It has been a week since our trip to Montage Mountain and it’s time to talk about one of the greatest DJ duos Bisco had to offer: Christian Williams and Aaron Simmons, known by their stage name X&G. Despite coming on to the scene with down-tempo chill tunes, they have made themselves known for their jungle vibes and eclectic energy. Their current sound has evolved to making house music with unique elements of bass, drum, and beat patterns.
Tracks on OWSLA such as ‘Platinum’ and ‘Nowhere’ with Josh Pan put the guys on the map not only for their vibrant sound but also for the stunning music videos that accompanied them. (If that church in the ‘Nowhere’ video looks familiar, it’s because you watched Uma Thurman get knocked into a coma there in Kill Bill.) The two recently dropped another collab ‘4 MIND’ with Skrillex and Boyz Noize aka DogBlood and even more recently another heater single ‘Like It’ with familiar and hard hitting house melodies.
The Salt Lake City based duo migrated to the mountain all the way from Utah to play two killer sets on Day 1 of the festival: a daytime house set at the Office Stage and a darker and grimier after-hours bass set at the Renegade Stage. I had the pleasure of joining Aaron and Christian in experiencing Bisco, and in the process learned a whole lot more about their journey in the music industry.
What was it like to play at Camp Bisco? Any differences from performing on the West Coast?
Camp Bisco was awesome to play as well as experience. Being our first time there, we had no idea what to expect so it was really cool to be able to play on both the Office and the Renegade stages which each had their own vibe going on. I think the Renegade Stage felt more like playing west coast shows and festivals we’ve done in the past. We’re used to playing mostly night time sets so the mid-day set at the Office stage was definitely a departure from what we’ve done before.
How did you guys come together as X&G?
Back in 2013, our buddy Omar Prestwich introduced us to each other when he was running his music label Damn Son. We both had similar music tastes and different skillsets when it came to making music, so after making a few songs, we figured teaming up on a singular project would really help push the type of sounds we were wanting to create.
How would you say your skillsets work together?
We both write music but Christian is more skilled in writing and fleshing out song ideas and [Aaron] focuses more in sound design and mixing. Collectively we both do a bit of each but the typical process is Christian will flesh out an idea, and then we get together and build upon and polish the idea. We might go back and rearrange or piece the song differently until we finally reach a point we’re happy with and then finalize with last minute details and such. It’s a great process because where we both might lack in skillsets we both make up for it, while also both contributing to both sides.
How has your sound changed over the years?
Prior to meeting, we both came from the metal world and also played around a bit with house and other IDM-esque stuff while big artists/influences like Deadmau5 and Skrillex were starting to come up. When we met, we were both making chiller beats that were much more down-tempo than the stuff we do now. Over time, we gradually leaned more into making songs that were more energetic and heavy-hitting and that felt more fun to play in a live context. We’re still on the endless hunt to pinpoint our specific sound, but we love experimenting with different styles and genres just to test ourselves and see where we can push things.
Who have been some of your main influences in music production?
Throughout the years we’ve always loved Skrillex’s sound and journey, just like many other aspiring producers. Aside from him, we love stuff like Woodkid, James Blake, Falcons, GTA, Noisia, Jack White (and the White Stripes), Kanye, and a bunch of other random artists. We really are all over the place when it comes to who’s influencing us at any given time. We think it’s more fun and refreshing to just dive into a wider range of sounds and see how we can put our own spin on all of those different styles.
What was it like to work with DogBlood?
It was honestly like working with everyone else we have in the past, except with a much quicker back and forth between both parties. We worked primarily with Josh Pan communicating to Sonny and Alex directly and then coming back to us with feedback and changes. But the song came together very quickly over the span of a few days, starting with a project they had started on their end as the jump off point. It was a really cool experience being able to work with people we look up to so highly, but have it all come together over such a short period of time. It came out of nowhere, and before we knew it, we were throwing it out for everyone else to hear weeks later.
What’s your creative process like for recent tracks such as ‘4 MIND’ and ‘Like It’?
Like we mentioned before, we jumped into a project that Sonny and Alex had already started for ‘4 MIND.’ With that being said, we wanted to throw our own sauce into the mix without overshadowing the cool factor that was already there in the first place. We wanted to keep things in line with what people might come to expect from a DogBlood track, but implement our own weird stylistic twist in there to throw people off a bit and make them question what they were hearing. As for ‘Like It,‘ we just tried our hand at seeing what an X&G house track would sound like after having dived into so much half-time bass/trap stuff for a few years. It was fun to just go all out and experiment with making something more simple and driving, all while trying to maintain a bit of the sound that people have come to be familiar with in our past productions.
Is there anything else we can keep an eye out for in the future?
Tons, we’re working with a killer team now and we’re definitely planning new things everyday and trying to build the project into more of an experience for both fans and newcomers to the project alike. Super stoked to drop all of the new jams we’ve been putting together and see how people react to them.
Keep your eyes peeled for new X&G releases and catch up to date on their new music here.
Photos by Max Rykov