Posted On 06 May 2016
London producers and DJs Oliver Lee and James Carter are the talent behind breakthrough duo SNAKEHIPS, whose remixes and original productions have propelled them into the spotlight. Inspired by golden-era hip-hop and R&B with more modern production techniques, Snakehips has crafted a signature sound that is soulful and sweetly reminiscent.
Despite a shared home city, the pair met on separate business trips to Hong Kong, where they bonded over their mutual musical interests. They shared a flight to L.A., began talking music and booked a studio in which to work on a track. It went so well that within days of returning to London they nudged their laptops together and Snakehips was born.
The pair’s first release was a remix of Chicago band Wild Belle’s ‘It’s Too Late’; their next a remix of ‘Gold’ by electronic duo Bondax. Both used only the original vocal, topped the Hype Machine chart and revealed Snakehips’ love of ‘90s hip-hop, disco and vintage soul.
When Snakehips heard Banks’ song ‘Warm Water’ the guys loved it so much they contacted Banks and asked to remix it. She sent the acapella, they added funky disco music, had another blog hit on their hands and were rewarded by being asked to rework The Weeknd’s ‘Wanderlust’. After The Weeknd tweeted his praise for their version, saying it was “dope”, it received a million and a half plays in less than a month, and is currently sitting on over 7 million streams. More recently the duo have remixed Raury’s ‘Cigarette Song’ and Lion Babe’s ‘Treat Me Like Fire’ and have inevitably wracked up even more Hype Machine kudos.
The reaction to the guy’s own music, however, was in a different league. The steamy, sultry, lushly-produced “On & On“, featuring up-and-coming Australian singer George Maple, sent blogs in to a frenzy, reached the Top 10 of the iTunes electronic charts on both sides of the Atlantic and caught the attention of Radio 1’s Zane Lowe, Annie Mac, Mistajam and Monki. “On & On” is a song about heartbreak that sounded like summer, or as Ollie puts it: “It’s about a bloke George was in love with who didn’t love her back.”
In just two years Snakehips has mustered up a hefty online following with over 158,000 Soundcloud subscribers, 77,000 Facebook likes and just over 12,000 Twitter followers – and collectively their original productions have wracked up over 5 million streams. There’s certainly a lot more of exciting things in store from the London based production duo.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had a chance to catch up with SNAKEHIPS just after their much buzzed about appearances at Coachella 2016. Enjoy Nicole’s chat with Oliver and James below!
Hi Oliver + James! How did Coachella treat you? Were you able to venture out and see some of your favorite bands at the festival? Who were the highlights for you?
Yooooo Nicole! 😉 Coachella was amazing! We brought out a bunch of special guests over the two weekends and both shows were so good. We got to stick around a little bit and catch some other music, Anderson. Paak & Mr Carmack both killed it.
For those that are not as familiar with SNAKEHIPS, how did you guys get your start in music? Oliver, I understand you play a variety of instruments (keyboard, tambourine AND for mariachi bands) Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
Yeah, we both play a bunch of different instruments and have done different styles of music. We both have always been into Rnb & hip-hop music too. I think it just helps with production to have a knowledge of other stuff and to play different instruments. We started out doing a lot of sampling in our music so in that sense its cool to be into loads of jazz & soul so you know more about the records you might wanna be sampling and stuff.
Who have been your inspirations (musically, art, film etc) growing up that also inspire you today?
Both of us have musical parents that got us into a lot of the music we listened to as kids and got us playing instruments. I think those early influences can kinda define how you’ll always think about music and always be an influence.
Your latest single, “All My Friends” features vocals from American singer, Tinashe and American hip hop artist Chance The Rapper. How did that track come about and how was that experience collaborating with Tinashe + Chance?
We’re massive fans of Tinashe & Chance so it was a huge thing for us to be able to work with them. We’d made the beat and written the hook last year in London with our writing partner Cass Lowe. We had the idea of trying to get the two of them to feature on the track but we didn’t really expect it to actually happen. We reached out to them both and they both were super into the idea! It’s still pretty hard to believe it all came together.
Today everything is so instant like Spotify, Soundcloud etc. You push a button and it’s yours. What was the first album (that you can remember) that you saved up your hard earned money to purchase?
Can’t remember exactly, probably would’ve been something real embarrassing haha. I remember having this dope CD that was the Smurfs album & they sang all Smurf versions of hits.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
Loads of dope tunes came out recently. People we’re listening to lots are: Kali Uchis, Domo Genesis, Anderson .Paak, Oshi, Antwon & MXXWLL.
What’s on tap next for you guys? What are you most excited about for this year?
We’re back in London at the moment just finishing up a load of new music & are really excited to put new material out! Apart from that, we just got loads of cool shows & tours coming up that will be a lot of fun.
To stay connected to SNAKEHIPS , visit their socials below!
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Soundcloud
Bio courtesy of RCA Records