Welcome to #TBT Mixtape, Billboard‘s series that showcases artists’ very own throwback-themed playlists exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. The curated set features the artists’ favorite tracks from their youth and childhood.
This week’s spin comes from Electric Youth. Four years after the release of their debut LP Innerworlds via Secretly Canadian — which peaked at No. 13 on Billboard‘s Top Dance/Electronic Albums — the Los Angeles-via-Toronto synth pop duo of multi-instrumentalist Austin Garrick and vocalist Bronwyn Griffin return fully formed on their heady sophomore LP Memory Emotion, set for release Friday via Watts Arcade Inc./Last Gang Records.
The self-produced album — preceded by early cuts like “This Life” and “ARAWA” — includes 11 total tracks described as the sonic “yang” to Innerworld’s “yin.” The set was helmed at their own home studio, anchored on the use of their Yamaha-CS80 (aka the “holy grail of synthesizers”), their Lexicon 224 (a “classic reverb unit used for Griffin’s vocals, which can be heard on everything from ethereal voices like Enya, to the atmospheric sound of the Blade Runner soundtrack”), and their self-made B48 — a “sample-based synthesizer built specifically for the new album, which houses 624 individual samples of Griffin’s voice, with each note consisting of 48 vocal layers,” explains Garrick. “It is very much externally inspired from our lives, the lives of people around us, and everything that’s going on in the world. There really is a strong link between music and memory and emotion, and Memory Emotion is what we came up with for that link.”
The shadowy pair first broke through back in 2011, when their track “A Real Hero” featured on the soundtrack to the Ryan Gosling-led film Drive, helmed by director Nicolas Winding Refn. They’ve further penetrated the film/tv space in recent years, including a sync of their song “Good Blood” on the companion soundtrack to Winding Refn’s 2016 film The Neon Demon, as well as a 2017 project Breathing: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack From A Lost Film, a collaboration with director Anthony Scott Burns, and Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, on his 2018 release Async Remodels, which also included cuts by Oneohtrix Point Never, Arca, Johann Johannsson, Yves Tumor and more. The duo also collaborated with French producer Gesaffelstein on his Columbia Records-released LP Hyperion (“Forever”), which also featured HAIM, Pharrell Williams, and The Weeknd.
On the eve of their new LP drop, Electric Youth crafted this week’s #TBT Mixtape as a window into their spacey sonic origins, featuring cuts by Yaz, Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, Justice and more. “We feel fortunate to have such a diverse musical history,” says Garrick. “This is barely scratching the surface but it’s always a trip to look back and see where we came from.”
The duo first met in sixth grade, when both were 10 years old, and have been together ever since. “We both came from vastly different families but both surrounded us with great music. When we started dating each other in 8th grade our two worlds came together and our musical tastes started to grow together,” Garrick says. “There were artists that were staples in both households then others we introduced each other too.”
Today they describe their Electric Youth project as a “vast journey through electronic music and music for film.” Their #TBT Mixtape represents their joint sonic influences — and the songs they still gravitate to today. “It’s a mix of songs our parents listened to that became favorites, some songs that were the top 40 music of the time that we loved and songs we discovered on our own, at first through movies and the heyday of watching music videos on MuchMusic — Canada’s answer to MTV — and later on through the internet and music blogs,” adds Griffin. “We’ve also included some more recent songs that are favorites, that bring musical worlds of our childhood together in a new way.”
Give the playlist a spin and also check out some throwback snaps of the pair throughout their lengthy union below. Also catch the duo at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sat. Aug. 17, tickets available here.