Kyle and Michael Trawartha, brothers who make up EDM pair Grey, went from remixing a Jack U and Justin Bieber chart-topper that caught the eye of Skrillex, to being the masterminds behind one of 2016’s biggest international hits. “Starving,” the California natives’ collaboration with Hailee Steinfeld which features Grammy Award-winning DJ Zedd has gone certified platinum, but it’s only the beginning for the talented twosome, whose stage name was inspired their very own hair colors.
CelebMix recently caught up with Michael to discuss how he and Kyle’s sibling dynamic came to life through electronic music, Grey’s breakout smash single and the duo’s biggest objective as artists securing their way into the scene.
CelebMix: When did you first develop an interest in production?
Michael Trawartha: Kyle first got into production in 2008 when he started making acoustic solo music and was producing for his band. I had always been watching from the sidelines trying to take in as much as I could from around 2010-2013 and just started doing my own thing.
CM: How long have you and Kyle been working together?
MT: I mean, technically we’ve been collaborating on music since we were really young. We were both in drumline together in high school and whenever Kyle would be working on music, I would be in the room working through it with him. The “official” collaboration that would become Grey started in 2014 though.
CM: In terms of sound, where do you seek inspiration?
MT: We actually try to stay away from listening to too much music because it makes it really hard to come up with original concepts. You are always making something that’s influenced heavily by what you have been listening to recently, even if it is subconscious. But, some artists that really inspire us are Zedd, The Japanese House, Skott, Radiohead and Phoenix.
CM: How do you generally approach remixes?
MT: With remixes, our first rule is to not use anything but the vocal from the original. We like to make a whole new song around the vocal. It really helps you take the song to a whole new universe that the listener has never even imagined before. We never use the same chords from the original, which is probably the most important part.
CM: Was there any pressure after “Starving” blew up and had a great deal of radio and chart success?
MT: There was definitely a little bit of pressure, but nothing that we can’t handle. We have something that will definitely live up to the success of “Starving” in the works. :)
CM: How did you two first become involved with Zedd? Was the chemistry instantaneous?
MT: Skrillex actually sent Zedd and his manager a remix that we did of his song “Beautiful Now.” Yeah, I mean when we first met, all he had to say was great things about us and we admire the shit out of him. So, it was pretty humbling.
CM: What is the biggest piece of advice he has given you throughout the course of your career?
MT: Probably that no one is gonna work for you as hard as you are gonna work for yourself. If you really want something done, you have to go out and do it. You can’t depend on a team to just figure everything out for you. You have to know what you want and make it happen.
CM: How was it working with Bahari on “I Miss You?”
MT: Working with the Bahari girls was so much fun. We are all super goofy and mess around a lot and they are all such sweethearts. Once we heard their first cut on the vocal for “I Miss You”, we knew they were perfect for the song. So, I think we met the next day in the studio and just vibed out and finished up the song together.
CM: What made you decide to showcase an acoustic version for your latest video?
MT: We were definitely going to have an acoustic version of the song, but we thought it would be cool to show a realistic representation of what goes on in the studio when you’re making a song. That’s why you will see scenes of me and Kyle on our laptops and maybe some goofing off and random clips of everyone just having a good time.
CM: What goals are you attempting to achieve in your creative process?
MT: We want to bridge the gap between pop music and intellectual more complex music in a way that doesn’t seem forced and almost guides people to have a better understanding of music on more than just the surface level.
CM: Who are your dream collaborations?
MT: Skott, The Japanese House and Sia.
CM: What is next for Grey?
MT: We have an EP coming out very soon!
Check out the official music video for “I Miss You” below.