The Aussie reality TV stars turn their sights on America with new single “Hello.”
It’s late January on a sunny but brisk Los Angeles morning, and the Stafford Brothers’ rented house in the Studio City hills is bustling. The guys are playing hosts to the large crew that’s shooting the video for their first U.S. single “Hello,” including featured artists Lil Wayne and Christina Milian.
In addition to the cameras, lighting equipment, and catering trucks, there are assorted young people dressed like partiers and skateboarders, practicing runs on the ramp that’s been installed next to the pool. There’s a man in a kangaroo suit and an actual kangaroo wearing a leather-studded bra. Despite having just arrived back in L.A. after an overnight flight from Sydney, Australian DJ brothers Matt and Chris Stafford are chipper exceedingly hospitable to the entire crew, even as a growing crowd of extras and groupies besieges their home.
In one room their manager Nima Nasseri is getting a quick, last-minute haircut. Another bedroom has been set aside and prepared as a hair and makeup station for Milian, who is arriving shortly. Wayne isn’t expected until later that evening, and nobody is too concerned that his call time keeps changing. In fact, despite being a film set, there is a definite party-like atmosphere going. That’s hardly an accident.
“Let’s get a silly house and go a bit large for six months,” Matt Stafford tells Billboard of their first ideas for moving to L.A. “If it doesn’t work out, we’ll go home, but we’ll have had a good time. Nearly a year on and we’re still in the same house and we got Lil Wayne and Christina coming over.”
In the meantime, that house has been a home to the Staffords and a rotating cast of EDM characters, including Chicago DJ outfit Krewella (their manager Jake, a friend of Nima’s, is a more permanent resident), fellow Aussie Tommy Trash, as well as Alex James, Whitney Phillips, and Harry Sommerdahl of writing and production team The City, who wrote “Hello.”
But how does an unheard of DJ invade the U.S. and instantly create a party-hub/dance music epicenter with such nonchalance?
In Australia, the Stafford Brothers are household names, thanks in part to a reality television show about their lives as DJs. Between the TV show, the party antics, and their good looks it would be easy to dismiss them as just a pair of pretty faces, but their musical roots and house credibility are not to be taken lightly. Now they’re leaving Aussie TV behind and turning their attention towards a career in America, kicking it off with “Hello.”
Born and raised in New Zealand, Matt and Chris Stafford grew up in a musical family. “My dad plays guitar and is actually making ukuleles at the moment,” says Matt of his musical provenance. “I also play guitar, Chris plays piano.”
“Come to a Stafford Christmas, everyone’s got instruments out,” adds Chris. “Tambourine Trish is my mom.”
The family moved to Australia when the boys were 17 and 15 years old and had started DJ-ing by the time they graduated high school. But it wasn’t until they won a trip to Ibiza in 2001 that their musical momentum took off.
“We went to Ibiza and we were blown away,” says Matt, citing DJ/producer Roger Sanchez’s “Another Chance” as an influential track. “We were buying vinyl and playing really hard stuff and we just changed to the house side. Chris had been producing for a while at that point, so we just shifted to that style.”
The contest that brought them to the Balearic Islands and Roger Sanchez, also brought them to Australian television for the first time. The premise of the reality TV contest show, as Matt explains, was “two guys, two girls to be taken to Ibiza as Australia’s biggest party animals. You had to send in a video. So we sent in one together and we won.”