The first EDMBiz conference in Las Vegas closed its second and final day with that cornerstone of every music industry confab: the artist panel.
Rebecca & Fiona were the youngest panelists onstage, in terms of age and career span. They were also the only ones wearing fake eyelashes, mini skirts and platform boots. But they didn't let the presence of icons like techno godfather Richie Hawtin or their minority status as women make them nervous. They swilled Coronas, smiled gamely and even cracked a few jokes. "We just came from hospital," Fiona deadpanned when moderator Jason Bentley commented on them finishing each other's sentences. "They separated us."
Though their videos feature underwear pillow fights and scenes of mutual bathing (in milk), Rebecca Scheja and Fiona Fitzpatrick aren't simply eye candy. For one, they already have a breakthrough debut album - "I Love You, Man" - which arrived July 10 in the United States on Ultra. Released in Sweden last year, the set's lead single, "Bullets," went triple-platinum (120,000 copies) and won the 2012 best electro/dance album Grammis Award (Sweden's Grammy), beating countrymen Avicii and Swedish House Mafia. Their tour itinerary is filled with headlining DJ gigs at major nightclubs like LIV in Miami, Pacha in New York and a residency at Marquee in Las Vegas. Then there's a collaboration with electronic dance music (EDM) favorite son Kaskade ("Turn It Down") that's notched nearly 3.5 million YouTube views.
"They're a party in a box," says Ultra Music founder/president Patrick Moxey, who hooked up with the duo last year. "Great producers, great DJs: These two women are pure talent."
With inspirations like Ace of Base, Lykke Li and Robyn, Rebecca & Fiona are from a more songwriterly school than most dance artists. Consequently, "I Love You, Man" sounds more indie than EDM, like beach-rock set to a kick drum, with fully structured four-minute songs and their gauzy voices in unison layers. It's very different from their DJ sets, which opt for firepower over nuance.
"When we're producing, we get more introverted, and we want to make something more timeless," Scheja says. "But when we DJ, it's like we want to be the hardest girls alive. So it's a combination of proving ourselves and having fun."
"In Sweden, we've managed to communicate their different skills in a way that the fans have embraced. They know what it means to go to a Rebecca & Fiona show," says the act's manager, Henrik Augustin of Mr Radar Management. "We'll [have to] start out from the beginning in the U.S., but we're confident fans will get the idea." He adds that instrument-based, traditional live shows showcasing the record could be in their future.
Rebecca & Fiona met five years ago in Sweden, and rose through the hierarchical ranks of EDM, starting, as many fetching women do, as nightclub promoters. Disappointed by the DJs they booked - "They were drunk messes and didn't feel the crowd. It was like it was only for them," Scheja says - they taught themselves how to spin, and eventually to produce.
"We tried to ask people to help us, but they would just take over," Fitzpatrick says. "A lot of people wanted us to just DJ and not produce ourselves, like, 'We'll put you on the new David Guetta track.' So it was a struggle for us to keep control, but it was important."