Chicago electronic dance duo Dance Loud, comprised of Kristin Sanchez (DJ/Decks/Synths/Mix Engineer/Mastering) and Deseree Fawn (Drums/Guitar/Bass/Vocals/Arranger/Mix Engineer) formed in 2008 and have gained a steady following due to their unique mix of digital and analog sounds. The real life couple combines Kristin’s electronic production and DJ talents with Deseree’s live instrumentation, making for a dynamic sonic and live experience. Although opposites in many ways, with Deseree’s background in metal, jazz and gospel and Kristin’s background as a Latin and soulful DJ, they take those differences and blend them together to create their fun and unique sound. Dubbing their music ‘Emotional Dance Music’, it’s music that they say can be heard with others but is almost meant to be experienced alone. The duo released their debut single “Spy vs Spy” in 2013, leading them to set out on tour across North America. They have performed at The Artist Lounge at Bonnaroo and popular venues that include The Knitting Factory in NYC and The Steady in Toronto. They were building momentum until a 2017 car accident, in which Sanchez sustained several serious injuries, put things on hold for a month. Having lost ten unreleased tracks in the accident, starting over with their songwriting has helped them to craft the sound they want to have as a band. Once released, they began to write songs that will be their debut album The Moment, which is due to be released on June 5th. Having funded the album through a Go Fund Me campaign that friends had set up for them following their accident, they created the album independently. They recently released the album’s first single “Hollow”, which they describe as being about duality and being hollow inside, saying that every bad person has a good side and that every good person has a bad side. They describe Dance Loud as their journey together and embrace who they are and their differences. Their goal is to spread positivity and karma through their music. You can follow Dance Loud and stay up-to-date with all upcoming music, band and tour news, as well as stream and purchase their music, via the following links:
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The two of you met in art school in 2008 and started playing music together. What prompted the two of you to want to start playing music together and combine your different styles?
Deseree– When we were in art school and getting close to graduation…Kristin went for audio engineering and I went for music business…I started to see, with all of our friends and everything, that since we were in art school there were painters and filmmakers, and I wondered about ways we could all start making money together. We started throwing events together and it was a multi-faceted art event. For the first show that we threw, Kristin was spinning and I was playing drums for the band that was going to come on behind her. I jumped onto her set to warm up, since I was about to start playing with the next band, and it was right at midnight and the crowd was at its max. People just really enjoyed it and right then and there we knew there was something and that we needed to keep going with it.
Deseree, your roots are more in metal, jazz and gospel and Kristin, you’ve always been more into club music and started out as a Latin and soulful DJ. You have both talked about the duality that exists in your lives and your music and that you are each other’s creative opposite. Why do you feel that you compliment each other so well?
Kristin– Oh gosh! We are total opposites, and not just in music. It’s present in everything, like who cooks and who cleans. I certainly don’t know how to cook (laughs)! When it comes to making music, though, with production, it happens again. We each have a different production style. For example, at least with engineering, Deseree’s a cleaner-upper. I’m more of the sound quality booster, where I use a lot of plug-ins and try to enhance each track overall. We seem to be good at opposite things in production engineering, and with writing too. Deseree sings and I’m writing lyrics. It just seems to work.
Deseree- Yeah, it’s kind-of ironic. Before I moved to Chicago I always imagined finding my creative opposite and what that creative opposite would be like. I thought it would be someone who plays violin and was like a pastel artist or something. I saw that she really is my creative opposite, in the realm of being more digital and with audio engineering and all that, and I’m more instrument based and more analog. I really did manifest my creative opposite, just not in the way I had imagined.
What are your thoughts on analog versus digital in todays musical environment. What do you see as the benefits of each method?
Kristin– We both agree that you need both. You can’t just do one or the other. I mean you can, but the analog instrument helps out with keeping quality at a high level, because a lot of digital synthesizers and a lot of digital anything can be cheaply done pretty easily. That’s why there’s a DJ everywhere you turn and a producer everywhere you turn…they’re everywhere (laughs)! It’s just too easy and too free nowadays. That’s another reason…with it being so free and easy is why we didn’t release any music until 20 million years later! I was using free stuff and it’s just not all that great. You have to invest in your craft. With Deseree’s instruments, that’s what we were using most of the time, but we needed the essential ingredient of more digital production engineering software. And an analog synth. That was a big deal too.
Deseree– Yeah, we found that, especially when it comes to hardware versus software of compressors and different things, as much I enjoy analog, there’s definitely a realm where it’s needed. I prefer a digital EQ and a digital limiter while with things like compressors I tend to prefer to be hardware and analog. I do think it’s good to have a mix of both worlds and not only being stuck in one or the other.
Kristin– You should have seen my interviews with old mastering engineers trying to get this done. They just automatically want to shoot it up through digital and not analog. I needed to find someone who had both and knows both…and for a niche genre.
Deseree– I feel like another band that is a good mixture of both is Radiohead, and I have the Kid A album. We were listening to it and found that they pressed it on 180 gram weight, and we were like “Wow. We need to do that.” We started looking at who their mastering engineer was and we hired the same guy because he did Aphex Twin, Thom Yorke, Coldplay. He was good with digital and analog and he ended up being the perfect person to master the whole album.
You have dubbed your music as emotional dance music that you have said people can listen to together but is almost meant to be heard alone. Why do you feel that it is meant to be heard alone?
Kristin– I think it’s good for both. When it comes to alone, at least for me, I don’t like to be around people when I’m crying. Maybe I’m just more emotional about the music we popped out or maybe it’s the same for others. As a DJ I can just sense the lyrics and what the lyrics are saying, along with the builds and the cinematic way we built each song. I think that creates the emotion and allows to really narrow in and trance out on it. When you’re in a trance, it’s not that you’re alone, you’re just in a different world. We wanted to make it feel like you’re in a different world and trance out.
Deseree– I think too that we ended up coming to the realization recently that the first side of the album…the whole thing is about the human experience…the first side kind-of deals with our frustrations with the world and feeling underpaid, underappreciated, overworked or seeing the duality of what’s happening, especially in our nation right now with politics and stuff and seeing the divide. I feel that side A of the album is a little dancier and a little bit more aggressive and expresses more of our frustrations. Side B is a little more therapeutic and acknowledges our acceptance, that everything is happening the way it’s meant to happen and it’s ok.
Kristin– For example, a song you would want to listen to with a bunch of people would be something chanty or repetitive with the vocals. Toby Keith’s “Solo Cup”…it’s a party anthem. The vocals are recorded in multiple layers and sounds like many people are singing, like in a typical chorus, but that’s emphasized heavily in that kind of production. With ours, you’re barely going to hear extra vocal tracks on the chorus. We didn’t build it that way. We built it just from straight driving emotion. We weren’t trying to party (laughs)! It may sound like it!
Deseree– I’ve read about personality types according to genre of music and found that anything with a repetitive beat, like hip hop or electronic music, is liked by more extroverted people. Jazz and classical and country and rock are all a little bit more for introverted types. I think we kind of touch upon those different worlds evenly. There could be a sense of a repetitive beat, but at the same time is more like Intellectual Dance Music.
You released your first single “Spy vs Spy” in 2013 and were building a lot of momentum as a duo. You were involved in an awful car accident in 2017 that put everything on hold for a bit. What can you tell me about the clarity that the accident gave you that set you on the path that you are on now with your music? You also lost some unreleased tracks in the accident. Did you see that as a setback?
Kristin– We didn’t realize why we had not released them. We had no idea that they sounded bad. I thought they sounded good and then you listen to them over and over and then almost die accidentally. All of a sudden, everything was horrible (laughs). Every single thing was horrible and you really take everything much more seriously, as well. I mean, insanely serious! First of all, “Spy vs Spy” was created on the fly because a buddy of ours needed a music video the next day to turn in as a final for her video major. That’s how the first song in 2013 even sprouted. We weren’t trying to even make music. We were just having way too much fun having just a DJ and a drummer performing other people’s music. The song only came out to help a friend who needed a music video. It was a free opportunity to get a music video. The music video came first, before the song, if that tells you anything! Then we just had to write a song really quickly and record everything and do all of that in timing with her final. After we had one song, we got even more frustrated with the world and decided to build a tour bus to basically leave our frustrations behind and have fun on tour, and we got away with that having just one song, being a DJ and a drummer. We noticed we were doing the wrong thing, that was just going to get us nowhere. We had no fans, or not enough from just one song. One song can only generate so much.
Deseree– You know, it was kind-of freeing when we lost those other songs, because it was always like “Oh, we need to finish these songs. Before we make more, we need to finish these.” I feel like when we were working on all of those songs, I think it was a way for me to learn the engineering side and for Kristen to teach me and this was our way to practice. We had a song that we were going to release on New Year’s Day that year, and the accident happened just days prior, and we were finally starting to be like “We just need to start and finish things.”
Kristin– We were going to release some unfinished stuff because we were set up with hoarding songs.
Deseree– Yeah, just so we could move forward. It was kind of like a blessing in disguise, I believe.
Kristin– Because they all sounded like video game levels. Not that that’s bad! They just needed to be much more produced.
A lot of people associate dance/electronic music more with synth and laptops, but you combine that with more traditional instrumentation. What do you enjoy about combining the two? What can you tell me about the dance music scene in Chicago and how you feel that you fit into that scene?
Kristin– Pioneer just debuted their new mixer and it’s meant for the purpose of musicians going back into traditional instruments, like a guitar. They added more faders on the DJM mixer. I mean, it already has 4. There’s already so many clues you can see within technology that’s being debuted. I do believe that it’s not there yet, though. There’s a couple of bands who I think we’re kind of similar to…RÜFÜS DU SOL and Bob Moses…it’s begun but there’s still a divide between venues and clubs. Venues don’t want DJs and clubs aren’t set up for other musicians. It’s always been kind of a challenge for us, because we are a mixture of two worlds. We’re not fully one world or the other. We found that to be an issue, that if there its a DJ in a band, sometimes bookers don’t realize that. Portishead and Linkin Park, they had a DJ in their band, but they were still considered a band. They were playing, doing their scratching or whatever. I think it’s still going to take some time for places to actually be set up to fit our needs perfectly. I think that any band, like Cubicolor, they are running into the same thing. They have their DJ set version and then they have their band version…their club set and live set. That is what’s now becoming a thing, when you have two different sets. When it comes to producing and engineering though, I think it just dramatically increases your quality and overall happiness, performance-wise. It’s really tricky. No one wants to mic up a drum kit in the club…nobody (laughs)! And the electronic drums…Deseree had that before we sold it. It just didn’t sound good. Even if it’s in a giant sound system, it still sounds like it needs a compressor…it really does. At least in my ear!
Deseree– I think in Chicago there is a divide between the club scene and live scene. I’d say the biggest area where it’s not divided is in Australia!
Kristin– Look at RÜFÜS DU SOL. They’ve taken over Australia and are starting to take over here. They’re jumping to the headlining spot of every festival. They are on Columbia Records and are just extremely successful for being pretty similar, with an even mix of analog and digital. We did this whole plan of adding more analog and buying higher quality digital stuff right before we found out about them. Bob Moses, too. They were originally a rock band and part of the whole grunge scene…I believe that’s where their roots come from. They’re just doing club sets, and now their 3rd album sounds more towards rock. They’re no longer sounding 50/50. I think they did consciously try to create more dancier music, because they started seeing underground parties in NY and decided to make music that DJs could spin. That’s kind of where it began for them. For us, it was just a matter of…we just did what we wanted, honestly. We didn’t really care (laughs)! That’s just what we like. Last time, when we tried to figure out what we were going to sound like, with “Spy vs Spy”, we even had a whole chart and everything, like “What are we going to sound like?”. Let’s sound jazzy, let’s sound Chicago house, which has an attitude to it.” There was a third thing that I don’t remember. We were trying to hard to figure out who we were. This first album was finally when we decided to not think about it at all and it worked out! We figured out who we were and our sound.
In 2015, you started work on ‘Don’t Stop eMotion’, a 12 episode stop motion animation dramedy series.
Kristin– Oh yeah! That’s Deseree’s baby! I’m just the one in the background (laughs)!
I read that it was going to be part of a three part multimedia album, featuring a comic book and music. Is that something you plan to continue going forward?
Kristin- Oh Yeah! This is going to be a project for Deseree’s life, because stop motion takes forever (laughs)! I’ve watched her do it and it looks like her back hurts. It hurts so bad. I have to massage her back! That stop motion game man…they don’t play (laughs)!
Deseree- Yeah, I’ve developed like a really deep obsession with stop motion animation. For years, I was just studying and then finally I thought…Kristen had proposed, and I thought that I would like to create a video for our wedding to show everyone how we met. The series is a 12 part series and the whole thing is already mapped out and each episode, at the end, will convey what it really all meant. It was a ton of fun to make and it was nice to try to put through visuals how we met and to try to invoke emotion in these inanimate objects. It does take forever. I will work 16 hour days every day for a week straight and only showing a little bit. I added a little stop motion thing to our next single coming out. Just to get a scope of it, the scene is less than 30 seconds and it took me 7 days to create it. Because of how time consuming it is, I think I’m going to have to release 3 episodes at a time periodically because music comes first. When I have time between music projects, I can work on my stop motion animation. The animation itself was to give a really broad example of a new song coming out that was like “Here it is in it’s infancy, when it sounds like animation music. Here’s what it sounds like when we first begin creating the song.” I then wanted to release animations that gave a hint of what’s to come. Then, when we actually release the full song, it shows what it evolved into, to give people those two sides of it.
Kristin– Deseree just really like cartoons. So do I!
Deseree-I do love cartoons!
Kristin– I think she’s just more visually stimulated in general. For me, I don’t need my eyes. I could live off of my ears…I don’t care. But Deseree’s always staring at pretty flowers.
You have mentioned that with the new album, you have been obsessed with studying time travel, having been influenced by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and the conspiracy theories that surround it. What made you want to have the album represent and endless loop of time and travel? What inspired that theme?
Kristin– We’ve dug really deep into math, science, physics and things doing with time travel and kind-of see the whole universe and the world as an endless loop.
Deseree– I was a big fan of Pink Floyd growing up. My parents were really into prog rock and Pink Floyd always developed concept albums. When I was growing up, my parents always had a vinyl collection and we would listen to albums as a whole. That’s how I was raised, that this was how you listen to music. I’d read a lot of interviews with Alan Parsons (the audio engineer who produced Dark Side Of The Moon) at Abbey Road Studios, who worked hand in hand with people, and never once did they say they did it on purpose. I do believe that you can create a score for a movie, but the sheer fact that it really could have been a mistake or serendipitous, with that being an option, I thought “Well, why don’t we do that, as well. Why don’t we make this album where it’s able to be looped and the last song is the first part of the first song. When you hear the last song, you go back to the beginning and listen to the first song, because that’s the end of the last song”.
Kristin– I think, too, that time travel was another weird…also, with audio engineering, a lot of the study of electronics and audio deals with frequency. When you start studying frequency, you will automatically and accidentally know. I don’t know how to explain it. Time travel is really easy to comprehend if you study frequency. Time travel study became our therapeutic way to be ok with the earth, because if we’re on an endless loop, kind of like most of the movie The Matrix, things are just going to happen and things are just meant to be. Don’t be all angry. Just keep going and you’re probably just going to keep going forever. We’re a light being that doesn’t ever really die. Our energy just transfers, supposedly.
Deseree– I’m a big fan of Nikola Tesla, and he said that if you want to understand the universe, you have to think about it in frequency vibration energy. The more we study frequency, things start to make sense and I think it helps me to understand the human condition a little bit more. My one example is that there’s this thing called sympathetic frequencies, where if you were to take two tuning forks that are tuned to the same frequency…for example if it was tuned to an A that was a 440 hertz frequency, and there’s two of them, you could strike one and then mute it and it makes the other one vibrate. In that way, if people are on the same vibrations or whatever, I think it actually deals with humans to. If we meet someone that is on our same wavelength, our frequency will lift someone else up. I think that’s where sympathetic vibrations are a perfect example of how humans interact and how we each have our own frequency level.
What can you tell me about your new single “Hollow” and what led you to choose that track as your first single?
Deseree- I think it also goes along with the divide we are all experiencing right now with our nation. You have to look at three things. You have to look at someone’s intention, why they’re justifying what they’re doing and then it’s up to us to change our perception of how we view it. Say someone stole something and now you think they are a bad person. I don’t believe that the world is set up like Batman movies, where Batman is the hero and then there’s The Joker that’s a horrible person. Everyone justifies what they do and you really have to hear the true story of why things happen the way they do. There’s a lot of factors that can describe why a person stole something in the first place and when you listen to why someone did what they needed to do, you might be able to empathize with them and realize that maybe they had been dealt a pretty bad hand. Maybe you have a grandma at home you are taking care of and are having a hard time getting a job because of racism or something. We see it first hand. We live in a neighborhood that’s been gentrified pretty heavily and is very community based. The neighbors look after each other and it’s a different way of living. It helped me understand a little more about people justifying their actions. No one is really bad and no one is really good. We are all just very balanced beings and that’s what this song talks about. The reason why we released it first is that we felt that sonically it was a little bit easier to digest. There’s a distinct verse and chorus. Some of our songs kind of ride these lines of “is there a chorus?” or “where is the verse?”. We just let the music come out as it was maybe meant to be. This song was a way to help people digest it a little bit easier. It’s dancier. We didn’t want to pull out the slower ballad songs from the start. This is going to be the first flavor that everyone kind of gets to taste from the album. We wanted to make sure it was a little more upbeat.
What’s next for you? What do you have coming up?
Kristin- Well, we can’t wait to write another album! I just want to fast forward to that part, because this is the marketing stage and I’m not really the kind of person who likes to sit behind a computer either. Neither is Deseree. The marketing part I’m dreading but I’ve been emotionally prepared for a while for this. The next part is also the performance part. We have to reconfigure our entire performance plan. Man, that’s a trip! Deseree has figured out how to get her drum kit smaller to take into a tiny DJ booth or something like that. Our whole performance brand is still being structured. It’s a lot of work. We’re a little traumatized by relying upon a computer for our lives. A lot of our stuff was made with software but at the same time we don’t want to perform using software, so we had to compromise and transform our acoustic kit to have a drum trigger so we can trigger an acoustic sound at the same time as an electronic drum, which is the drums that was in the originals that we recorded and used compression on and cleaned up a bit. It’s a perfect sample that is from the originals and is already produced well to sound big enough to match all of the rest of the sounds. I also had to learn how to play drums too, because if Deseree on vocals and guitar, who else is going to play the beats? Spinning our own music will look boring as a DJ set. I had to not look boring and learn how to just play the drums in 30 days.
Deseree– Another route that we have thought a lot about, versus having a release show and pulling in 150-200 heads, we decided that there’s definitely a trend going on with Sofar Sounds, KEXP and Tiny Desk Concerts, which involve intimate settings and live streaming. We’re going to start looking a lot more into this. We’ve kind of aligned ourselves with…so far we have three record stores on board that will allow us to do small, intimate shows. After I started thinking about it, record stores are the places that have kept music alive and have never tried to take from artists and have only helped. We’ve been looking more into options like this anyways, especially with the Coronavirus that is shutting down so many festivals. We were going to go to WMC (Winter Music Conference) this weekend but it’s now cancelled and so with this kind of scare, and the direction in which technology is moving, we are trying to think more about these intimate settings. People want to feel that they are a part of something. When we have played shows and my drums were on the floor on ground level with everyone, and people would dance around the drums, I could tell that people felt it more. A stage is almost a divider, along with a mic stand. It can divide you from the people and your instruments. I feel that if we do a series of intimate shows…
Kristin– The same with DJ’ing. Everyone knows it’s set up at eye level for a reason.
Deseree– People, they gravitate with it. They feel they are a part of it and are close to it and want to feel like they are a part of something. I’ve been to a million shows and you go to the same venues over and over and it’s just the music that changes, but you are having the same experience and are paying large door covers and bar tabs. I don’t really want to do that to our people. I’d like to keep it as cheap as possible and maybe try to knock out the middleman. When it comes to Ticketmaster, like Pearl Jam tried to fight it. If it’s $60 for a ticket, once Ticketmaster gets involved, it’s $120 a ticket. I feel that if we pull for these intimate spaces, we can live stream it. A lot of our people don’t even live in Chicago.
Kristin– It’s a local store too. I mean, record stores are going out everywhere. Let’s try to keep them.
Deseree– They are small business owners. Independent musicians are small business owners.
Kristin– People are just not going inside to record stores anymore.
Deseree– We’ve been trying to think of ideas, like trying to perform in a botanical garden or a library. Or what if we rented U-Haul and performed in the back of a U-haul and it would just be funny and we just live stream everything.
Kristin– Or a tiny bathroom series! Deseree gets a lot of work done in the bathroom. Let’s just own it (laughs)!
Deseree– That’s what we’re thinking about. How can we use technology to help us and how can we lower these cover charges for everyone and try to keep their nights cheaper. They are there for the music. They’re not there for the alcohol and the music is just in the background. They’re there for the music first.
Kristin– Live streaming…I know it’s so sad to say, but the Coronavirus is already stirring up all of these businesses to act on live streaming. I mean, meetings, you know…every worker is staying at home. They’re all doing that for non-music related businesses.
Deseree– There’s a bunch of things I had cancelled. Everything is going straight to live streaming. There’s already tech start-ups I’ve been reading about that are trying to do the whole live streaming monetizing thing, making it where there’s a digital tip box and stuff like that. We’ve been keeping an eye on technology and what’s coming next. On the bright side of things though, in the 70s they started creating what was called Quadraphonic Systems. The Doors and Pink Floyd were all recording in a way that was meant to be produced on 4 speakers. People didn’t really have the money or the capability of putting these 4 speakers in their homes, so Dolby came out with the first surround sound with Star Wars. It went towards movies. Now, we can start to use the surround sound system back for music again. I have been seeing, I think with Minecraft last year, they did a festival last year that was kind-of a VR (Virtual Reality) set up where you could buy tickets to go. I do believe it’s growing and is going to happen. On the bright side, when you are playing for an intimate space, even Adele said that you don’t get over the fact of being nervous to play in front of a large crowd. The bigger the crowd, the more nervous you get, but you just get used to it. I kind-of feel that you could have two shows, one on Friday night and one on Saturday night, and they could have the same planned set but it will be different according to the crowd and different things like that. I feel like it could be just a warm and inviting way to try to pick out some really unique spaces and have fun with the live streaming versus just throwing all of our people in a venue once a month or something. We’re big VR fans and watched a documentary about it and the next route for our next album is that we want it to be a totally immersive album.
Kristin– We want to change the world on audio quality and have people listen in stereo sound again instead of the mono Bluetooth. That would be great. Everyone’s throwing out their floor standing speakers from the 90s and I’m just collecting them all from the alleys, I guess.
Deseree– I also thought we could maybe have listening parties in movie theaters, since they are set up for the sound. We’re ready for it!
Kristin– Audio is going to start catching up with video quality. It got really degraded. There’s this whole thing where they say the kids now are called the McDonald’s generation of audio quality because no one knows what a good hi hat sounds like anymore.
Deseree– It’s begun. The events that are happening in NY, Berlin, France and England are all underground events and are all seen as sound installations.
Kristin– We made sure that Deseree’s drum kit had nylon tips on her drum sticks so that you can really hear the sweet sound of the hi hat. If you ever go into a cymbal room in Guitar Center, if you just hit these cymbals, you just can’t go back. It’s so light and big and there’s so much frequency in the analog instruments. It’s a natural piece of metal making a natural vibration. Even on a computer you can’t implement it perfectly, but it just won’t have that full or middle end.
Thank you so much for speaking with me today!
Kristin/Deseree– Thank you for your time! It was good talking to you!