Cash Cash: Working Overtime
Back in 2008, you may not have known about Cash Cash unless you were a frequent Hot Topic shopper or avid attendee of the annual Vans Warped Tour. The band-turned-DJ-trio—currently consisting of brothers Jean Paul and Alexander Makhlouf and Samuel Frisch—began its music career as an alternative-pop/electronic group, but soon realized that producing was its true niche.
The last few years saw the New Jersey-based trio break into the world of EDM with the release of its remix of Krewella’s hit “Alive,” as well as its own single “Take Me Home” (featuring Bebe Rexha) that premiered on Nicky Romero’s Protocol Radio.
As “Take Me Home” (from the “Overtime” EP) began to crash the pop charts, DJ Times connected with Jean Paul Makhlouf while he and the group prepared to kick off its three-month “Overtime Tour.”
DJ Times: Your EP, “Overtime,” is a lot different from the music you’ve released in the past. What inspired you to make this change?
Makhlouf: It was kind of just like going back to the drawing board and seeing where we shined and where we were weak. We’re stronger producers than we were a band/electronic group. We slowly evolved by remixing for other artists and that would raise the bar for our own production. We always leaned towards electronic; back in 2008, we were like a Cobra Starship kind of group. We were very heavy with synths and keyboards. Even back then, we would produce, record mix and master in our own home studio, so it was really easy for us to learn the tricks of tweaking different knobs and stuff like that.
DJ Times: Did the recent boom of EDM in the mainstream music world influence you at all?
Makhlouf: For us, I think it was kind of just the way the times were going, not the actual music industry. We came out of a place where we had gotten dropped from our record label and were wondering what to do. I was like, “I think we’ve taken it as far as we can go with being an electronic group and we should just be producers behind the scenes. We can do a lot of collaborations and just do fun stuff,” and all of the sudden here we are.
DJ Times: Do you think we’re going to see a lot more artists and bands converting to electronic dance music in the future?
Makhlouf: Maybe, I think it’s tough because it’s not really something you can just go into without the experience of DJing and producing. For us, we were producing music from the beginning so the transition was really easy. I definitely see different people trying to get into it.
DJ Times: What’s your onstage set up like now?
Makhlouf: It depends on where we’re playing. With a late-night set, we can’t really bring things like our sampler or a computer. A lot of times we’ll set up a tracked interface and we’ll trigger vocals or one-shots and that will go into the mixer where one of the guys can filter or beat master it. If we don’t have room for that, we’ll just do CDJs.
DJ Times: So, why progressive house?
Makhlouf: We’ve always liked house music, but we definitely change it up a lot. We’re always trying different instruments, sounds, and tempos because we get sick of staying at one tempo for too long.
DJ Times: Did the transition affect how you worked in the studio? Did you ditch the live instruments?
Makhlouf: We try to incorporate instruments as much as we can just because it brings a sense and feel to the music that you can’t necessarily always get with a computer. We use a lot of piano and guitar.
DJ Times: So what do you use to produce now?
Makhlouf: We record, produce, mix, and master all of our music on Cubase.
DJ Times: What roles to each of you take in production?
Makhlouf: We all know how to produce and record because we came from that producing world. Alex is more keyboard-oriented, so his brain is thinking more in chords and music theory, while I’m going by the emotion that I’m feeling in it. Sam is kind of in the middle. It’s a good dynamic between the three of us.