Give yourself up to Gud Vibrations: the trio talk their beginnings, songwriting, and growing global domination

Give yourself up to Gud Vibrations: the trio talk their beginnings, songwriting, and growing global domination

When it comes to collaborative projects in the EDM world, no one's quite as big as Gud Vibrations. Comprising of two separate entities NGHTMRE and SLANDER, Gud Vibrations once started out as a party series and has spread its brand all over the world with sets at various huge EDM festivals, such as Ultra and EDC. 

Bandwagon sat down with Tyler Marenyi, also known as NGHTMRE (pictured, right) as well as Derek Anderson (pictured, middle) and Scott Land (pictured, left) of SLANDER before their intense two-hour-long set at Ultra Singapore this year, which was for us one of the distinct highlights of the festival. Check out what the group had to say about their beginnings, how they work together and more in the complete interview below. 


Gud Vibrations at Ultra Singapore 2018 (photo by Eng Chin An for Bandwagon)

How did NGHTMRE and SLANDER begin collaborating?

TYLER: When I moved to L.A, I went to a music school and Derek was there, so we met at school on the first day in class. It was a pretty small school so everyone takes all the same classes together and immediately, we were drawn to each other. It was all electronic music and digital music production, but Derek and I had very specific tastes and it was very similar. No one else in the class had that type of taste so we immediately got along and became friends from that moment on.

Derek: We went on to do our own things but we eventually decided to work together as part of our separate projects, and we ended up doing a whole EP together, and now we're here. That was kind of like the jumping point for all of this.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of your music, how would you describe your sound as Gud Vibrations?

Tyler: It's a mix of melodic and heavy dance music. It's kind of a juxtaposition, like beautiful, amazing, emotional. It's something that's just super high energy and you're not going to be able to get up and jump around when you're at one of our sets.

Derek: Individually we make both super emotional stuff and super heavy music. That's what we have in common and that's why Gud Vibrations works so well, because we both have that experience in these different kinds of music. Having that contrast of having that moment when you're in the crowd with your hands up, either crying or having an emotional moment, and then thirty seconds later, you're head-banging and going mental in a mosh pit. That's what Gud Vibrations is.

Scott: I think it's just multi-genre festival music that is either really high energy in an aggressive way, or maybe in a melodic feels way, but at the end of the day, it's good vibrations either way. You can have something on either ends of the spectrum and still have a good time.

The second drop of the track 'Gud Vibrations' was changed to match the first. What led to the decision to change it and how often does this line of thinking come up?

Derek: At the time, we definitely weren't overthinking anything we were working on, we were like "we'll make a banger drop and a cool drop" and we just did it, we never put too much thought into it. I felt like most of our songs, we always try to stay away from copying and pasting the first drop and just throw it in the end, so both the drops in the song are the same. We always want to do something unexpected and I felt like that's what we did.
 
Scott: I know for that song specifically, when that song was originally released, it was released as a free EP, so all four songs were free. And then when it got picked up by a label, the label was reading comments on SoundCloud about all the different tracks, obviously doing some research before they picked up the EP, and a lot of the comments on the song 'Gud Vibrations' were like "why is the second drop different than the first drop?"
So in the case of 'Gud Vibrations' specifically, the label asked us to do the first drop twice basically. If you listen to the original drop, it's a really big switch up in terms of the energy and the emotional feel of the second drop is significantly different from the first drop so I guess in some ways, I can see why the label would want to do that, if it doesn't vibe with everyone.
 
Tyler: It's a DJ track, so if you play it all the way through, people are going to be psyched knowing that the first drop is coming again and then you just smack them in the face with this huge banger that they're not expecting. That's why we did it. If you're a DJ and you played the whole song all the way through, that would be a really cool moment that you wouldn't have to mix into another song. Labels like to do things that they know are going to work, they don't like to do things that are a risk. They like making sure things go into a more commercial area whereas the original is a DJ track.

What is the songwriting process like between the three of you?

Tyler: I feel like usually one of us has a main idea that they've already started on, something that they think is a cool melody or has cool drums or whatever. I don't think there's any specific way that we like to do things, we pretty much just sit in a room and one person sits at the computer and works for awhile, and if the rest of us like what he's come up with, we build on that.

Or two people could be working on two different things at the same time but if there's a moment where we realise we could combine the two, we do that. It's a very low pressure situation environment. We'll spend like two hours just talking to each other and just chilling and doing whatever else we want to do before we even do any work. Being creative is a very unpredictable thing so you know, sometimes you have to just do your own thing and let it come to you when it comes to you, you can't rush it.

Derek: Yeah, it's sort of like bouncing back and forth. Like Tyler would work on something for 20 to 30 minutes and then as he's working, an idea will hit me so then I jump in and then Derek has an idea off my idea and he works on that once I'm done. Those are the best kinds of collaborations, when you feed off each other's ideas and energy. That's what creates something cool.

You performed at the 20th anniversary of Ultra earlier this year with a two-hour set. What was that like?

Scott: That was really cool. It wasn't our first time playing Ultra but it was our first time playing Ultra as Gud Vibrations and usually, we like doing a longer set as Gud Vibrations because there's so much music split between NGHTMRE and SLANDER that we can't fit into an hour, and it just doesn't feel right and if that happens, we won't be able to portray the whole set the way we want to. So when we found out that we were going to play for two hours, which is pretty rare for any act on an actual big festival, we were really excited.

The set timing was awesome as well, I don't know, everything just lined up perfectly. It was really cool to be at the Worldwide Stage and have the crowd that we did. Every single drop there was a crowd reaction, you could hear it radiate off the top of the stage, it was really awesome. It was my favourite Ultra that we've played and it was a really cool experience for sure.

How does it feel to see a growing demand for your music all over the world?

Tyler: It's really cool for us because Gud Vibrations isn't necessarily us DJ-ing together, it's more of our cultural brand, where it's like tonight we're playing NGHTMRE B2B SLANDER. How the whole Gud Vibrations thing came about was we wanted to throw a party where we'd get to play but we're also using that time to support artists that we thought were dope. So we were like, what do we call this party? We felt that everything leading up to that had been nothing but good vibes so we decided to call it Gud Vibrations, that naturally led into us DJ-ing together at festivals and we're really, really thankful for that because Gud Vibrations is this brand that we want to bring all over the world.

Obviously we'd love to bring our own brands all over the world, but all of that falls into place as Gud Vibrations anyway. I think Gud Vibrations is such an easy thing for people to latch onto and just right when you say those words, you can already imagine what it's going to be like, and that's how a lot of people feel when they see us. I think with our other names, it's like you can kind of get an idea of what music we play, but nothing's as clear as Gud Vibrations. We're going to start a Gud Vibrations label in the fall [October to December] and it's our cultural platform of what we think is cool.