From Kanye To Khalid, DJDS Explain Their Path To A-List Collaborations

Joaquin Bartra
DJDS

Samo Sound Boy and Jerome LOL like to play a little game. When they finish a new song, they ask each other, “If Pharrell [Williams] were in the studio, would you press Play?” “Knowing you have to play something you did in front of a legend is a good way to get it perfect,” says Samo, one-half of the Los Angeles-based act DJDS, the dance music pair formerly known as DJ Dodger Stadium. “It’s good to know you always have to bring it to that level.”

Until 2016, the only people in DJDS’ studio were each other. Since forming in 2010, the duo has been building a catalog of frenzied, climactic techno and house music that soundtracks the after-the-afterparty scene of Los Angeles’ downtown warehouse district. In January 2016, however, Kanye West discovered DJDS’ sample-heavy 2014 debut, Friend of Mine, and cherry-picked the pair to contribute production to five songs on his 2016 album, The Life of Pablo

Suddenly, everyone wanted to book time in DJDS’ studio. The attention gave Samo and Jerome the confidence they needed to not only explore the ambitious ideas they had always harbored but also produce for artists like Khalid and Empress Of, who featured on DJDS’ skittery single “Why Don’t You Come On” in August.

“We think about music as something that feels closer to making a movie than an album,” says Samo. “So we’re writing and directing it and putting together the script and assembling the cast.”

“Now we’re making the music we always wanted to make [and] what we want to listen to,” says Jerome. “What has all of this been for if not for this?”

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 18 issue of Billboard.