A peek behind the curtain of a Majestic Casual production.
Majestic Casual aims to innovate and blur the boundaries between audio and visual aesthetics, and our live Majestic Sessions are no exception. This time, for our newest Session with HONNE, we sat down with band members James and Andy and had a quick chat to catch up, just before the cameras started rolling.
Majestic: In your words, how did this whole thing come about? Why are you in Berlin right now? I know you have a little bit of history with Majestic, but how did you get back in touch with us?
James: You were like super early supporters of our music. I would say you were pretty important in getting our music out there.
Back when we first started — it was like 2014? — we were just trying to get our music out there, using all online platforms. And Majestic Casual — you posted our music on your YouTube channel, you reposted [us] on SoundCloud, and it really helped get our music out there and got things moving.
Andy: Every time we posted a song, we were like, “We really hope Majestic Casual posts it!”
J: Honestly, it was like that.
A: It’s crazy the reach you have. People trust you — the brand — to not post something shit. And people who like this kind of music will always check out what [Majestic] says to check out. There’s not much of that out there.
J: So we came to play the MLIVE festival in Berlin for Majestic in 2016, with Tom Misch as well. That’s where we met him for the first time, and look at how that turned out! He’s on our new album. We’ve been going for four years, we’re on our second album, and we’re in Berlin as part of a world tour for our second album.
Where have you been?
A: Earlier in the year, we were around different parts of Asia. A couple of weeks ago, we were on a six-week tour of the US, Canada, and Mexico. And now we’ve got 4 weeks in Europe, in the UK. And then we’re done for this year. Then we go back to Asia to do it all over again. (laughs)
When we first started, one of the perks of being in a band was traveling. We just liked going around the world and seeing different places we’d never seen before. Now we’re away from home so much that it’s like UGH, but it’s nice. It’s bad at the same time; we miss our friends and loved ones at home. But it’s all good.
I saw you guys put out some music with BTS. It’s probably an understatement to say that they’re the biggest phenomenon in the world right now.
J: (laughs) It definitely seems like that.
What was it like, working with them? The fandom is just so insane. It’s like Bieber back in the day.
J: (laughs) The fanbase. They are lovely. But they are insane.
A: Our following is good, but when it comes to BTS…
We’ll do a tweet — for example, we posted about our new album — we had about 3,000 likes. Other things we post get about hundreds. Then we posted about this song we did with Rap Monster — or RM, as he’s known — and it’s gotten 624 THOUSAND hearts on Twitter.
J: (pulls out phone and opens Twitter) And it’s like, you just go to notifications, and you refresh it, and it’ll just be like… (gestures wildly) more.
(watches the refresh) It just doesn’t stop.
J: On the day [of the release], it was (gestures even more wildly) every minute.
So you got a new phone to keep up with the notifications?
A: (laughs) Yeah. Basically.
J: We actually have notifications off. Otherwise it’ll be just ding ding ding ding ding.
A: It’s really exciting though. They are such nice fans.
J: They’re very grateful. They’ll tweet just to say, “Thank you so much for working with RM.” They’ll be so happy. Or they’ll say, thank you for the amazing production on that. Rather than just something like “I LOVE YOU,” they’re actually quite specific. They’re happy. They knew he was a fan of ours and they’re happy that he’s working with people that he wants to work with. I quite like the idea of that.
Let’s flip that around. What’s that for you? Is there someone that you haven’t worked with yet, but is your dream to work with for your next album or stage performance?
A: I love the idea of what we’ve done. Working with BTS or RM, it fits us perfectly. I never knew we’d get to that stage, you know? But we’re just making the most of the success that we’ve had. Within Asia, especially.
J: We’ve always wanted to produce for other people. We just produced that track [with BTS], by the way, and cowrote it with him. So it’s great to be in the position where we can start doing that.
A: Yeah, and we’ve had a relationship with those guys for a while now. On our first trip to [South] Korea, we met RM and a few other members from BTS, and other people from the K-Pop scene, like Eric Nam, or Sooyoung from Girls’ Generation. And Red Velvet. But for us, we just weren’t aware of how big that world was until now, when we’re on the edge of it. So it’s really exciting for us to have our toe dipped into it and see what it’s like.
J: It’s an interesting world of people who are very, very talented. And they’re all super trained on dancing, on their music. It’s very “next level” of talent.
A: Yeah, I’ve watched a documentary on it. The levels that they go to…
Completely. But we’re not here to talk about K-Pop. Not really.
We could probably go on forever.
J: Totally. But back to the original question of who we’d like to work with. So we’ve been talking for quite a while now to Kehlani and Khalid. Just two out of many people. Khalid sung on one of our instrumentals. [The track] is really really nice. I don’t know if he’ll end up using it.
A: He might do. You never know.
Five months later, it’ll start popping off on Twitter, and that’s how you’ll find out.
A: (laughs) It really is like that though.
J: There’s a lot of people [in mind] though, like Chance the Rapper. Some are really just pipe dreams, but…
It’s probably a lot closer than you think.
A: Maybe. You never know. But I’m also all for the weird things, the things that not many people know about. Like a harp player or something. Or a boys’ choir. A school boys’ choir. Just something odd.
J: We’re quite into other instrumentalists. Just reaching out to people who bring their flair to our music, rather than just trying to get people on because we want to use their profile to forward our career. It’s more about making a good song.
A lot of people forget that that’s the most important thing: making songs, every time, that are really good. I think that’s where we’ve had our heads screwed on right — not losing touch with the fact that the only reason we’ve had any success is because the songs we’re putting out have substance and a certain quality that we won’t ever let slip. (pause) I believe…
Aaaand now you’re questioning it.
J: Oh god. Sorry everyone! (laughs)
A lot of fans can get protective and defensive over the creators as they evolve and grow in their networks and craft. At the same time, some artists are basically allergic to anything mainstream, whereas some artists embrace it as part of their evolution. Where are you on that?
A: I’m not against that. I think people have done it recently in a good way. Like Snakehips did something with Liam Payne from One Direction… Was it Liam Payne? No, it was the other guy.
J: Who left first?
A: Yes, Zayn! (laughs) If you do it in such a way that it makes sense, then it’s totally fine. We always have control of the music we’re putting out. I would never write anything that I didn’t like.
J: Not like a Top 40 house tune or something with mega pop singers.
Now it’s recorded in posterity.
J: Oh god.
A: Two years down the line… [sing-song voice] You sold out, guys!
I will hold you accountable on Twitter.
J: Just tweeting us from Majestic’s Twitter account: SELL-OUTS!!!
So what’s your goal for today? What would make you call today a successful recording day?
A: Whenever we do anything filmed — a version of a song — we want to make it as visual and different to the record as possible. So we’ve got a few different players for this recording, and just for Majestic Casual. This will be something that our and your viewers won’t get anywhere else, which I think is really nice.
J: Each bit of content has to be unique, and not just be us playing a gig or playing it with just a keyboard and singing, because you can do that all the time. We want something fresh.
What’s different this time? What’s your angle?
J: Our setup. We don’t normally play with brass. Our friend Mike researched, and arranged, some brass for today. We haven’t got a full drum kit with us here, so that’s how we’re going to make the song build at the end. Hopefully it’ll be very nice in this room, with the cool ambience.
It’s a cool space, for sure.
J: Guess we’ll find out in five minutes how it all turns out.
Well, we think it turned out pretty well.
Watch the full Majestic Session with HONNE below:
HONNE - I Just Wanna Go Back ◐ (Majestic Sessions)
Director of Photography: Pat Aldinger
1st Assistant Camera: Arkadiy Klein
Audio: Moritz Monorfalvi
Editor & Color: Dough Studios
Styling: Rhianedd Dancey
Set Photographer: Agatha Powa
Best Boy: Marlon Klein
Executive Producer: Majestic Casual
Filmed on location at Lobe Block
Check out our latest Majestic Casual Weekly, curated by HONNE:
Written by Jaclyn Siu
Photos by Agatha Powa
The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.