SIDEPIECE: Nostalgia in House Music is Exciting
DJ duo SIDEPIECE and Lee Foss played “1, 2 Step (Supersonic)” for the first time at EDC Vegas just last month. The beat starts, and Ciara’s familiar vocals echo over the speakers. After a 33-second build-up, the beat drops with “AUTOMATIC SUPERSONIC HYPNOTIC FUNKY FRESH” from Ciara and Missy Elliott’s 2004 hit “1,2 Step,” and the crowd erupts. The energy is electric, and the artists are ecstatic that this moment has come to fruition at long last.
The idea for “1, 2 Step” came about almost a year and a half ago and sat unfinished for so long that they’d lost faith in the power of the song. Ricky Mears, aka Nitti Gritti, explains that after all that time, they worried it might have lost its effect.
“Now that it’s finally coming out, and Lee added his touch, it made this whole new moment for me where I was like, ‘Whoa this is a hit.’ It actually hit me again. I forgot how much a song can really make a crowd dance.”
Dylan Ragland, who goes by Party Favor, says, “We played this song out in earlier versions, but EDC was the first time we were able to properly play the final new mastered edition. Lee was there, so it really made it special. When you have a strong vocal, like Ciara and everyone recognizes that lyric from back in the day, it felt like everything kind of came together at the right moment. I was super pumped about it. The energy was great.”
SIDEPIECE is the brainchild of DJ/producers Nitti Gritti and Party Favor- who came together to formulate a side project that would satisfy their mutual love for all genres of music. According to their bio, SIDEPIECE is “Just two below average guys who got together to make music we love, but don’t tell our significant others. Everybody needs a SIDEPIECE.” For the guys, music and each other are both their sidepieces.
The first time they met, Mears opened for Ragland in San Francisco on a Party Favor tour years before the duo would embark on their project together. But the formulation of SIDEPIECE came to be via Twitter DMs. In 2019, Nitti Gritti and Party Favor announced their collaboration - SIDEPIECE, with their debut release “Wanna See You.”
Although they claim to be below average, their recent track record has been stellar. The duo, along with Diplo, were nominated for a Grammy for their hit “On My Mind” (2019), and their recent Kiss and Tell tour completely sold out.
“The tour was incredible. Technically we started this project right before the pandemic, but there were no shows. For us to go to these big rooms and have people show up is awesome. Everyone already knew the words to our songs and we’re already planning the next round of shows,” Ragland reminisces about SIDEPIECE’s first tour.
Before getting together to form SIDEPIECE, Mears and Ragland were already cross-pollinating the many dance music genres individually. Mears is a Miami-based artist with various musical interests specializing in house, hip hop, and trap, among others. He was originally born in Pennsylvania, but Christian missionary work brought his family to Haiti for most of his childhood. Mears describes that experience as a blessing and remembers discovering hordes of music he’d never heard of through illegal music-sharing websites such as Limewire and Bearshare. This is how Mears got a taste for a wide variety of music that would later inspire his sound.
Ragland, like Mears, enjoys incorporating many different genres into his music. He can’t stand silence and has music bumping constantly. Once he became invested in house music, he realized he had more space to express himself in all his music.
“House music has an ability to go with anything.” Ragland says. The guys are both signed with Diplo’s label Mad Decent and have each worked with the likes of Pitbull, Bad Bunny, Enrique Iglesias, Dillon Francis, DJ Snake, Gucci Mane, and many more.
“1, 2 Step (Supersonic)” comes when tech-house is seeing a resurgence in songs from the ’90s and ’00s. Ragland attributes that to a cultural shift re-popularizing ’90s trends. Mears explains how music goes through cycles, “You see trends like these in other styles too. Pop punk is massive in rap right now. People love nostalgia.” It’s fun for the artists to help people experience music they love in a new and fun way.
Mears’ advice for anyone who wants to begin making music is to keep at it. The more time you spend working on your craft, the better you will become. He believes dedication is the way to grow your skills and get to where you want to be.
“[It was] the amount of time I spent actually focused and committed that made the biggest difference. Second, is building a good team. But if you can say I spent one to two years producing music, you will get good. If you sit there, give your life and try to do something, you’ll get results. It’s the commitment to want to do something.”
If you missed the Kiss and Tell tour, fear not. SIDEPIECE has lots in store. They can’t say who, but a special guest will join SIDEPIECE at Lollapalooza.
Ragland and Mears are excited about the music they’re planning to release soon. Tons of big collabs, lots of big releases, Europe this summer, and Australia in the fall. Ragland says they’re working on spreading the SIDEPIECE sound worldwide, and they’re hoping an album is coming very soon. They’re ready.
Ragland says that for SIDEPIECE, “The future is bright.”