-ups. Touch-ups are really fun to do together.”
You guys recently went on the road. How was your trip to Japan? What’s it been like touring internationally and where can fans expect to see you perform in 2024?
M: “It was super fun, it was our first time going for Halloween and I’m a big anime fan and everyone was dressing up as anime characters. One of the shows we played was a Halloween show and everyone was dressed up, it was really crazy. We added a bunch of crazy anime mashups into our set, and, yeah, it went off.”
K: “We did this remake of Bohemian Rhapsody a long time ago to make it sound modern and really full and we play it in all of our sets. But we thought it would be really funny to change the acapella into a Japanese guy singing Bohemian Rhapsody, so we played that and it’s just hilarious, it’s really hype.”
Is that anywhere for fans to see on YouTube?
K: “No, I don’t think anyone can hear it right now. That would be cool though.”
Do you have a wish list for anyone you’d like to work with?
M: “I really like Imanu, he’s been crushing it recently. We always gotta shout out our friends, Winston, they’re insane.”
K: “We’ve been listening too, on the EDM side, Seth Hills. And Mesto, both of those guys make really cool stuff.”
What advice do you have for producers and musicians trying to break into the industry?
M: “I feel like you need to always know there’s a huge portion of it that’s luck. And you just have to prepare yourself for when you do get lucky, and just try yourself to be as ready as you can be for when that random moment happens that you happen to be seen by some important people that your stuff is good enough to make a difference.”
K: “Another thing I would say is it’s a balance between marketing and skills. I know a lot of our friends are just the most talented producers I know, but they, like us, struggle at marketing. They spend all their time producing and getting really good at songs, but no one hears them. And I’ve met people on the other side of the spectrum, all they do is make Tik Tok videos and they have no idea what they’re doing, music wise. The best thing you can do is have balance between those two things.”
M: “I think being able to show yourself as much as possible, instead of just listening to your music, they get to know you. That’s also part of it, having a personal relationship with people. And then also, you can use music to show people that you’re a type of writer.”
Thanks guys, any words for the fans or anything else you’d like to add?
M: “I mean, ‘Starving’ and ‘The Middle’ is something to be proud of. It’s pretty crazy.”
K: “Even now, when you look at the billion club, there’s not that many songs. So, that’s awesome. One tour that really stands out to me was our tour with Zedd in the US and Japan, it was so fun.”
M: “I think just being able to have this be a career still, for so long, that we haven’t had to go back to working.”
K: “Thanks for sticking with us all this time.”
M: “Look forward to the last two songs of the EP, they’re really cool.”
Check out the latest from Grey, “CONTRA” out now on Lowly. The full CONTRA EP is slated for release in early 2024.