Interview | Battle Tapes

From League of Legends to Teen Wolf, Battle Tapes has been the soundtrack to many entertainment properties. With equal parts guitar and synth, the Los Angeles based electronic rock band is as danceable as it is hard hitting. We swapped emails and talked about their music in media, video games and connecting with fans.

Battle Tapes has a really unique sound. Where did it begin and how did it evolve into what it is today?

To be honest, I’m not really sure. When we started Battle Tapes, tech was reaching a point were you could have as many tracks and plug-ins as you could want for the most part. So for us the idea was setting limits. Only allowing our self to use a small selection or synths and effects. I think a side effect of that has been that it quickly helps you carve out and define your “sound”.  We also tend to steer away from what ever is popular to help set us apart from our peers. Since then, before starting a new LP/EP, we try to establish a loose set of rules or sounds to work from. Enough to strike a balance between keeping on a path, while still giving our self room to explore options we might not have considered from the outset .

What’s your writing process like? How has it grown since your earlier releases?

We kind of write and explore in our own little bubbles and once we have something we are feeling strong about we show the other. A lot of the time one of us will have a full 3-4 minutes of music but a little 8 bar section will catch the others attention and we end up focusing of that and discarding the rest. Some of our best songs have been born from that process. 

The band’s music has been heavily featured in various video games and promotional materials. I can’t go a month without saying “Awesome. Battle Tapes at it again.” How does it feel to have your music be associated with so many pieces of art? What’s a show/movie/game guys would want to do an original score/soundtrack for?

It’s really amazing and, to be honest, it never gets [old]. Every time we get a request to use our music it’s exciting and humbling that someone wants to use your work to enhance and be apart of their work and artistic gesture. As far as what we’d like to score? That’s a tough one. I think something that is just a good cultural and artistic fit. That being said, there are some games coming out next year that I’d love to be a part of. I’ll let you guess at what those are. :) 

Your fans have great access to the band via social media. Full disclosure, I am a part of the Battle Tapes discord. It’s awesome how interactive you are to your listeners. Who came up with the idea to start using Discord? Do you think services like it are the next wave in terms of how artists connect with their fans?

Really? Dude why haven’t you said “hello” yet???  We are always looking for ways to connect with our fans out side of the normal social media channels. One day, one of our fans (S/O to @Mamdouh_irl) reached out to us on Twitter with the idea. It took all of two seconds to see the potential to connect with fans in a genuine way. I hope we start seeing more and more ways to connect like this. I think discord works for us just because of the large gamer, sci-fi, tech-minded contingent of our fan base that discord already attracts. 

On your Discord, you have a channel dedicated to Cyberpunk, and the Battle Tapes Twitter account follows several employees from CD Projekt Red, the studio behind Cyberpunk 2077. Can we anticipate a song on the soundtrack? What’s another game you guys are hyped about?

I’ve always been a fan of the cyberpunk genre. My dad got me in to William Gibson when I was a kid, and I just ran with it hard from there. I really enjoy (and sometimes dread) when we see things that were written about 30, 40 years ago showing up in our present reality. I like to use the CP channel on our discord to post articles that call attention to that in addition to the other stuff posted there.

As far as being on the CP2077 soundtrack, I don’t know, we haven’t heard anything, outside of people talking about it on twitter. I’d obviously love to be a part of that project, but as a fan of CD Projekt Red and the cyberpunk genre as a whole, I just want the game to be the best it can be and to be the vision they have for it. Other games we are hyped for are The Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding. 2020 is going to be a great year for games. 

What are some synths you guys are most excited about right now? What were the synths that you used on your previous material?

I got my hands on Black Corporations Deckard’s Dream recently. It’s a reimagining of the Yamaha CS-80 and it’s amazing. I’m really tempted to risk it all for that one. We mostly stick to classics like the MS-20, Juno, Mini Moog, M1, etc. And we are LOVING the modern takes on those classics. Adding modern accoutrements and the like to the classics is a godsend when time is a factor. But we do dip our toes in to the modern waters from time to time with Omnisphere and Serum. We tried to stay away but those are both pretty undeniable. 

Riley, what was it like working with Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino, on Awaken, My Love? How did that relationship come about? Has he heard the Battle Tapes remix of “Sweatpants”? Congrats on the Grammy win!

Thanks so much!  

Working with Donald has been an incredible experience . I’ve learned a lot from working with him and creating Awaken, My Love was definitely one of most challenging experiences of my career. I had a blast making it though and I made a lot of friends along the way. 

I first got involved with Donald through a friend who was unable to continue  the “Because the Internet” sessions himself due to a scheduling conflict. So I first met Donald working on the latter half of that album. 

After BTI came out, Donald would call me to come record at his home studio where we recorded most of the Kauai EP. This is also when I asked him if I could do a “Sweatpants” remix. You better believe he’s heard it, and yes, he’s a fan.

Are there more remixes in the pipeline? Who is an artist you would want to do a remix for?

Nothing at the moment, we are trying to focus on finishing our next record. That being said, I think we could put things on pause for, say, Soulwax, Oliver, Depeche Mode or Kim Petras. 

Your latest single “Weight of the World” came out earlier this year. It is quite a tune. Any plans for a full length LP? What’s the future looking like for Battle Tapes?

Why thank you! Yup, working on what could be a full LP. No real release window in mind but soon-ish?

Any parting words?

Tell the people in your life that you love how much you love them, compliment them and praise the things you love about them while they are here with you. Those words do no good once we are gone.