When it comes to origin stories, The Knocks have a good one. After meeting at The New School in New York City, Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson both found themselves in need of a place to live. The two moved in together, and quickly set about making their neighbors hate them. “Our apartment is this small, shitty Avenue C apartment with paper thin walls. We both had studio set-ups in our rooms,” explains B-Roc. “It would be loud as hell, and the neighbors hated it. They’d knock on the walls and bang on the ceiling. We would go into each other’s rooms and say ‘I just got The Knocks.’”
In the five years leading up to the release of the new Magic EP, everything has changed for The Knocks – except their address. They’ve been declared by the NME as one of the “20 hottest producers in music” and are now one of the most buzzed-about duos on the dance circuit. Described as “midway between David Guetta and Daft Punk” by The Guardian and hailed as “cred-pop’s answer to the Neptunes” by the NME, JPatt’s background in soul and funk and B-Roc’s years spent immersed in trip-hop and hip-hop beats has allowed them to quickly ascend the production ranks. The Knocks’ early success led them to a publishing deal for their original material and innovative remixing of songs for global superstars and exciting indie acts like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Ellie Goulding, Chiddy Bang, Foster The People, Passion Pit, Marina and the Diamonds and Britney Spears. While they enjoy producing and remixing for other artists, they eventually found themselves experimenting with sounds of their own.
B-Roc and JPatt didn’t think much would come of a nearly five-minute track they had been building, all tense beats and tingling synths. “It kind of started out as a joke,” says B-Roc. “But people were liking that more than the stuff we produced for other people,” says B-Roc. “It felt right.” The duo quickly discovered a newfound freedom in creating their own songs. “It's better because it's ours, and we can do whatever we want with it,” explains JPatt.
When The Knocks realized the chord they’d struck, they opened their own custom-built studio Heavy Roc Music on the Lower East Side in New York City. Over the past two years, the duo has been jet-setting around the globe for DJ gigs, sharing stages with M.I.A., Sleigh Bells, Scissor Sisters, Die Antwoord, DJ Shadow and Chromeo and releasing infectious dance-pop singles that have turned The Knocks into blog darlings. After releasing “Dancing with the DJ” in 2010 via Heavy Roc (also included on the Magic EP), the song shot to #1 on Hype Machine and hit #1 on Japan’s Electronic Songs Chart. They released their next single “Make It Better” on Neon Gold Records and were playlisted on Australia’s #1 radio station Triple J and BBC Radio One – early evidence that The Knocks’ music would resonate around the globe. They recently signed to A&M/Octone Records and Magic is their first release with the label.
B-Roc and JPatt have managed an impressive feat on Magic – they make electronic music sound organic, installing a soul amongst all the ones and zeros. The Knocks have captured all the anticipation and energy of an evening filled with possibilities. “The whole vibe of the EP is this magic hour, that feeling you get when you go out and you’re having the best night ever,” says B-Roc. Each song is a variation on this theme, nodding at some genre of music before inverting it and putting a Knocksian spin on it. The title track “Magic,” featuring British singer/producer Gary Go, sets the tone for the EP, slowly blooming into warm harmonies and anchored by steady, hand-struck drums. First single "Brightside" lit up dance floors when the band leaked the song on Soundcloud in early October, garnering an impressive 30,000 streams in just one week, and snagging the top spot on the Hype Machine Twitter Chart.
“R.O.Y.L” is a nu-disco nod with a touch of Motown vocals. “That track is all of our influences in one song,” says JPatt. "The Prize" opens on an off-kilter synth line before becoming a four-on-the-floor banger. EP closer "All We Got" featuring Kardinal Offishall, echoes with reverb-drenched vocals and an irresistible, staggering piano line.
“We want to put out good songs,” says JPatt. “Not a dance song, or a hip-hop song. A good song.” With Magic, they’ve managed an EP full of them.
The Knocks are currently in the studio completing their debut full-length album, set for release in 2013.