Los Angeles-born and Philly-bred DJ James Fiorella (better known as Messinian though now often credited by just his last name) has had a unique career path since he joined the groundbreaking drum and bass tour known as Planet of the Drums in 2000. To become duo Rise at Night, Fiorella teamed up with Lliam Taylor, a young producer out of Chico, CA. It’s a small city north of Sacramento not necessarily known for its burgeoning EDM scene.
Taylor, who goes by the name Kezwik, is barely out of high school, but is already sharing credits with one of the biggest names in bass music. The video for “Armed & Dangerous” (seen below) is part child abduction horror movie and part street gang dance off and all parts mind-blowing, thanks to a vocal from MC Zulu. The track, a staple in Rise at Night’s live sets, is taken from the duo’s new EP, “Lady Killa”, out now through fellow bass DJ Datsik’s Firepower Records. Billboard tracked down the two producers to talk about their unlikely collaboration.
For the readers who may know you by your solo careers, but might not know Rise at Night’s work, tell us a bit about how you met and began working together.
Fiorella: We both met through the almighty power of dubstep. Lliam approached me for vocals on an EP a while back. We stayed in contact and then did some remix work together. From there we realized that we shared such a similar musical vision that it’d be a shame not to keep creating together. The project enables us to go into any style of music and put our stamp on it while staying true to our bass music roots. We always feel like we’re moving forward. We also just counted tunes today and we’ve got close to 50 songs in the works at the moment. There will be so much music coming from us soon it will be insane.
Lliam, what was is like to work with someone at the level of Fiorella? Did working in a pro studio match your expectations?
Kezwik: I definitely admit that at first working with Fio, it was a star struck experience. I was just happy throwing emails back and forth with the dude. But looking back now, he and I both agree that it very quickly turned into just two guys equally nerding out on music. Sure our backgrounds, ages, and even appearances are pretty different. But we created this group because we had something hugely important in common. We both share the same passion and motivation to be innovative and new, while also taking into consideration the fact that we need to stay on the pulse of what’s trending and on the up and up. It’s those qualities along with sprucing up our mixes with some classic and timeless elements that make me feel like Rise At Night will be around for a long time.
Your first EP is out on Firepower Records, Datsik’s label. Can you give us a bit of insight into how the release came together, including your decision to release via Firepower?
Fiorella: The EP came from hours and hours of collaborating in the studio and just getting lost in the music. We have a great time producing and coming up with new concepts and lyrics for songs that time seems to fly by. We wanted to release the first Rise At Night EP on a label that would give it a strong push and also where we felt the music was genuinely appreciated. The tracks on this EP are centered on big bass, a ton of compression, and hard vibes. With that concept in mind, Firepower was the obvious choice. Datsik, who like you said owns the label, is a great guy, and an avid supporter of our music. He even did a remix for our song “Armed & Dangerous.”
Who are your favorite artists working right now? Anyone or any trends we should watch out for?
Fiorella: Our favorite trend in electro/bass music? That’s tough. I guess the trend that makes us happiest is that so many talented artists are coming out of the woodwork lately with amazing music and genuine down to Earth personalities. Even though our scene has grown so much in the last decade, there is a great comradery amongst a lot of the artists in the scene. Behind the scenes we are keeping the energy and music genuine and from the heart — the way it should be.